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May 2017 Archives

Double Amputee Settles with Guardrail Company

Guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries Inc. settled a product liability case over its allegedly defective guardrails, the day before trial was set to begin in the suit brought by a North Carolina man who lost both his legs in a highway accident.

Three Houston-Area School Bus Accidents Reported This Week

Earlier this week, three separate accidents involving Houston-area school buses were reported. The first accident occurred on Monday when an Alvin ISD school bus rear-ended a vehicle stopped at a red light at the intersection of State Highway 6 and County Road 99 in Brazoria County, resulting in two fatalities. No students were on board the bus at the time of the accident. The second accident occurred on Tuesday on Highway 288 at Southmore near the Medical Center. Two vehicles reportedly ran into the back of a Houston ISD school bus, causing the bus to leave the roadway. The school bus driver suffered was transported to the hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery. Houston ISD confirmed that there were no students on the bus at the time of the accident. The third accident involving a Crosby ISD school bus occurred on Wednesday. According to Crosby ISD officials, 15 students were on the bus at the time of the accident, but no injuries were reported.

Alaska Oil Company Fined with Largest Jones Act Penalty in History of the Act

In 2011, Furie Operating Alaska, an Alaskan oil and gas company, transported the Spartan 151 jack-up drill rig from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska using a foreign-flagged vessel. The company agreed to pay a record $10,000,000 fine for failing to get pre-approval from the U.S. government to use a foreign-flagged vessel for the transport.

Exploding E-Cigarettes

While electronic cigarettes are considered a healthy alternative for smokers, there are rising concerns that these devices may be dangerous. Electronic cigarettes, more commonly referred to as e-cigs, have continued to grow in popularity since entering the U.S. market in 2007. A major cause of the health concerns presented by e-cigarettes may not be what one would expect, however.

Vehicle Crash with MTA Bus leaves Seventeen Injured in Baltimore

A collision between a privately-owned vehicle and a Maryland Transmit Administration (MTA) bus sent 17 people to the hospital on the afternoon of May 20, 2017. According to MTA officials, the accident occurred at 3:54 p.m. at the intersection of St. Paul Street and East North Avenue in central Baltimore.

91-Year-Old Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver

Erlene Gomez, 91, died Thursday night after being struck by a hit-and-run driver at Heights Boulevard and 15th Street in the Heights in Houston. According to KHOU News, Gomez was struck from behind by a white Toyota SUV while walking down 15th Street after getting off a bus. According to a witness, the driver left the scene slowly, and police believe the driver lives in the neighborhood.

Nursing Home Resident Sues Facility Over Inappropriate Video

Mary McCaughan, 83-years-old, has filed suit in Travis County alleging negligence by Regency HIS of Windsor Duval, LLC and Regency Integrated Health Services, LLC. The suit details that Carlos Alberto Santa Cruz, a certified nurse aide at Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Services of Duval, posted videos that show someone smearing feces on her body and face. The lawsuit claims Santa Cruz allegedly photographed Ms. McCaughan's naked body and posted a video on Snapchat showing someone smearing feces on her. According to her son, Ms. McCaughan has advanced Alzheimer's disease and has great difficulty with talking, moving, and cognition.

Placing Side Guard Rails on 18-Wheelers Will Help Reduce the Number of Highway Fatalities

In 2015, 301 passenger vehicle occupants were killed when colliding with the side of an 18-wheeler's trailer. This has led to the call for side guard rails, which are aimed at preventing deaths caused by side-impact collisions with trailers.

Police Investigating Possible Use of Alcohol in Deadly Crash

A deadly motor vehicle collision occurred in the early morning hours of Monday, and police are investigating to determine if alcohol was involved.

13 Dead in Head-On Crash with Church Bus

A bus carrying fourteen people returning from a church choir retreat was involved in a deadly head-on collision with a 2007 Dodge truck in South Texas last month. The crash killed 13 people after the truck unexpectedly veered into their lane of traffic. Witnesses to the crash confirmed the driver of the truck was texting and on medication at the time of the crash.

