As a long time member of the board of directors of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association, I try to attend all of the monthly luncheons at Joe T. Garcia's. Today's was informative -- and had surprising news.
Judge Terry Means, after discussing procedures, rules and new cases in his court, announced that he had just decided to take senior status. For the first time in 22 years, we will only have one full time federal judge in our busy Fort Worth Division. Cases will be referred to judges in other cities.
It may take a long time to seat a new judge. Due to political infighting, judgeships across the country have remained empty for years.
I just got back to the office from Field Day at Rufino Mendoza Elementary School. I have been a proud supporter of the school since I chose it in the Adopt A School Program eight years ago, one way I try to help better our already wonderful city.
I have mentored children, spoken at Career Days, purchased books, running shoes, food, and clothes, cheered on the after-school running team, and led them in their exercises. I encourage the kids to stay in school, go to college and train for a career. I try to
I discussed the fact that red light cameras actually can increase our Fort Worth automobile crashes because the yellow times are shortened, often below the state minimum requirements, which can cause more people to run red lights. Apparently the Fort Worth Police Department hasn't been getting enough business with their idea, as they are sending out false red light tickets.
One of my paralegals reports that he received a red light camera ticket in the mail yesterday. He quickly realized that the license plate, color, make, and model of the car did not match his.
The ticket had his name, correct plate, and make and model on it, so it was not simply a mailing error, but rather the Fort Worth Red Light Enforcement office looked at a grainy picture of a license plate, made their best guess, and sent out a ticket without ever verifying that their guess matched up with any of the data.
I adopted the Rufino Mendoza Elementary School on the North Side seven years ago through the FWISD Adopt a School Program. Rufino Mendoza served as our city's police chief for many years.
Today I had the pleasure of talking to five classes at their annual career day. This was my seventh year in a row, and I always enjoy participating.
I get the children to start thinking about their futures and how they can be successful, productive, and happy.
I have fill out a brief questionaire that asks them what they want to be when they grow up, what subjects they will have to know, whether they will have to graduate from high school, graduate from college, and make good grades -- with the answers to the last three already checked "yes."
Over and over, I tell them they HAVE to graduate from high school and make them promise me that they will. If they get nothing else out of my presentation, I want it to be this.
We talk about which colleges they can go to, what they can study, and why they should attend. We talk about the importance of studying hard and following the rules.
I use my wonderful daughter as an example of how hard work pays off (Marissa got a complete scholarship to SMU)
Oh, I also tell them a little about what attorneys do.
I go to Mendoza as often as I can to help inspire the children and always end up feeling richer for the experience.
It's one of the small things I do to try to give back to this wonderful community and make this a better world.
As an adopted TCU fan who loves to go to games, work out in its Recreation Center, run on its track and who has lived in the area since I moved to Fort Worth back in 1979, I wanted to congratulate the Frogs.
Back when I went to the University of Texas (I graduated in 1976), Earl Campbell played for the Horns. When I was at SMU Law School, Eric Dickerson and Craig James led SMU to the #2 ranking. Both teams played TCU each year.
I attended the BIG game here in 1984 when Kenneth Davis was the top running back in the U.S. -- that is, before illegal pay offs were revealed and TCU was sanctioned. Its program, along with SMU's, went into decline, and it was not invited to join the Big 12 in 1996 when the Southwest Conference dissolved. TCU has wandered through three conferences since then.TCU finished as the #2 team in the U.S. last year and played in a BCS game in 2009.
TCU will be able to play UT, OU and many of its former Southwest Conference opponents. And just in time for the beautiful $160 million renovated stadium to open next fall.
Stay tuned for more musical chairs, as conference realignments aren't over.
Thousands of people visited the Fort Worth Zoo over spring break this week -- especially today to take advantage of half-price Wednesday admission. I could see some of the crowds out of my windows here in the River Plaza Tower where I have officed for over 29 years.
The Zoo has recently opened its Museum of Living Art, a collection of exotic and interesting reptiles and amphibians, which no doubt increased attendance.
I am a big fan of our zoo and was a regular there when my daughter Marissa was younger. We must have gone to the wonderful dinosaurs exhibit every weekend.
