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Punitive Damages Available In Martime Injury Cases, Louisiana Supreme Court Holds

By Nov 14, 2017 Posted in Maritime Injuries

On October 18, 2017, the Louisiana Supreme Court held punitive damages are recoverable in personal injury cases brought under general maritime law. Below, our Jones Act attorneys review the Louisiana Supreme Court’s opinion in Warren v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. The Case In 2005, Derek Hebert was killed when he was ejected from a 1998 Champion boat.  At the time, the vessel was operating in the navigable channels of the Calcasieu River in Louisiana. The incident occurred when the vessel’s hydraulic steering system failed.  This caused the boat to turn violently on its axis, kicking to the side.  In the maritime world, this phenomenon is referred to as a “J-hook” or “kill spin.” In this case, the J-hook ejected five passengers.  One of them, Mr. Hebert, was struck 19 times by the vessel’s propeller.  As a result of the incident, Mr. Hebert suffered severe trauma, sunk to the bottom of the lake, and died. The Claim Mr. Hebert’s father and mother brought wrongful death claims against the steering system’s manufacturer, Teleflex.  The mother ultimately settled her claims. After several years of litigation, in 2014, the claims brought by Mr. Hebert’s father were tried to a jury. Mr. Hebert’s father alleged Teleflex failed to warn of inherent dangers in the product, namely that even a very small amount of hydraulic fluid loss could lead to J-hook, ejection, and death. The evidence showed that 3.2 teaspoons of hydraulic fluid could make the difference between normal operation of the Teleflex system, and catastrophe.  The evidence also revealed […]

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Top 6 Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

By Nov 13, 2017 Posted in Articles

  There were 4,836 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2015.  Here are the 6 most dangerous jobs in the United States, according to government data: Structural iron and steel workers (30 deaths per 100,000) Refuse and recyclable material collectors (39 deaths per 100,000) Roofers (40 deaths per 100,000) Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (40 deaths per 100,000) Fishers and fishing workers (55 deaths per 100,000) Logging workers (132 deaths per 100,000) Structural and Steel Workers Iron and steel workers play an important role—they are responsible for erecting those towering buildings that so many people live and work.  Injuries can be prevented when workers use the proper safety equipment, such as goggles, steel-toed boots, hardhats, fall arrest systems, and the like.  However, Structural and steel workers work in a dangerous field and use dangerous equipment that can cause injury and death.  Common life-threatening injuries include: Falls from structures Lacerations and cuts Burns Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors Sanitation workers are exposed to a variety of hazards on the job—the machinery they operate, other motorists, and the negligence of coworkers.  The following are some of the most common accidents that result in injury to refuse and recyclable material collectors: Being struck by a backing truck Being struck by a negligent, inattentive, reckless driver Being struck by garbage or debris launched by the compactor Equipment malfunction Inadequately trained employees Roofers Like the other professions listed here, roofers safety is often overlooked by employers and the precautions that could prevent an […]

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America’s Deep Fried Turkey Accidents

By Nov 9, 2017 Posted in Products Liability

We are approaching Thanksgiving—a time where families gather around large tables, overindulge on turkey and take a nap.  There are more cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year.  According by a story published by The Atlantic more than a third of the fires start in a garage or patio.  Each year, fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires related to deep fryers.  Those fires cause serious burn injuries and more than $15 million in property damage. Many Cooking Fires are Caused by Deep Fryers How is it that many cooking fires are caused by deep fryers?  If you’re asking that question, you must have not had one of the tastiest Thanksgiving delicacies.  Some of you purists out there will spend hours roasting and basting that fowl until its skin reaches a beautiful golden brown color.  However, others of you will thaw that bird and drop it into gallons of piping hot oil in a deep fryer.  The deep fried turkey is a delicious way to cook a turkey.  However, it can be risky—there are numerous hazards that come along with cooking a turkey in a deep fryer.  Truly, even the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has warned against the practice of deep frying turkeys. Avoiding Deep Fryer Injuries Per Fox News, every year, deep fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, and the destruction of 900 homes.  However, if you choose to deep fry your turkey this Thanksgiving, there are a few […]

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$7M settlement awarded to local family after WestWind, CenterPoint found negligent in exploding home

