January 30, 2015

Head-On Crash East Of Dallas Takes Life Of Former Deputy

Thumbnail image for Kevin Hanes Could More Effective Roadway Safety Strategies Prevent Head-On Collisions in Texas?

Friends and family gathered to mourn the death of a former Henderson County Deputy. The tragic accident occurred last Wednesday at 1.30 p.m. on Loop 7 in Athens. Kevin Hanes, 37, was driving his 2001 Ford Ranger east on the Texas highway when he for unknown reasons crossed the center line into oncoming westbound traffic. The truck ran head on into a 1999 Lincoln Continental, driven by 77 year-old Bobrow Gunnels of Kemp, TX.

Both drivers were transported to East Texas Medical Center where Mr. Hanes was pronounced dead and Mr. Gunnel was last reported as being in serious condition. The head-on auto accident remains under investigation.

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January 29, 2015

Trial Begins in Midland Veterans Parade Crash

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Second Lawsuit in 2012 Collision Between Freight Train and Parade Float

The trial began yesterday in the horrific crash between a freight train and a parade float carrying 26 veterans and their families to a parade in their honor. Attorneys picked the jury on Tuesday and presented opening statements on Wednesday morning at the Midland County Courthouse. The jury consists of six women and six men who will hear the facts about this devastating tragedy. 

26 plaintiffs settled an earlier lawsuit filed against Union Pacific Railroad for a confidential damages award, while 17 others opted to take their case to trial.

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January 26, 2015

Dallas Nurse Dies After Hit By Bus Across From His Hospital


Pedestrian Was Walking in Crosswalk When He Was Fatally Struck By Shuttle Bus

A pair of running shoes still on the road is a heart-breaking reminder of the dedicated medical professional killed in front of the hospital he had served for close to 33 years. 61 year-old Randal Dygert was crossing Harry Hines Boulevard near Medical District Drive on Friday just before 7 a.m. on Friday when he was struck by a shuttle bus dropping patients off at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The shuttle bus dragged the nurse 50 yards. He died instantly upon impact.

Another hospital employee who was also struck by the van was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in stable condition. Thankfully, she is expected to recover from her injuries.

The two employees were in or near the crosswalk when they were hit. However, they did not have the green light. But according to witnesses, around that time of the morning, the area is typically filled with pedestrians arriving to and leaving from work during the regular shift change.


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January 24, 2015

New MADD Report Has Terrible News For Texans - Again

MADD Report of the Nation

Texas Repeats Its #1 Status In DWI Deaths 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released its annual Report to the Nation to rate each state's DUI-prevention laws and to highlight MADD's proposals for effective legislation. The report is based upon 2013 statistics, including numbers of DUI fatalities and advances in legislative actions.

In past years, Texas has been #1 in DUI deaths. I had hoped that we would fall in the ranks this year. But, sadly, we are number one again. 1,337 people died in Texas drunk driving accidents in 2013. And despite our extraordinary death rate, Texas lawmakers have done little -- if anything -- to curb drunk driving in our state.

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January 23, 2015

We Are All Plaintiffs In Lawsuit Over "The Catch" - Friday Humor?

Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant

Every Cowboys fan - and every Texan - is now a plaintiff in a lawsuit for damages suffered because of the bad call in last Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. 

As if it hasn't already been a crazy year in the National Football League with the melodramas caused by Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Michael Sams, now comes this fiasco. A inmate in a Colorado jail known for frivolous lawsuits has just filed a petition against the National Football League and its commissioner, director of officiating, and referee alleging that Dez Bryant did catch that ball last Sunday. He is seeking close to $89 billion in damages. Huh?

Plaintiffs named are "Terry C. Hendrix on behalf of Dez Bryant #88, All Dallas Cowboys Fans, and All People in or and from the Sovereign Republic of Texas."

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January 21, 2015

Texting While Driving Ban Wins Bipartisan Support At State Leg

texting driverDemand That Texas Legislature Put Our Safety First

Rarely are Democrats and Republicans on the same side of an issue in Texas. Finally, both parties agree on something and yet they still have not succeeded in making it into law. For the fifth legislative session, lawmakers will introduce a bill to ban texting while driving. The bill has enough bipartisan support to pass, but not enough support to override the governor's likely veto.

The Texas Tribune has been covering the issue in its eight-part State of Mind series. In one segment, the video highlights the tragic story of Jennifer Smith whose mom was killed by a driver talking on her cell phone. Ms. Smith is spearheading efforts to ban texting while driving nationwide. As she put it, "no phone call, no text message, nothing, is worth a life."

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January 20, 2015

How To Settle A Child's Injury Claim In Texas Courts

Gavel Some lawsuits really are friendly. 

