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October 2017 Archives

State Fair Ride Malfunction Leaves Teenager Injured

The State Fair of Texas is investigating one of its rides after a woman, Dixie Dodd, reported a maintenance malfunction which left her 14-year-old son seriously injured. Dodd filed an incident report with the Dallas police, claiming that something went wrong, causing the safety bar on fair ride named "The Storm" to fly up, breaking her son's front teeth in half.

NTSB: Pilot in Deadly Balloon Crash Unfit to Fly

In July 2016, Texas saw the deadliest hot air balloon crash in American history when Alfred "Skip" Nichols piloted his balloon into power lines near Lockhart, killing himself and 15 passengers. It has now been revealed in an October 17 meeting of the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington that Nichols was impaired by Valium, opioids, and other medication, and had psychological conditions that affected his decision-making. As quoted by the Associated Press, NTSB medical officer Dr. Nicholas Webster reported that there was enough Benadryl in Nichols' system to have "the impairing effect of a blood-alcohol level" of a drunk driver.

Two Recent Crashes Blamed on Driving While Intoxicated

Law enforcement authorities suspect that driving while intoxicated caused two recent crashes, one of which was fatal.

More Fatal Train Collisions in Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety has confirmed a fatal car accident involving a train in Iowa Park, Texas. The collision occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Friday, October 13, 2017. The collision occurred near the intersection of West Smith Avenue and Johnson Road. The railroad track crosses Johnson Road approximately 25 yards before the intersection with West Smith Avenue. There are retractable railroad gates near the tracks, but it is unknown at this point whether they were activated as the train approached. There is a residential property located near where the collision occurred, but there is no report yet that there were any witnesses. Iowa Park Police and Fire, Wichita County Sheriff's Deputies, Department of Public Safety Troopers, and railroad officials were all called to the scene to investigate. The driver was reportedly operating a Dodge SUV. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle has perished.

Texas A&M Construction Worker Seeking $10 Million After Being Run Over by 9000 Pound Truck

Firm partner Benny Agosto, Jr. files suit on behalf of Benjamin Portillo, a critically injured construction worker for negligence, gross negligence, negligent entrustment, imputed liability, and premises liability, seeking monetary relief of more than $10 million from Gilbane Building Company, Sunstate Equipment Co., LLC, and Derik Matejka, II. According to the lawsuit, the construction worker was run over by a 9000-pound truck at the Cain Garage construction site located at Texas A&M University's campus.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Releases 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released fatal traffic crash data collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia for calendar year 2016. According to NHTSA, there were 37,461 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, an increase from 35,485 in 2015. The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, resulting in a 2.6 percent increase in fatalities from 2015. NHTSA found that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while fatalities related to other reckless behaviors such as speeding, alcohol impairment, and failure to wear a seatbelt increased from the previous year. Fatal traffic crashes increased from 2015 to 2016 in almost all segments of the population including passenger vehicle occupants, occupants of large trucks, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, alcohol-impaired driving, and time of day (daytime/nighttime).

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Legislation on Self-Driving Cars

On September 6, 2017 the House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act, a bill with bipartisan support. The SELF DRIVE Act, lays out a basic federal framework for autonomous vehicle regulation, signaling that federal lawmakers are finally ready to think seriously about self-driving cars and what they mean for the future of the country.

Oil Tank Explosion Injures Two Workers in Texas

On October 17, 2017, two oilfield workers were injured at an oilfield near Dilley, Texas. La Salle County Sheriff's Office reported that the oilfield workers were injured after an oil storage exploded at the site, which is operated by Carrizo Oil and Gas.

Oil Rig Explosion on Lake Pontchartrain

At least seven people were injured when a large explosion on an oil rig operating on Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain ignited a fire Sunday evening, authorities said. Smoke and fire were visible from the shore. According to The (New Orleans) Advocate, citing Jefferson Parish officials, there were seven people aboard the platform. The injured were taken to New Orleans, with five people taken to the University Medical Center and two others taken to East Jefferson General Hospital. EMS officials said the five taken to the University Medical Center were being treated for blast-type injuries and burns and were in critical condition. The U.S. Coast Guard told the Advocate one man on the rig was not able to make it to shore after the explosion, and rescuers were searching for him. The worker has not been found. Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor said Sunday. There were "a lot of injuries," many of them serious, with at least seven confirmed and more expected, McGregor said. Authorities on the scene reported that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform.

