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Commercial Litigation Archives

State Farm Avoids Trial with Preliminary Agreement to Pay $250,000,000

One of the largest auto insurance companies has reached a $250 million preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that State Farm violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act). The plaintiffs believe State Farm funneled money through several advocacy groups, which in turn kept donor lists anonymous, in order to elect a certain candidate to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004.

Broken Promises: How to Recover from Sub-Par Contractors Post-Harvey

Following the wake of Hurricane Harvey, thousands of homes were in need of extensive and immediate repair. Before Harvey had even left the state, contractors descended on homeowners. Many of these contractors made promises they could not fulfill-sometimes intentionally-to get these homeowners business.

Last Year's Worst Corporate Conduct

While the newspapers, news broadcasters, and social media may highlight the most high-profile examples of corporate collapses and scandal, they are hardly isolated incidents. Well known corporations are behind some of the biggest scandals of the decade, some corporations include Wells Fargo, McKession Corp., and Equifax. Each story is result of a corporate culture that values profit over accountability, integrity, and opportunity, or in other words wants more "bang for its buck." The potential negative impact for corporate misconduct is the legal consequences, such as penalty, fines, and/or jail time. Despite this, corrupt corporations are willing to commit wrongful acts in order to gain large incentives. "The world's 20 leading banks spent an estimate $350 billion on costs related to misconduct over the last five years, including penalties, fines, settlements, and other legal expenses."

Employees May Profit from Disclosing Their Employer's Fraud

The False Claims Act allows people who are employed by companies receiving federal benefits, such as grants, to file actions against their employer for defrauding the federal government. These claimants are informally known as "whistleblowers." Persons filing under the Act stand to receive a portion (usually about 15-25 percent) of any recovered damages. The Act provides a legal tool to counteract fraudulent billings turned in to the federal government. Claims are most commonly filed by persons with insider knowledge of false claims involving health care, military, or other government spending programs.

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.

Texas Supreme Court Weighs in on Post-Judgement Claims Against a Defendant's Insurer

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in Great American Insurance Company v. Hamel clarifying the circumstances where an insurer who refuses to provide a defense to its insured may be held accountable for a judgment successfully obtained against its insured. In the underlying case, homeowners sued their builder for failing to construct their home in a good and workmanlike manner. They claimed that defects in workmanship caused water damage. The builder's insurance company refused to provide the builder with a defense to the homeowner's claims. Prior to trial, the homeowners and builder agreed, in effect, that if the homeowners were successful, then the homeowners would not seek to collect on the assets of the builder.

Harris County v. Harris County Appraisal District and PRSI Trading, LLC

Harris County, represented by firm attorneys Benny Agosto, Jr. and Brian S. Humphrey II, received an important win from a Houston appellate court in a property tax case involving a Houston oil refinery. In a 2-1 decision handed down last Thursday, the First Court of Appeals in Harris County v. Harris County Appraisal District reversed the trial court's ruling and rendered judgment that inventory held in a refinery operated by Pasadena Refining System, Inc. was not exempt from local property taxes under the federal Foreign Trade Zones Act. The exemption was claimed on crude oil, refined products, and other inventory valued at over $100 million during the relevant tax years, representing millions in tax revenue for Harris County and the other taxing jurisdictions.

Changes for Consumer Suits Against Banks on the Horizon

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection recently issued a proposed rule that would restore consumers' rights to bring class-action lawsuits against financial firms, such as banks and credit card companies. The proposed rule would prevent enforcement of arbitration clauses requiring consumers to present their disputes to private arbitrators favorable to the financial firms.

Tom Brady's "Deflategate" Win Part of a Bad Month for Sports Arbitration

If you follow sports at all, you have undoubtedly heard about the "Deflategate" scandal that has embroiled the NFL throughout the offseason, in which New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended by the NFL for four games after being found complicit in a scheme to deflate game balls to suit Brady's preference before the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. You probably have also heard about last week's ruling by a federal judge overturning the suspension and ordering Brady reinstated.

Apple App Security Breach

In early September there were hundreds of legitimate apps in the iOS App Store infected with malicious code. Apple is well known for strict security checks that rarely allow any negative damaging software into their merchandise. The technology giant is in the process of shutting down the first large-scale software breach that runs from iPhones and iPads via apps.

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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When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

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