Lawsuits, by their very nature, are typically adversary proceedings so the idea of a friendly lawsuit seems counterintuitive. However, at times, parties that agree on all terms of a settlement may need court approval. The parties must, therefore, file pleadings and have a hearing in front of a judge to finalizethe judicial process.

As an auto accident lawyer, I regularly participate in "friendly lawsuits" when representing injured minor children. Following these procedures protects the interests of my adult clients and their children and helps facilitate efficient settlement of their claims, especially with significant injuries and damages.

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January 17, 2015

How Are Auto Crashes Controlled By Medical Malpractice Law?

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Creative Defense or Delay Tactic in Cow /Car Collision?

In a quirky case currently before the Texas courts, a doctor has filed a motion to dismiss based upon medical malpractice laws. What is so odd about that? This case involves a car accident and has nothing to do with medical treatment.

The plaintiff, Bobby Tunell, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Richard K. Archer, claiming the 82 year-old retired doctor's cow became loose and wandered into the highway, which resulted in a collision between Mr. Tunell and the cow. Dr. Archer's lawyer has filed a very typical motion to dismiss -- for a medical malpractice claim, that is. He claims that the case should be dismissed based upon the plaintiff's failure to first file an expert report about the doctor's duty of care.

Expert Report Requirement

Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code requires a patient to submit an expert report before she or he can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor. To comply with the Texas statute, the expert report must demonstrate the standard of care the doctor was expected to provide to the patient. This statute arose from tort reform laws passed by Texas lawmakers with the intention of protecting medical professionals from frivolous lawsuits. Clearly, the legislature meant for the law to apply to medical malpractice claims, not to any possible civil case against a medical professional.

However, in its 2012 decision in Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams, the Texas Supreme Court interpreted the rule as applying to cases in which the plaintiff's claim was not directly related to his medical care. Dr. Archer's attorney says the Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams ruling is "ridiculous," but that he has a duty to his client to pursue dismissal based upon that ruling.

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January 15, 2015

10 People Killed When Texas Prisoner Van Collides With Train


Four Other Occupants Seriously Injured in the Tragic Auto Accident

In a scene straight out of "The Fugitive" movie, eight prisoners and two guards are dead after their bus slid into the path of a freight train early Wednesday morning. The horrific accident happened at 7.30 a.m. on Interstate 20 in Ector County just outside of Penwell and Odessa. 

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus was transporting 12 male inmates from the Middleton Unit in Abilene to the Sanchez Unit in El Paso. Three corrections officers were also in the bus. The driver lost control on an icy overpass, hit a guardrail and then skidded down an embankment onto the railroad tracks. The van slammed into a passing train, which dragged the mangled vehicle until it was able to stop. The bus rolled over and landed on its side. Debris from the van and train cars littered the area next to the tracks. Although the train did not derail, a UPS train car spewed hundreds of packages and the content of boxes that had burst open during the impact.

The Union Pacific train was en route from Los Angeles to Arkansas and just happened to be on that stretch of rural road at the worst possible moment. The train was carrying cargo, but fortunately no passengers, and the only two employees on the train were a conductor and an engineer, who escaped injury.

In accordance with normal protocol, the prisoners were handcuffed to each other and were not wearing seat belts in the school bus-like vehicle. Their legs were not shackled.

In addition to the eight inmates who died, the four others were seriously injured. The sole surviving corrections officer also sustained severe injuries in the crash.

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January 14, 2015

Bishop Charged With DWI Death Got No VIP Treatment This Time



Judge Sets $2.5 Million Bail in the Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident

In the final days of 2014, Bishop Heather Cook killed cyclist Tom Palermo in a DWI crash that has rocked the Episcopal Church and the Baltimore community where the collision occurred. Bishop Cook has been charged with DWI and manslaughter in the December 27 accident in Roland Park.

Despite her prestigious position as the second highest-ranking Bishop in Maryland, the judge justly gave no special treatment to Bishop Cook when she appeared at her bond hearing on Monday. Bishop Cook's bail is set at $2.5 million, an amount she is unlikely to post. The bishop will presumably remain incarcerated until trial. The Episcopal Diocese has also placed Bishop Cook on administrative leave.

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January 13, 2015

What Are Latest Legal Developments Since Austin SXSW Disaster?

Rashad Charjuan Owens.jpg
Four Fans Killed and 22 Others Injured at Popular Austin Music and Film Festival

The drunk driver who ran over a crowd of fans at the SXSW concert last year was told on Friday to prepare for a November trial. Rashad Charjuan Owens, who has been charged with one count of capital murder, four counts of murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault, has remained in jail on a $5.5 million bond since his arrest on March 13, 2014.

