Archive for January, 2011

Republic Waste loses appeal of $1.4M wrongful death jury award

A Harris County jury awarded the family of 21-year old Oscar Alfredo Gomez $1,400,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Republic Waste Services. Republic Waste filed an appeal of that award based on an unusual legal argument: that Gomez was an illegal immigrant from El Salvador and that the jury should have heard evidence of his immigration status during the trial. Republic‘s appeal claims that Gomez’ immigration status should have been a factor in the calculation of Gomez’ family’s loss of his future lost income. Attorneys handling the appeal for Republic Waste claim that Gomez probably would have been detected and deported during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of Republic‘s Houston office that took place two weeks after Gomez died.  As such, argued Republic Waste‘s lawyers, Gomez’ future lost income should have been calculated based on his likely annual wages in El Salvador ($1,000/year) versus his wages working in Houston ($33,000/year).

The First Court of Appeals disagreed with Republic‘s argument and in a January 20th opinion said that the trial court correctly exercised its discretion in not allowing the jury to hear evidence of Gomez’ immigration status.  The appeals court said that Republic‘s claim that Gomez would have been deported in the raid was “speculative” on Republic‘s part.

Gomez was killed January 15, 2007 when he was run over by a garbage truck driven by another Republic Waste employee. After his death Republic discovered Gomez had falsified his immigration paperwork and used another person’s social security number to get the job. The lawsuit against Republic was filed by Gomez’ common law wife who lives in Houston with their daughter and by his father who lives in El Salvador.  The driver of the trash truck that killed Gomez and Republic Waste were sued. The jury found in favor of the Gomez family and awarded $1,400,000 which included $1,275,000 for future lost wages.

Texans grappling with hip implant defects: Find out what you can do

People living in and around Houston are hardy and active folks, but Texans, along with the rest of America, are getting older. It’s not uncommon for a healthy older person to need a joint replacement. Hip replacements and other common procedures can allow a Texan to maintain a good quality of life.

Hip replacement, no doubt, is a big business. Unfortunately, companies sometimes rush an untested product into the marketplace. The consequences of such negligence can be devastating. Hip implant defects have caused significant injuries in patients, or prompted the need for a second, revision surgery that puts the patient at risk.

Recently, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. announced a recall of two hip implant devices, which has given rise to product liability lawsuits. The devices, recalled in August 2010, caused some patients to experience problems, including:

  • Loosening of the implant
  • Bone fractures around the device
  • Dislocation of the implant’s ball and socket in some cases

Some patients had to under another hip replacement surgery. The defective hip implant device also can produce metal shavings that can irritate the area around the implant or get into the blood stream. It’s possible that the metal shavings may lead to heart failure or dementia in some patients.

If you received a hip implant since 2003, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor for an evaluation. DePuy’s products were introduced in 2003 and 2004. The company’s defective hip implant products are the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System.

Another hip replacement device that was subject to a recent recall is the Zimmer Durom Cup, a hip component that is inserted into people undergoing total hip replacement surgery. The Zimmer Cup (technically the Zimmer Durom Acetabular Component) was recalled in 2008 because some patients required additional surgery after the unit failed to properly bond.

If you have experienced any pain or side effects related to a hip implant defect, we recommend contacting an experienced attorney. You may be entitled to compensation.

Some patients who have been implanted with DePuy may be contacted by a company representative. It’s crucial that you discuss your specific case with an attorney before accepting any compensation. You may be entitled to additional compensation for your losses.

The Houston lawyers at Smith & Hassler know how to fight for the rights of hip implant defect victims. Our lawyers have years of experience and many resources to help you pursue a successful claim. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-877-777-1529. We are committed to helping clients get the results they need – and deserve.

Fatal car wreck results from driver’s wrong turn on I-10

January 29, 2011: A driver heading the wrong way on I-10 in Houston was killed early Saturday he took a wrong turn and crashed into with another vehicle on an I-10 exit ramp. Police say a red-colored Chevrolet pickup truck was traveling the wrong way on the I-10 exit ramp for U.S. 90 around 1:30AM when the pickup collided with a white-colored Chevrolet Equinox SUV. The pickup truck caught fire, killing the driver. The SUV driver sustained serious leg injuries and was transported to hospital.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, call Smith & Hassler at 1-800-WIN-WIN1 or 713 739 1250 and ask for a free consultation with our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys. We’d be glad to give you an analysis of your potential claims and discuss the insurance claims process with you.

