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Honoring my father-in-law and all veterans

Memorial Day ushers in our summer with BBQ’s, the Colonial golf tournament down the street from my office, and a relaxing 3-day weekend. Most of us may not stop to think about what it cost to obtain our care-free summer days. But we should never take them for granted.

Millions of soldiers fought and hundreds of thousands died so that we could live in the greatest country in the history of the world. You may forget this until you watch gut-wrenching movies like “Saving Private Ryan,” “Dunkirk,” or others that show you the incredible sacrifices they made.

I am proud that my father-in-law, Samuel Rubinton, served four years in World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel. And incredibly, he worked his way up from a private! He was awarded several military honors for valor for his work behind enemy lines and is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. I never had the privilege to meet this fine man, as he died many years before I married my wonderful wife 30 years ago this August, but wish that I had.

Despite our differing beliefs and opinions, we can still rally together as families, friends, and as a single nation on Memorial Day in remembrance and gratitude.

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One of the reasons I love living in Texas is how nice people are. And I grew up in Nashville where folks were just as friendly.

Most of us drive responsibly and even go out of our way to help others get around.

But should there be a limit to our Southern hospitality if it endangers others?

What if a driver is slowing down for a red light and another driver signals to turn left. After Driver 1 waves Driver 2 across and he darts across, Driver 3 crashes into 2’s car. Which of the three people caused the collision to happen?

Multi-vehicle cases can be difficult. I just settled a lawsuit when my client was driving on a busy road at night in the rain. A young woman claimed that she was waved through and was therefore not responsible for causing the collision. I took her deposition, made her admit that she was in fact responsible, and successfully resolved the lawsuit.

This tactic of blaming other drivers is often raised in-car accident cases.

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I was very happy with the Berenson Group, they were very helpful in advising us our rights and options. Got me and my wife a fast and great settlement.

Hopefully you won’t need their service, but if you’re in an accident don’t hesitate to call these folks!!”  

Thank you for that wonderful review, Nestor. I’m glad you were so pleased. It was a pleasure representing you.

It’s exciting — and scary — that we will be “driving” self-driving cars soon. How quickly and safely depends upon the actions of lawmakers in the next few weeks.

Today much less restrictive Department of Transportation guidelines are being announced. Last week the U.S. House passed the SELF DRIVE Act. This past Friday a similar bill was proposed in the U.S. Senate which has bi-partisan support.

While these news laws and regulations will expedite the development of self-driving technology, they unfortunately relax standards for vehicle safety. While the auto industry cheered the new rules and plan to rush new models to marketMany safety advocates have voiced objections. Why? These laws exempts manufacturers from crucial safety regulations controlling braking, airbag and steering systems.

We know that with millions of Takata airbags that had to be recalled after some exploded and shot shrapnel into drivers and passengers, killing at least 11 people, the GM ignition switches that suddenly shut engines off, and the other auto safety debacles in the past 10 years, our vehicles are already more dangerous than ever.


Thorny new legal questions

And how will personal injury litigation be affected? Here are just some of the questions lawyers and judges will have to confront:

  • Who will be held responsible if there is a collision — the manufacturer, say Tesla? The software developer, say Google? The driver, say you?
  • How much control will the driver have to maintain?
  • Can the driver take over the self-driving mode to prevent a collision, and if he doesn’t, will he or she be at fault?
  • Can these vehicles be hacked into and disabled, causing crashes?

Just yesterday Google accepted some of the liability for the crash that killed its driver last year as he was test driving a Tesla.

How will courts be able to determine liability without complicated and expensive scientific and engineering experts? What if the driver claims the software suddenly stopped working? What if it does? What if the driver fails to download needed updates? It’s a potential legal nightmare.

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During this devastating week, hopeful stories about heroic actions and kind gestures have eased this tragedy, at least somewhat. Bakers trapped at work spent the night baking thousands of loaves of bread to donate to shelters. The owner of a furniture store opened his doors so hundreds of displaced people could stay. Residents have ventured out of their own safe homes to make daring rescues of trapped residents, even risking their lives to save animals caught in the floods. Texans outside of Houston have donated their money and supplies. And these are just the ones we’ve heard about, and in addition to the hundreds of medical, rescue and relief workers whose jobs it is to be heroes.

But, Harvey has not brought out the best in everyone. While some people have viewed Harvey as an opportunity to help our neighbors, others have looked for ways to cash in.

Unscrupulous gas stations are charging up to $20 per gallon. Ruthless hotels have increased room rates by more than 200 percent. Greedy stores are peddling cases of bottled water for $99. Even Best Buy got in on the action, selling a case of water for $42.96.

Price gouging is not just despicable. It’s illegal.

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) prohibits businesses from taking advantage of a disaster by demanding exorbitant prices for fuel, food, medicine and other necessities.

If a clean conscience can’t get gougers to stop, maybe the threat of fines and lawsuits will.

What Should You Do if You Are Price Gouged?

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Hurricane Harvey has caused catastrophic flooding in Houston and surrounding communities. Already the scene looks eerily similar to Hurricane Katrina, with the streets completely impassible because of rising waters and people desperately trying to escape their homes by boat or being rescued by helicopter.

Many hospitals have been inundated with water and high winds have grounded their medevac helicopters, while ambulances have been unable to maneuver through the flooded streets.

And it’s not over yet.

Unbelievably, rain is expected to continue for five or six more days, dumping 15 to 30 inches, and in some places, an insane 40 inches.

The National Weather Service called it “unprecedented rain” that is “beyond anything experienced.” The National Hurricane Center called the catastrophe a “multiday rainfall disaster.”

It is truly heartbreaking. I hope for the safety of everyone affected by this incredible tragedy. Continue reading

Yesterday the amazing Venus Williams blew away her opponent at the world famous Wimbledon tennis tournament. She’ll play for her sixth title onSaturday.

Venus, who at 37 is very old for an athlete, may make history by becoming the oldest woman ever to win Wimbledon. The previous record holder was our former Fort Worth resident Martina Navratilova who was also 37 when she reached the finals in 1994.

And the first American man to play in the semifinals since 2009, Sam Querrey, is playing now, so we have our strongest American showing in London in many years.

Venus’s Crash 

Venus has excelled despite just being sued when she was involved in a car wreck last month in Florida.

The tennis star was driving slowly through a light when her SUV was T-boned by a car driven by a 68-year-old woman who was seriously injured. Her 78-year-old husband tragically died several weeks later.

The family has filed a lawsuit against Venus for wrongful death and personal injury damages.

The accident report initially blamed Venus for running the light. But the police department now says it doesn’t know which driver was at fault. What made it reverse its position?

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