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April 2018 Archives

Oil Dispersants Used in Oil Spills May Cause Health Problems

The National Institutes of Health recently conducted a study entitled the Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study, in which it determined workers exposed to oil dispersants during the Deep Water Horizons cleanup are likely to experience respiratory issues and other health problems.

Fiery Valero Plant Explosion

On April 19, 2018, Valero Energy's Texas City refinery plant faced a dangerous situation when an explosion caused one of the high-octane gasoline refining units to burst into flame. The explosion is a reminder of why any company engaged in a dangerous business has a heightened responsibility to its employees.

Psychiatric Hospitals and Their Safety Records Regarding Suicide and Assaults

A local newspaper reviewed several public records and lawsuits and found that around half of the psych hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have had at least one major safety incident since 2011. A major safety incident was defined as a suicide or significant attempt, a report of unwanted sexual contact, or a serious physical attack.

Investigation Continues After First U.S. Airline Fatality in Nine Years

On April 17, a woman was killed on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 when the left engine exploded. The twin-engine Boeing 737 was traveling from New York to Dallas with 149 people onboard when shrapnel from the explosion penetrated the aircraft's fuselage and broke a window in the passenger cabin causing depressurization and the deployment of oxygen masks. Jennifer Riordan, a banking executive from New Mexico, was sucked partway out of a nearby window and struck by some of the debris. Several of the passengers ran to pull her back into the cabin and gave her CPR, while other passengers plugged the hole. The flight made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. At least 7 other passengers were injured.

First Fatality from Uber's Autonomous Vehicle

Uber's fully autonomous car program has suffered a serious setback after one of its vehicles hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first time an autonomous vehicle operating in self-driving mode has caused a fatality. The self-driving Uber struck a woman crossing a street in Tempe.

Jury Awards $17 Million to Motorcyclist Injured in U-Haul Crash

Recently, a Brazos County District Court jury awarded $17 million to a motorcyclist who sustained serious injuries when he was forced off the road by a U-Haul employee driving a moving truck with a trailer in tow.

20-Year-Old Charged with Two Counts of Intoxication Manslaughter

Early on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Shayla Joseph and her 9-month-old daughter were headed southbound on the feeder road of the Gulf Freeway near Clear Lake at El Dorado. Suddenly, an SUV traveling at a high speed slammed into the back of the compact car in which they were riding, killing both.

Texas Supreme Court Opinion Interpreting the Texas Tort Claims Act Draws Two Dissents

In a rare 5-4 decision issued without hearing oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court dismissed a wrongful death suit filed against the City of San Antonio by the widow of a motorcyclist who was killed in a high speed chase with the San Antonio Police Department. The widow had not provided the City with notice required under San Antonio's City Charter and under the Texas Tort Claims Act, and while there is a statutory exception for "actual notice," the Supreme Court held that San Antonio did not have actual notice under the existing case law even though there was a policy crash report detailing the accident and listing "Fleeing or Evading Police" as a contributing factor. The case, City of San Antonio v. Tenorio, and the dissents offered by four of the justices, are informative for anyone interested in the rights of Texans to seek compensation when they are injured by the government.

Residential Homeowners Sue Engineering Firm for Hurricane Harvey Damage

Residents of the Riverstone community, located in a suburb of Houston, have filed suit against Costello, Inc., an engineering firm, for faulty design of the Riverstone community which caused severe rainwater intrusion into hundreds of homes during Hurricane Harvey. There are 423 homeowners that are included in this lawsuit. The homes that were damaged are located in five different subdivisions in the Riverstone community: Sweetbriar, Millwood, The Orchard, Lost Creek, and Shadow Glen. All these subdivisions are located within Levee Improvement District 19 (LID 19) which was created in 2007. Other neighborhoods within the Riverstone community are located within LID 15 which was created in 2001.

Court Awards $6.45 Million Judgment in 'Revenge Porn' Case

A woman, identified as "Jane Doe" in court records, has obtained a $6.45 million judgment in federal court against a former boyfriend, David K. Elam II, for accusations that Elam posted intimate photos of her as "revenge porn" online. Revenge porn is online harassment that occurs when former lovers or hackers post sexually explicit images of people online without their permission. In this case, the court found that Elam was liable for the injuries caused by his "systematic revenge porn campaign" and ordered him to pay damages to Doe.