Houston woman dies in tragic car accident, hit while in garage

January 30, 2011: A southeast Houston woman has died after her husband accidentally drove into her as she stood in their garage on Saturday afternoon. The couple was in their 60’s and had been married for over 30-years. They were pulling into their driveway around 3:30PM when they opened their door and their dog got out, according to Houston Police Department sergenant J.K. Richard with the vehicular crimes division. The woman got out of the couple’s Infiniti SUV and corraled the dog back into the garage as her husband pulled in.  The husband’s foot slipped on pedals and he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake, causing the vehicle to surge forward and pin the woman between a refrigerator and the SUV, before continuing on and crashing through the back wall of the garage. Paramedics transported the woman to Memorial Hermann Southeast where she later died. The couple’s house is in the 16400 block of Hickory Knoll Drive in Houston.

Houston police chase ends in car crash

Saturday January 29, 2011: Houston police responded to a call for service at around 4:00AM to the Delmar Apartments in Houston on the Gulf Freeway when someone reported seeing men stealing car license plates. When officers arrived at the scene they asked the men to provide identification, which they agreed to do, but then the men jumped into a pickup truck and fled. Police chased the men for a few miles up the Gulf Freeway: the passenger in the pickup truck bailed out and narrowly missed being hit by a car. He was quickly arrested by police.

The driver kept going and crashed into another car on the freeway. The driver exited at Broadway Street and the chase came to an end when the driver blew out a tire because he either hit a curb or rear-ended another vehicle. The driver claimed a leg injury and he was immediately arrested. The men, whose names have not been released, are facing criminal charges including felony evading.

Ironically the chase appears to have come to an end right outside a Progressive Insurance office:

Houston police chase ends with crashed pickup truck, injuries

HPD chase on the Gulf Freeway ends with car accident and injuries

Two police officers injured in car accident on way to a call

Thursday January 27, 2011: Two City of Houston Police Department officers have been injured in a serious collision in northeast Houston.  The collision was at Havers and E. Tidwell.  According to police the two officers were responding to an emergency call when another vehicle turned in front of them. The front end of the police car crashed into the side of the other vehicle. According to reports, both officers were injured and taken to the hospital, one with a broken ankle and the other with bumps and bruises. The driver of the other vehicle was not hurt and was issued a citation for filing to yield the right-of-way to the police car. Unfortunately traffic accidents are the most common method of death and injury to law enforcement personnel, many of whom spend the majority of their working day on the road, patrolling and responding to calls. Unfortunately the officer with the broken ankle will probably miss a lot of work and income while his/her ankle heals: here’s hoping the vehicle the officers collided with carried the proper liability insurance.

HPD police car showing heavy front end damage due to last night's car accident in Northeast Houston

Toyota recall: What does it mean for Texas car and truck owners?

The Toyota Avalon sped through an intersection, crashed through a fence, rammed a tree and landed upside-down in a pond in Southlake, a suburb of Fort Worth. Four people, including the driver, were killed. It was the day after Christmas in 2009.

The horrific accident occurred after Monty and Linda Hardy had taken their vehicle to the dealership several times with complaints about unintended acceleration. The dealership, however, said nothing was wrong, according to their attorney.

“Money can’t bring back my husband,” Linda Hardy told ABC News. “I want Toyota to take care of these problems so no one else will die.”

Toyota defects have been linked to other car accidents and deaths not just in Texas, but in places across the country. Alarmingly, Toyota said it knew about an accelerator problem two months before the fatal accident in Southlake, but did not say anything publicly until a month after the accident.

Toyota recalls about 13 million cars

Since then, Toyota has recalled about 13 million of its vehicles because of possible defects, including sticky gas pedals in some models and floor mats trapping the accelerator in other models. Both of these defects are linked to cars racing out of control.