Senate Considering Repeal of CFPB Arbitration Rule

In the fine print of credit card agreements and bank deposit agreements, banks and credit card companies frequently require consumers to agree to give up their right to sue the bank in court-even for serious violations of consumer rights-and submit any claims to arbitration. In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adopted a rule placing a rather mild restriction on such agreements-they could not prevent consumers from filing or joining class action lawsuits. However, a joint resolution has been proposed in Congress to block the rule under the Congressional Review Act, a law that provides an expedited process for Congress to overrule regulations issued by agencies of the executive branch. The resolution has already passed in the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.

Newborn Smothered in Hospital Bed

Monica Thompson has filed suit and alleged that a nurse brought her son Jacob to her hospital bed at Portland Adventist Medical Center to breastfeed in the early hours of August 6, 2012. The nurse placed Jacob next to Ms. Thompson in the bed and left. Approximately three hours earlier, Ms. Thompson, who had a Caesarean section, had been given narcotic painkillers and sleep aids.

Las Vegas Mass Shooting Victim Sues Hotel, Festival Organizer, Bump Stock Manufacturers, and Shooter's Estate

On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire from a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel onto the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The shooting killed 58 people and injured hundreds more and is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The Arkema Plant Explosion

Harris County has filed a lawsuit against Arkema Inc. regarding the events that unfolded on their property during Hurricane Harvey. On Thursday August 31, 2017, explosions were reported at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas. The major flooding from Hurricane Harvey resulted in Arkema's power and redundant power systems failing. This led to some of the chemicals on-site to begin to heat up and ultimately explode. This caused plumes of thick, black smoke to be released into the air. Harris County is attempting to recuperate the expenses that were incurred by having their personnel respond to the scene. Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman stated, "We've shown if you're a bad actor, we'll hold you accountable." The county seems to be attempting to set a precedent that if you do not properly prepare for an emergency like this, you will have to pay.

Fiat Chrysler Recalling 50,000 Chrysler Pacifica Vans Due to Faulty Seat Belts

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 50,000 Chrysler Pacifica eight-passenger minivans from the United States and Canada for malfunctioning seatbelts. During driving, engineers discovered that rapid side-to-side motions, similar to those made in sudden lane changes, could cause the center belt buckle to unlatch and consequently release the passenger.

Lack of Fall Protection Still on OSHA's Top 10 Most Cited Violations

The 2017 top violations remain largely unchanged from 2016, with fall protection General Requirements at the top of the lost. However, in 2017 "Fall Protection - Training Requirements", is now added to the top 10 list, at number nine.

Mazda Recalls 60,000 Vehicles for Potential Power Steering and Airbag Issues

Mazda recently announced that it is recalling more than 60,000 of its 2015 and 2016 Mazda 6 sedans due to a wiring problem that can impede power-assisted steering and deactivate front passenger airbags. According to the safety recall report, the occupant classification sensor wire harness located below the front passenger seat may come into contact with welding debris on the seat frame and cause an electrical shortage. This may cause multiple warning lights to go off and, in some cases, may lead to a loss of power steering and deactivation of the front passenger airbags. Although the loss of power steering can increase the risk of a crash, no accidents related to this condition have been reported. The recall is expected to begin at the end of this month. Dealers will examine affected vehicles and install insulating tape or a protective pad in order to shield the wires.

Boy Scouts of America Violation of Policy Leads to Untimely Death of Teen

A family has recently filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America, alleging negligence on behalf of the organization for the death of their teenage son. Last June, Reid Comita enrolled in a backpacking course in order to fulfill his final requirement to accomplish Eagle Scout. According to his father, his family specifically signed Reid up for the introductory backpacking class because their son was not very athletic and because that specific course requires that at least two adults accompany the hiking troop. Accordingly, the Comitas felt the introductory course was the safest option for their son.

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