Airborne Car Strikes Bus Killing Two On I-45

A deadly car collision involving a charter bus left at least two dead and others injured. The collision occurred in Walker County, Texas on I-45 and FM 1375. At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, passengers in a bus witnessed a maroon SUV traveling northbound lose control and go airborne across a median. The passengers screamed and ran to the back of the bus as the SUV struck a silver car ahead of the bus, causing the silver car to slam into the bus. The silver car also struck a black Nissan Altima. Investigators described the scene as "horrific."

Lawsuits Filed Against Gas Company After Neighborhood Explosions

On February 23, a fatal gas explosion occurred in a northwest Dallas neighborhood. The explosion leveled a family's home severely injuring four people and killing 12-year-old girl. Following the explosion, more than 300 other residences, including 2,800 people, were evacuated from the neighborhood.

Social Media and Your Case

Nearly two-thirds of American adults use social media. However, when it comes to a lawsuit, defense lawyers and insurance companies are using social media more and more frequently as a tactic to diminish or devalue one's case. Here are some tips:

Recent Report Says Diagnostic Errors are Largest Source of Medical Malpractice Claims

According to a recent report, errors related to diagnostic studies were the largest source of medical malpractice claims across a five-year period. The report was prepared by Coverys, a malpractice services provider. In preparing the report, the authors reviewed 10,618 medical malpractice claims made from 2013 to 2017. The authors found that 33% of malpractice claims were related to errors made during patient diagnosis and more than half of those claims involved poor clinical decisions. Claims involving surgical procedures came in second at 24% followed by medical management claims at 14%. Of the 10,618 claims, researchers noted that 54% of diagnoses-related claims were high-severity and 36% resulted in death. Researchers noted that vulnerabilities in the diagnostic process can begin with the first patient visit and continue all the way through to the follow-up phase after evaluation, testing, and treatment. For example, 33% of diagnostic-related claims occurred because the doctors failed to appropriately evaluate the patient, including obtaining a detailed patient and family history and performing a physical examination of the patient. Approximately 52% of claims involved diagnostic tests and lab tests, including errors in ordering, performing, transmitting. and interpreting the tests. Coverys researchers found that the majority of diagnosis-related claims stem from general medicine (24%), followed by hospital and facility-related claims (19%), radiology (14%), medical subspecialties (11%), emergency medicine (11%), and surgery (9%). According to the report, of the 3,466 closed claims from 2013 to 2017 with diagnosis-related allegations, claims involving cancer were the most prevalent, followed by infections, cardiac/vascular conditions, fractures/dislocations, and myocardial infarctions. To improve accuracy in making diagnoses, the authors recommended a team-based approach in which doctors are encouraged to discuss clinical cases with others.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Roads for Truckers

Fleet Management Company Zonar, compiled a list of the most dangerous sections of roads before the holiday season. During the holiday season, there is an average increase of 36% in highway traffic. Some of the highways which already have a high danger rating due to the sheer number of crashes and fatalities by volume, like "US-1" for instance can become dramatically more dangerous during the holidays.

Confidential Settlement Reached in Dram Shop Case Against Chilos Seafood Restaurant Incorporated

Firm Partner Benny Agosto, has reached a confidential settlement against Chilos Seafood Restaurant Incorporated regarding an incident that occurred on January 12, 2015. The settlement brings a favorable end to the lawsuit seeking compensation for the death of Ms. Allison Gallegos and Mrs. Eliselda Martinez in a car crash

Driver of Tesla Model X Dies as a Result of Fatal Crash

On March 23, 2018, a driver of a Tesla Model X SUV vehicle was involved in a fatal car accident. The driver was 38-year-old Walter Huang who was an Apple engineer. Huang left behind a wife and two kids. The accident occurred in the afternoon on a stretch of highway in Mountain View, California where Huang crashed into a barrier and his vehicle caught fire. Huang was removed from the vehicle by rescuers and taken to a hospital where he later died from injuries he sustained in the crash.

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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