In the latest setback for the car manufacture, in January 2011 Toyota announced a recall of 1.7 million vehicles to address problems related to defective fuel pumps and fuel lines.

In December 2010, Toyota agreed to pay $32.4 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) because the car company delayed reporting safety defects in its vehicles on two separate occasions.

Was your car part of the Toyota recall? Were you or someone you know injured due to a Toyota defect in Houston or elsewhere in Texas? Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney who knows how to help victims of injured due to Houston Toyota defects. Smith & Hassler has experience in handling all types of product liability cases as well as wrongful death lawsuits.

Smith & Hassler can help those affected by Toyota recall

At Smith & Hassler, we can put our knowledge of the Toyota recall to work for you. Our attorneys understand how to apply Texas law to defective product cases, including a Houston Toyota defect. We have resources and expert witnesses who can help you build a strong case. We aggressively stand up to big corporations and their teams of attorneys and demand justice for our clients.

Car accidents happen fast and for a variety of reasons. We understand how devastating a car accident can be – especially when the accident is due to a car maker’s negligence. The attorneys at Smith & Hassler are dedicated to helping victims get the maximum compensation they deserve. Contact Smith & Hassler today for a free and confidential consultation. Tell them you mean business.

SUV crashes in Rosenberg restaurant, two women injured

Wednesday January 26, 2011, Rosenberg, Texas: An SUV crashed into a Wingstop restaurant in Roseberg yesterday, injuring two women inside. The collision was shortly after 4:00PM in the 24600 block of the Southwest Freeway at Plaza Drive. According to police the 23-year old driver was leaving the restaurant when she accidentally hit the gas when she meant to hit the brake. Witnesses said the two injured women were eating when the vehicle crashed through the wall. According to media reports both women were taken to hospital with minor injuries, but nobody was seriously hurt. Police have indicated the driver was not charged with any crime. The SUV involved was a light-colored Jeep Cherokee: the Jeep was towed from the scene with front end damage. Hopefully the Jeep has the liability insurance required by Texas State law to cover the injuries and damages of the two women dining in the restaurant.

Damage to the Roseberg Wingstop caused by the SUV

Driver killed when car hit tree in accident on Westheimer in Houston

Wednesday January 26 2011: Guillermo Carillo died in a one-car crash that happened in 20700 block of Westheimer near Fry Road in Houston at around 12:01AM, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. A passenger in Carillo’s car was rushed to hospital, however that person’s injuries and status are unknown at this time. Carillo was apparently driving a 1997 blue-colored Honda Prelude northwest on Westheimer when the car veered into the median and smashed into a tree: the force of the impact was so great the car was snapped in two and Carillo and his passengers were ejected from the vehicle.

5 injured in police chase collision in northeast Houston

Five people were hurt in Houston this afternoon in a collision involving a truck that was being chased by police. The specific injuries of the five (which included a baby girl) are not currently available, however police have said none of the injuries was life threatening. The collision happened at around 2:00pm at Quitman and the Eastex feeder road. The vehicles involved in the crash were a beige truck and a station wagon/SUV.

The police chase began when an off-duty officer saw two men pull up outside Top Dollar Pawn on East Little York. The off-duty officer considered the men to be suspicious when they didn’t get out of their truck. The officer followed the truck when it left the parking lot of the pawn shop and determined the truck was stolen and the men went to the pawn shop to pawn tools they were carrying that were probably stolen also. When HPD units caught up to the officer and the truck, the activated lights and sirens and the chase was on. The truck ran a red light when it exited Quitman, colliding with a Chevrolet HHR that was headed westbound on Quitman. Emergency responders took two women and a baby from the HHR; they were taken to Memorial Hermann hospital. The fleeing thieves were taken to Ben Taub.

Unfortunately the injured occupants of the Chevy HHR will probably find themselves making an uninsured motorist claim on their own auto insurance policy (if they have that coverage) or will have to pay their own medical bills. Because the truck the thieves were driving was stolen, they were not what is termed “permissive users” of the vehicle, which in turn means the insurer of that vehicle will likely not provide coverage for the damage done by the thieves in the collision. If you have been injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist, call the attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.