September 2017 Archives

Deadly Oil Rig Accident

One worker is dead and another lost a limb after an accident occurred on an oil rig near McCook, Texas. The injured worker remains in critical condition. The drilling site was on Moorefield Road, south of FM 490 near McCook. The incident occurred on September 25, 2017.

Arkema Plant Suffers Multiple Explosions During Flood

Hurricane Harvey has caused catastrophic damage in Houston. An Arkema chemical plant located in Crosby, Texas, just 25 miles outside of downtown Houston, flooded as a result of the heavy rains in August.. On August 31, 2017, the first of two explosions occurred at the plant after floodwaters from the hurricane disabled power and backup generators, cutting off the refrigeration needed to keep the toxic chemicals stable.

Hit-and-Run Drivers Kill One Motorcyclist and Injure Another

Two motorcyclists were victimized in two separate hit-and-run crashes Sunday. One victim was killed, and the other, a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, was injured. These are just the latest in a disturbing trend of hit-and-run collisions in Houston.

Dodge Trucks Recalled for Fire Hazard

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it is recalling 494,000 medium and heavy-duty Ram trucks as a result of a water pump concern that could cause a fire. This recall affects 2013-2017 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups and 3500, 4500, and 5500 chassis cabs.

Insurance Premiums Expected to Go up After Hurricane Harvey and Irma

The hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida are already estimated at billions of dollars. Thousands of small businesses, even those with insurance coverage, face a long process of claims and rebuilding that could take years. Insurance companies are set to pay out large claims, however many experts say that this is an opportunity for insurance companies to raise premiums.

Hurricane Harvey Lawsuits

Less than a month after Houston took a devastating hit from Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents are bringing to light yet another major problem. Thousands of businesses and houses were intentionally flooded, due to a decision made by government officials to release an unprecedented amount of water into the Buffalo Bayou. On the early morning of August 28, 2017, the controlled release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs flooded about 4,000 homes in the surrounding areas, sadly forcing thousands of families to evacuate their homes.

Man Commits Suicide After Taking Antidepressant

Stewart Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, committed suicide by throwing himself in front of an oncoming train. He had started paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil, five days before his death. His wife, Wendy Dolin, sued the original manufacturer of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, claiming the company failed to sufficiently warn of the risks associated with the drug.

Nursing Home Negligence in Wake of Storm

Amidst the disaster and destruction brought about by Hurricane Irma, Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, lost power leaving more than 150 of its residents without air conditioning. Eight of the Center's residents died from respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues, with some patients feeling temperatures up to 106 degrees after the air conditioning system failed during the Hurricane.

Fire at Chemical Plant

Another chemical plant posed a risk in southeast Texas. As reported by news sources, components of the Enterprise Products plant on FM 1942 in Mont Belvieu in Chambers County caught on fire Friday night. The fire was finally contained at about 8:00 p.m., according to an announcement by a local sheriff. The plant was initially closed off, and later both the location was confirmed and the nature of the blaze: a petrochemical fire. The flames were observed shortly after 7:00 p.m. from another plant some six or seven miles away. There has been no official statement of the cause of the fire, though a company executive confirmed that it came from an over-pressurized well. Fortunately, no injuries have yet been reported, though a prior pipeline explosion in 2011 at the company was fatal.

Volkswagen Engineer Fined and Imprisoned

James Robert Liang a 63-year-old German engineer, who played a significant role in the Volkswagen's diesel emission scandal, attempted a cover up, according U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox. During sentencing in Detroit the judge stated "The conspiracy perpetrated a massive...stunning fraud on the American consumer that attacked and destroyed the very foundation of our economic system."

South Carolina Couple Suing Amazon for Selling Faulty Solar Eclipse Glasses

A seriously injured South Carolina couple is suing Amazon under negligence, negligent misrepresentation, negligent failure to warn, the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment, seeking monetary relief of more than $75,000. Amazon sold "Eclipse Glasses" to the public so that they may view the total solar eclipse that occurred last August. According to the lawsuit, the couple alleges that the eclipse glasses were extremely defective and dangerous, and that their use resulted in vision damage and other physical injuries.