The judge has ordered the defense attorneys and prosecutor to appear every six weeks to report on the status of the case. 

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January 12, 2015

Family Mourns Death of Eight-Year-Old Injured in 2009 DWI Crash


Tragically, Boy Spent Entire Life Since Age Two in Vegetative State

Eight year-old Abdallah Khader died Sunday morning from injuries he sustained in a 2009 Arlington DWI accident. Abdallah had live the majority of his short life in a vegetative state, unable to respond to his parents or breathe without the help of oxygen. He was only two when a drunk driver ran into his mother's car. Although properly strapped into his car seat, Abdallah suffered severe brain damage in the horrific crash. Having remained brain dead for almost six years, the boy sadly passed at 4:20 a.m. Sunday at the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Drunk Driver Still Not Brought to Justice After Almost Six Years

Stewart Richardson was 44 years old when he got drunk and climbed behind the wheel of his Ford F-250 pickup truck at 11 p.m. on a Friday night in February 2009. The Iowa man sped down South Cooper Street and barreled into the back of the 2003 Honda Accord driven by Abdallah Khader's mother as she waited at a red light. The ferocious impact of the crash sent the Honda sliding into the intersection of Oak Village Boulevard and into the path of a 1998 Ford Mustang. The toddler suffered skull fractures and traumatic brain damage (TBI). Bruising and strokes destroyed 80 percent of his brain tissue.

Richardson was arrested for drunk driving at the scene. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was three times the legal limit for driving in Texas. Richardson had an extensive history of drunk driving convictions.

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January 10, 2015

Judge Sudderth Appointed To Fort Worth Court Of Appeals; Mark Pittman Named To Replace Her As 352nd District Judge

278885_189746071089276_2540563_o.jpgState District Judge Bonnie Sudderth has been named to the bench of the Second Court of Appeals by Governor Perry. Her term is through the 2016 election.

Background of Judge Sudderth

Judge Sudderth has ably served as the judge of the 352nd Judicial District Court in Tarrant County since 1996. She has also taught at the Texas A&M University School of Law. She previously served as the chief judge of the Fort Worth Municipal Court.

Judge Sudderth is board certified in civil trial law and personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is a member and past president of the Eldon B. Mahon Inn of Court and American Judges Association, life member of the American Inns of Court Alumni Association and Texas Bar Foundation, and a charter member of the Tarrant County Bar Foundation.

She is a also fellow of the College of the State Bar of Texas and vice chair of the Rules Committee Trial Subcommittee, a member of the State Bar of Texas Pattern Jury Charges - Business, Consumer and Employment Committee and Litigation Section, and past chair of the Municipal Judges Section of The State Bar of Texas.

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January 9, 2015

Two Big Games On Tap Sunday and Monday - DFW DWI?


Safe Game Day Tailgating

The Oregon Ducks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Monday night's first ever College Football Playoff National Championship in Arlington, Over 60,000 fans from around the U.S.are converging on the Dallas-Fort Worth area to watch the big game. They will create dangerous conditions for Texas residents drinking at the big pre-game tailgating event, during the game, and afterwards as they celebrate.

And of course, the Cowboys take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon in another huge game. 

You can bet that hundreds of thousands of North Texas residents will be watching the big games in bars and in their houses - - presumably with a beer in hand. Obviously this can lead to DWI crashes. And to add to the increased danger on our DFW highways, there is a  chance of rain Saturday that could freeze that night and create icy roads.

Please be especially careful driving during the next four days.

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January 8, 2015

Dallas Man Arrested For His Eighth DWI - WTH?!

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Texas Courts Must Crack Down on Repeat Offenders

For most people a DWI is a wakeup call. Yet Harold "Mickey" Moore seems untouched by his past DWIs. Upon his release from prison after his sixth and seventh DWI, he shockingly did it again. 

His latest drunk driving accident occurred on November 17th at 6:25 P.M. Moore was driving his fancy Mercedes-Benz SUV down Texas 114 and crashed into a BMW sitting at a red light at West Dove Road. The BMW rolled forward into a Toyota Highlander that was also waiting at the light. Investigators say he never hit the brakes. Fortunately, noone was seriously injured.

Moore refused to willingly give blood or breath samples and so law enforcement officers obtained a warrant that allowed nurses at a Grapevine hospital to draw blood for alcohol testing. At 0.27 percent blood alcohol content, he had more than three times the legal limit in his system. 

His excuse? He was using the alcohol to numb the pain of a sciatic nerve, he claimed. That's right, instead of showing remorse, he made excuses for his eighth DWI arrest.

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