I hope all of the Fort Worth Zoo visitors, whether they be local or out-of-towners, enjoyed visiting our wonderful part of town -- and wonderful city.
And I hope that all of the drivers out there are being mindful of the traffic and courteous to other drivers. It is up to each one of us to keep Fort Worth roads safe.
Enjoy this pleasant weather and spring break, if you are lucky enough to have one! I don't, so I'd better get back to work.
For the second year in a row, a Fort Worth resident may be the next American Idol. But Texas Christian University grad Tim Halperin still has a long way to go before making it to the finals, like Casey James did last year.
I wanted to wish Tim good luck good and tell everyone to VOTE FOR TIM on Tuesday night.
Tim, who is 23, graduated with honors with a degree in marketing from TCU last year. He auditioned in Los Angeles and that episode aired February 3rd. Tim wasn't featured onscreen again until Wednesday's episode, when he and fellow contestant Julie Zorilla did a duet of the Beatles "Something" that went over well with all three judges. His final original audition piece for them also received praise.
For the first time, viewers will be able to vote online via Facebook. VOTE FOR TIM!
Idol will have a special Tuesday episode (7 p.m., KDFW/Channel 4) in which Tim and the other 11 male semifinalists will perform in front of a live audience. The women will perform Wednesday, and the results show will be Thursday.
I previously blogged about Casey and love to see Fort Worth residents on the show, don't you?
Make sure you tune in Tuesday and VOTE FOR TIM!
According to the school, Tim was a Chancellor's Scholar and earned a degree in marketing last year. His song, "We Fight Back," was part of the university's sixth annual Frogs for the Cure football game to support breast cancer research.
And speaking of KDFW, the Tarrant County Bar Association team I organized to run the 5K on Saturday beat that station's runners and 27 other teams to place 6th in a very competitive event. I was pleased to have our team's best time (21:49) - hey, not bad for the oldest member since we had a lot of law students from Texas Wesleyan- and place #2 in my age group of almost 200. And I placed #8 in the half marathon the next day.
I am preparing for my next big race in 3 weeks, the Tobacco Road Marathon. It is near Durham, North Carolina, where I am looking forward to seeing my brother Daniel, who went to Duke University and has lived there since he graduated in the late 60's.
Driving drunk is an inexcusable offense. And yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that fatal incidents involving drunk drivers increased from an average of 36 fatalities a day to 54 per day -- just over the New Years period.
I will be meeting tomorrow with the family of a man who was tragically killed by a drunk driver as he was walking across the street to buy groceries on Christmas Eve, of all nights, and I would love to have the opportunity to represent them and see that justice is done. Thank you, MADD, for the referral.
I see these drunk driver cases a lot - and they infuriate me every single time. We know that it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle drunk, we know the dangers, and yet people still do it every single day. One organization that I strongly support is MADD or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I believe strongly in what MADD is doing to combat drunk driving and donate to or sponsor many of their events.
I am also a big believer in the value of physical exercise, so I am excited to again sponsor MADD's "Walk Like MADD" event on Saturday, April 9th. It will start at the Trinity Park in Fort Worth, less than a mile away from my office, at 8:30 a.m. and will be a fun way to raise money for this great cause and encourage people to exercise. Registration information and other details about the April 9th walk are at www.walklikemadd.org.
I am constantly reading the new court decisions to make sure I am up to date on the latest cases that affect my clients ability to recover money for their damages. Here are some from the past month that you should know about, in order of importance to my auto and truck crash victims:
Feb. 4: Progressive County Mutual Insurance, Co. v. Delgado, Amarillo Court of Appeals: automobile insurance coverage, limitation of recovery of medical and health care expenses in a personal injury case under the "paid or incurred" provisions of Section 41.0105 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code. This continues the split of authority in the appellate courts as to whether all medical bills incurred or only those paid by health insurance or other outside sources can be the basis for the past medical bills included in a verdict, with the Amarillo court limiting the bills to only those paid by insurance in a defeat for the plaintiff's bar. The Texas Supreme Court will have to rule on this controversial subject, and as extremely conservative as its members are, I anticipate the Court unfortunately upholding decisions such as this one. However, until it does, I will continue to argue in court that my clients are entitled to be compensated for the ENTIRE amount of their medical bills.