Hoverboards Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) officials confirmed a charging LayZ Board Hoverboard ignited and killed two young girls during the Pennsylvania house fire in March of 2016. More than 3,000 LayZ Boards have been imported from Shenzhen, China to the United States according to the CPSC.

Family of Boy Who Died at Waterpark to Receive $20 Million in Settlement

On August 7, 2016, Caleb Schwab visited the Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas with his three brothers and parents. Unfortunately, due to a horrific incident on the Verrückt-deemed the world's tallest waterslide-Caleb never returned home.

Another Pedestrian Struck and Killed by Bus in Downtown Houston As Pedestrian Fatality Rates Continue to Rise

On Tuesday afternoon, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a bus in downtown Houston. According to investigators, the pedestrian was walking near St. Joseph Medical Center when she was struck by a First Class Tours bus. The woman, whose name has not been released by investigators, died at the scene. Investigators have not determined if the woman was in the crosswalk or if the light was green at the time. This incident is the second incident this year in which a pedestrian was struck and killed by a bus in downtown Houston. In January, a pedestrian was crossing the street when he was struck and killed by a METRO bus in downtown Houston. Unfortunately, the number of pedestrian fatalities in Houston has steadily increased every year since at least 2013.

In Landmark Decision, Supreme Court of Washington Holds that Jones Act Seamen Can Recover Punitive Damages for Vessel Unseaworthiness

On March 9, 2017, the Supreme Court of Washington held that a Jones Act seaman could recover punitive damages in an unseaworthiness claim. At least within the state of Washington, this ruling clarified previous confusion regarding applicability of common law damages for unseaworthiness claims. The case involved a plaintiff who lost two of his fingers while moving fish below deck. A hatch with a broken handle could not be closed in time and severed the plaintiff's fingers. The plaintiff alleged that the vessel operators knew about the broken handle but failed to repair it.

Family Obtains $33.8M Settlement in Medical Malpractice Suit

In December 2013, Marla Dixon delivered her son, Earl, Jr., at North Shore Medical Center in Miami. At delivery, the baby was blue and his limbs were limp. The medical team revived him, but Earl, Jr. was left with a permanent, severe brain injury due to a lack of oxygen. Ms. Dixon and Earl Jr.'s father, Earl Reese-Thornton, Sr., filed suit.

Texans Ranked Top 20 for Most Distracted Drivers in U.S.

In the United States, distracted driving has become a pressing issue. A recent study conducted by Zendrive collected data from 3.1 million drivers in the U.S., on trips covering 5.6 billion miles between December 2016 and February 2017, and found drivers spend an average of 3.5 minutes using their phones.

National Efforts to Prevent Deaths and Injuries of Roadway Workers Increased

As the infrastructure of our highways age, the need for construction and rebuilding of roads exposed to open traffic rises. In order to prevent delays during peak travel times, more roadwork is now being scheduled for nighttime. Additionally, urban areas are seeing an influx of newcomers, adding to traffic congestion. The exposure to increased oncoming traffic as well as decreased visibility for drivers at night heightens the risk of death and injury that roadside workers face.

Family Awarded $42M for Doctor's Negligence During Child-Birth

A Pennsylvania federal judge recently ruled that the federal government pay $41.6 million to a couple after determining that a doctor at a federally funded health clinic negligently used forceps to deliver the couple's baby, causing permanent brain damage. The judge held that the doctor's premature and multiple uses of forceps in attempting to deliver the baby caused the newborn permanent physical and intellectual disabilities.

Recent Study Shows Houston Traffic Accident Rates are Increasing

It's no secret that Houston roads can be hazardous. Making matters worse is the fact that Houston roads are becoming more congested as the population swells. With this increasing congestion comes an increase in crash rates. A recent report from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) examined data regarding traffic crashes in the region over a five year period.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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