Baylor University Reaches Confidential Settlement in Title IX Sexual Assault Case

Last week, Baylor University and an alleged victim of a gang rape by then-Baylor University football players announced that they had reached a confidential settlement in a Title IX lawsuit the woman filed in January. The victim, referred to in court documents as Elizabeth Doe, alleged that she was raped by Baylor football players Tre'Von Armstead and Myke Chatman in April 2013 after an off-campus party. Both men are currently awaiting trial on criminal charges arising from the incident. Elizabeth Doe's lawsuit is the fourth Title IX lawsuit Baylor has resolved related to its sexual assault scandal. In July, Baylor announced that it had reached a settlement with another former student who alleged that she was assaulted in 2015. Baylor has also reached settlements with at least three other alleged victims of sexual assault who did not file lawsuits. Each of the pending lawsuits includes claims that the school's discriminatory policies and inadequate response to allegations of sexual assault created a heightened risk that students would be sexually assaulted.

Settlement Reached in Pressure Cooker Explosion Lawsuit

Tristar Products Inc. and plaintiffs Ninfa and Jose Vasquez have reached a settlement in a products liability lawsuit filed in Brownsville, Texas. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs were severely burned after a pressure cooker purchased from Tristar exploded on August 2, 2014. The plaintiffs allege they were using the pressure cooker for the first time to prepare pinto beans for a family dinner-following all instructions provided with the device-when the device suddenly exploded without warning. The explosion allegedly occurred after the device had been unplugged for two hours. Mrs. Vasquez was allegedly severely burned by the scalding hot contents and steam. The plaintiffs allege that Tristar failed to use reasonable care in designing and manufacturing the device and failed to adequately warn consumers of the device's dangers, among other allegations.

Accident Involving Truck Carrying Harvey Relief Supplies Results in Two Deaths

On August 30, 2017, a tragic accident occurred involving an 18-wheeler and a small car and resulted in the death of two people. The crash took place around 6:30 p.m. on the southbound lanes of I-45, just south of Malloy Bridge Road, near the town of Wilmer on the Dallas-Ellis County line. The 18-wheeler was carrying a large amount of relief supplies to Houston to help those affected by the devastation caused by hurricane Harvey. According to the Sheriff's deputies, the small car was heading north on I-45 when it crossed the median and ran into the 18-wheeler. After ramming into the 18-wheeler, the small car was stuck under the truck and busted into flames.

Texas Ranked 5th Most Dangerous State for Workplace Accidents

After a search of 19,937 reports comprised of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) injury reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics job fatalities statistics, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data reports, the website Zippia was able to determine what the most dangerous states to work in are, along with the most dangerous industry in each state. Unlike previous research which primarily depended on Social Security Disability claims and days on leave (treatment varies depending on the state), Zippia's emphasis on the OSHA data in particular is significant as in 2015, OSHA required employers to report ALL work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, etc., whereas before, OSHA only required fatalities and hospitalizations to be reported if the injuries being reported involved three or more people. Sadly, Zippia's findings did not place Texas in a favorable light.

Woman Hit by Support Vehicle in Coeur D'Alene's Ironman Race

An event support vehicle struck 52-year-old Crystal O'Connor in Idaho's Coeur D'Alene Ironman race on August 28, 2017. O'Connor was participating in the 112-mile bike portion of the race on Highway 95, near Putnam Road, Kootenai County, when she was hit by the vehicle and seriously injured. Authorities reported that due to her injuries, she had to be transported by Life Flight to Kootenai Health hospital. The authorities indicated that O'Connor, who was initially listed in critical condition, is currently in 'fair condition.'

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Addicks and Barker Reservoir Release Post Hurricane Harvey

A group of flooded-out Harris County homeowners and businesses sued the federal government on Tuesday, accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of knowingly condemning their properties by releasing water from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs after Hurricane Harvey.

Alleged Cancer Misdiagnosis Leads to Lawsuit

Wendy Ann Noon Berner has sued The University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Meenakshi Singh, and Dr. Timothy Schmitt for alleged cancer misdiagnosis. Dr. Singh is the former chair of the hospital's pathology department and Dr. Schmitt is a surgeon who was involved in her treatment.

Charges Filed in Hit and Run Fatality

A Houston man was killed last Monday in a hit-and-run collision. The man was 57-years-old. He was struck by a white Nissan shortly after 4:00 p.m. near the median of the 2300 block of Wayside. He was hit so hard that his body was thrown onto another vehicle that was stopped for a traffic light. After the incident, the Nissan fled the scene.

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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