An Update from Our Firm about COVID-19

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner remains fully operational and committed to serving our clients and colleagues throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As we follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing, we remain available for phone consultations and remote meetings with both current and prospective clients and colleagues. Please contact our office by email or by calling 713-222-7211 with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner's Blog

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Gala

Photo of Benny Agosto
It was my honor and distinct pleasure to attend the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. this week. It was surreal to meet the democratic leadership of the House and Senate, congressmen, senators, private- sector executives, judges, and students from all over the United States. Not to mention, listening to President Obama deliver a meaningful speech that had all the flavor of election time preparation. The Awards Gala is an opportunity for the CHCI to publicly acknowledge the level of dedication to the community that the honorees exemplify. This year's honorees included Eva Longoria Parker, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Arturo Sandoval. The event was hosted by Soledad O'Brian, a former honoree, and entertainment was provided by Sheila E. and Pee Wee Salinas. I attended the event not only in an individual capacity but also in my position as President-Elect of the Hispanic National Bar Association. It was a great opportunity to meet lawmakers and discuss certain issues that affect the Hispanic community but to also to see the collective force Hispanics are gaining nationwide.

CLEAR Act Oil Spill Bill Narrowly Passes House of Representatives

On July 30, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act by a 209-193 margin. If enacted, this legislation could bring considerable change to the offshore oil industry.

"Medical Journal Consultants"

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In a recent study, comparing significant payments made to "consultants" by orthopedic device companies, it was concluded there was a lack of public transparency when those "consultants" contributed to medical journal articles. The study, published on The Archives of Internal Medicine website, involved 32 medical doctors and researchers who were paid at least $1 million in 2007 and published one or more journal articles in 2008. The study concluded that 25 out of 32 of those "consultants" to the medical device companies, or their publishers, failed to reveal their financial connections in the journal articles.The failure to disclose the financial relationships between the doctors, researchers, medical device companies and the journals calls into serious question the validity, integrity and safety of the products written about in medical journals that are reviewed by health care providers throughout the world. This conduct also calls into question the possible widespread abuse and corruption that may permeate the entire medical research industry. Readers of these studies should be given all of the information about the device, including any possible bias (financial or otherwise) so they can draw their own independent conclusions on the efficacy of the medical equipment, devices and pharmaceuticals. It was reported that five companies (Zimmer, DePuy Orthopaedics, Stryker, Biomet and Smith & Nephew) paid about $250 million to consultants in 2007 including royalties. Of that money, approximately $114 million went to 41 doctors.

Johnson & Johnson Recalls DePuy Hip Replacements

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Recently, at the end of August 2010, Johnson & Johnson, along with its DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary, announced that it is recalling parts used in hip replacements. The recall includes the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System - the cup portion of a replacement hip joint - and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System. There are an estimated 93,000 people that have the defective hardware. The recall came on the heels of the National Joint Registry of England and Wales report, which found that one eighth of all patients with the ASR hip replacement had to suffer repeated surgery to make adjustments to the device within five years of receiving the implant. Many patients have had multiple surgeries and severe complications; now we know why.

"Consumer Reports Now Rating Doctors"

Medical groups that perform heart bypass surgery are now being rated alongside cars and trucks in Consumer Reports. In most parts of the country, data-based ratings of doctors are not available to patients. The magazine published ratings of 221 surgical groups from 42 states online on Tuesday and will print them in its October issue. Only groups, not individual doctors are rated. The groups receive one, two or three stars, for below average, average or above average. The scores were based on complication and survival rates, whether the groups used the best surgical technique, and whether patients were being sent home with certain medicines that research has shown to be beneficial after this type of surgery.

Toyota's woes continue

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Toyota is once again recalling vehicles due to an issue with the vehicle engine control module (ECM), this time recalling 1.3 million vehicles. The latest recall affects Matrix and Carolla models from 2005 to 2008. The failures of the ECM in these vehicles can cause a faulty check-engine light alert, rough shifting, or even an engine stall-out while driving. General Motors was also forced to issue a similar recall for over 200,000 Pontiac Vibes that built in the company's jointly owned plant. The specific engine in question causing these accidents is a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine (engine code 1ZZ-FE). There have already been three confirmed accidents with injuries directly attributed to ECM failures in these engines.

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation Announces the Creation of Fellows Program

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For the past 25 years, the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas (MABATx) has provided a forum and a means for lawyers to promote the social, economic, and educational advancement of the people of Texas. In addition, MABATx has strived to serve the Mexican-American populous and all Hispanics, by providing services, assistance, and advice on matters of legal concern to the community; all the while encouraging respect, fairness, justice and equality. Five years ago, during my term as President of MABATx, I created the MABATx Foundation in an effort to present an opportunity to provide scholarships to deserving law students.

Not a Good Year for BP - Toxic Spill at BP Plant in Texas City

Photo of Brant Stogner

The entire world is still watching the unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster is still mounting. Most of the blame for the disaster in the gulf is being placed on British Petroleum (BP). Meanwhile, in Texas City, BP's refinery released hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen Benzene. Rather than shutting down the refinery to make repairs, BP tried to divert the gases to have them burned off. This decision allowed at least 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to pour from the Texas City factory in April, May and June of this year.

SUPREME COURT EXTENDS PUBLIC IMMUNITY TO RESIDENT

The Texas Supreme Court recently extended the immunity of public officials to a doctor in his residency at a private medical school. The case was Klein, et al. v. Hernandez, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2010)(5/7/10).

"Alcohol & Hazing Related Incidents Continue at University of Texas"

The University of Texas Dean of Students Office is now investigating two separate incidents of alcohol poisoning involving students.
At 3 a.m. Wednesday, just hours before the first day of classes were to begin at the University of Texas, a student living at the Hardin House, a private dormitory for women in West Campus, called campus police after discovering her roommate unconscious and foaming at the mouth in the shower. The young woman, who had been part of a pledging event for a sorority, was treated for alcohol poisoning.
Then, at 3:43 a.m., another student alerted campus police after finding her roommate passed out in the bathroom of their Almetris Duren Hall dormitory room on the UT campus. The second young woman had also been involved in pledging a sorority when she was treated for alcohol poisoning.

  • $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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