Feb. 1: Admiral Ins. Co. v. H & W Industrial Services,Inc, Western District of Texas, El Paso (federal court): commercial general liability insurance; "your products" exclusion; impaired property; exclusion; duty to defend and duty to indemnify analyzed.
Feb. 7: Crowell v. Cigna Group Insurance, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (federal court): ERISA; long-term disability benefits decision.
Feb. 8: Jaster v. Shelter Mutual Ins. Co., Dallas Court of Appeals: property insurance coverage; principal-agency relationship.
Jan. 13: Calhoun v. F. Hall Mowing Co., Fort Worth Court of Appeals: workers' compensation insurance coverage; exclusive remedy provision discussed in depth.
Feb. 10: Nova Casualty Co. v. Turner Construction Co., Houston [14th Dist.] Court of Appeals: performance bond; trigger of performance bond obligations; notice of default; pre-judgment interest on attorneys' fees.
Super Bowl Week has begun in North Texas, with some of the activities occurring close to my office on University.
I was excited to see TCU's practice field, where I run some times, painted over with the Steelers logo in the end zone and players or personnel there. I also drove downtown to check out the monster ESPN set in Sundance Square and the giant logos on the Omni Hotel.
With 300 Super Bowl Week events throughout the Metroplex and 250,000 people flooding into North Texas this week, not to mention the icy weather predicted, it is even more important than usual to take precautions while driving on our roads.
First, remember whether you are attending the game or a Super Bowl party, have a designated driver or cab ready, if necessary, and remember that not everyone else next to you has done that.
•If you are hosting a super bowl party, stop serving alcohol during the third quarter
•If you are attending the super bowl, make sure you are consistently aware of the people around you, and report suspicious looking activities to the police
•If you are not attending the Super Bowl, avoid driving in and around Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington if at all possible
•Make sure to have a look at the Headed to the Game link at Star Telegram.com to get tips on area short cuts and construction delays and problems.
North Texas motorists waste 48 hours a year stuck in traffic! Although congestion has declined since 2006, freeways and city streets will become choked again once the economy improves, causing numerous delays and more unfortunate collisions.
Also with gas prices increasing, you may be startled to find out that Metroplex motorists burned an average of 38 gallons of fuel while stuck in traffic, either while idling or engaging in stop-and-go maneuvers. That was the seventh-worst amount nationally.
Traffic is one of the leading causes of severe accidents, especially when a negligent motorist is not paying attention and barrels through drivers who have stopped or slowed stopped as a result of the slowing traffic.
I have represented countless clients who were seriously injured as a result of being rammed into while slowing for traffic. For example, I currently represent a woman who was crashed into into by an 18-wheeler while she was stopped for traffic and the 18-wheeler was still going between 50-70 miles per hour obviously, not realizing that traffic had slowed in front of him.
If you have been hurt by a negligent driver, please call me. I will fight hard to recover your damages and punish the offending driver.
A police officer who was arrested in November on suspicion of DWI was found asleep behind the wheel on the job.She began laughing when police confronted her, according to Fort Worth police records.
Inside the car belonging to Officer Anastasia Brown, officers found drug paraphernalia with residue that they believed to be methamphetamine.
Four days after her arrest, Dallas Police Chief David Brown ordered Brown to submit to a drug test. She remains on administrative leave.
In the last year, several other officers have been accused of DWI, including Officer Domingo N. Martinez, Jared D. Cockerham and Bobby Brown of Fort Worth. And three officers were arrested for DWIs in 2009, including Ex-Officer Jesus Cisneros, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for causing a collision that killed Sonia Baker.
While almost all of of DFW's finest are obviously excellent hard working policemen and women, it is hard to believe that an officer would so blatantly engage in criminal conduct like the is, isnt' it?
After all, more than 1,400 people die in Texas each year due to DWIs. I call on our police -- who are hopefully not drunk -- to crack down on drunk or stoned drivers before they crash into you and me. Many of my clients have been hurt by idrunk drivers and it infuriates me.
If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, please call me. I will fight hard to recover your damages and punish the offending driver.