By Nov 3, 2017 Posted in Articles

  Jurors have awarded a local couple millions of dollars after they found that an energy company and a home builder were negligent when they failed to plug and seal a gas valve. Fernando Ramirez and his wife, Minerva Ramirez, were injured in 2015 when a gas leak in their home caused an explosion. They later filed a lawsuit in the 406th District Court against CenterPoint Energy, WestWind Homes and the plumber who installed the valve. On Tuesday, after six days of trial, the jurors found each defendant negligent. Jurors ordered that the couple receive $7 million in compensation. “Because of the defendants’ wrongful conduct, acts and omissions, on Feb. 17, 2015, the home located in the 200 block of Michoacan Loop … exploded and severely injured … Fernando and Minerva Ramirez,” the lawsuit states. The defendants denied the allegations against them. [WestWind’s attorney] said the case will be appealed as his party believes several errors were made in the verdict. Oubre said this is the first case of its kind that WestWind has dealt with. “WestWind has been part of the community for 24 years,” [WestWind’s attorney] said. “They do the best to make sure that homes are safe and we’ve taken steps to make sure that homes are safe. We feel sorry for the family and wish there had been different results.” [CenterPoint Energy’s attorney] was not unavailable for comment Friday. According to Nicholas Morrow, the plaintiffs’ attorney, a gas valve in the home was inadvertently opened, “causing […]

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Media Continues Coverage Of M&S $6.9M Trial Victory Due To Public Safety Issues

By Nov 1, 2017 Posted in Firm News

South TX Jury Slaps $6.9M on CenterPoint, Westwind in Gas Leak Case © 2017 The Texas Lawbook. By Natalie Posgate (Nov. 1) – A Laredo jury last Wednesday awarded nearly $7 million to a local elderly man and his family for a 2015 house gas explosion that left him with severe, lifelong injuries and put him out of work forever as a mechanic. Jurors determined after a two-week trial that Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, the natural gas provider, and Laredo-based Westwind Homes, the homebuilder, were responsible for the accident after failing multiple times to cap and seal a gas valve in the house. The incident occurred in February 2015, when Fernando Ramirez was repairing an electric dryer in the utility room of his daughter and son-in-law’s house. Ramirez and his wife, Minerva, were at the house babysitting their granddaughter while their daughter and son-in-law were out of town. They had asked Mr. Ramirez to take a look at the dryer while he was there. The gas valve was located directly behind the dryer, and gas began to leak after Ramirez, who “didn’t even know the valve was there,” inadvertently knocked it open while attempting to repair the dryer, said John Sheppard, who represented the family at trial. “There was a huge explosion that the neighbors described sounded like a sonic boom,” said Sheppard, founding partner of Morrow & Sheppard in Houston. “It moved the house off its foundation and had to be totally rebuilt.” Many of Ramirez’s injuries, on the other hand, cannot be reversed. Sheppard says […]

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Litigator of the Week: Houston Lawyer Wins $7 Million in Home Gas Explosion Case

By Oct 30, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

  Houston attorney Nick Morrow recently convinced a South Texas jury that both a homebuilder and a utility company were negligent for their part in failing to seal a gas utility valve that eventually caused a Laredo home to explode, injuring his clients. But in winning $7 million in damages from the Laredo jury, Morrow also had them convinced that the problems that caused the explosion in his clients’ case might not be an isolated event. “This is a case that everyone can relate to because a lot of people have these valves in their house,’’ said Morrow, a partner in Houston’s Morrow & Sheppard, of the Oct. 25 verdict in Ramirez v. Westwind Development. “We made a big deal, and rightly so, that this is a big public safety issue.’’ Morrow’s clients, Fernando and Minerva Ramirez, sued Westwind Development and Centerpoint Energy alleging the builder and the gas utility failed to seal a gas valve in the utility closet of their daughter-in-law’s home. In their petition, the couple alleged the explosion happened in 2015 when Fernando moved an electric power cord for an electric dryer in the room. Fernando Ramirez alleged he was knocked over by the explosion and suffered second and third degree burns to his face and arms and that he and his wife both suffered emotion trauma and post-traumatic stress from the incident. At trial, both Westwind and Centerpoint denied negligence and alleged that the plaintiffs were partly responsible for the explosion because the failed to pay attention to the smell and sound of leaking […]

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M&S Wins $7 Million Dollar Verdict for Clients Injured in Home Explosion

By Oct 26, 2017 Posted in Firm News

On October 25, 2017, Morrow & Sheppard won a unanimous jury verdict in a personal injury home explosion case in Webb County, Texas.  The 12-person jury held defendants CenterPoint Energy and Westwind Homes must pay a judgment that, with interest and costs, could exceed $8 million. What Happened  The jury found the home explosion was caused by the failure to plug, seal, and safely configure a gas valve in the utility room.  The laws in most every jurisdiction require all gas valves in homes to be plugged and sealed if they are not connected to an appliance. A properly plugged valve looks like this: The day of the explosion, the valve in the home looked like this: On the day of the explosion, the valve was inadvertently opened, causing a gas leak that was ignited when our client moved the power cord for an electric dryer in the utility room.  If the valve had been plugged and sealed, it would have been impossible for the valve to leak. The jury found CenterPoint liable for failing to ensure the valve was plugged and sealed when it turned on gas to the home.  Westwind Homes was found liable for failing to plug, seal, and safely configure the valve when Westwind built and sold the home. Revelations In discovery, CenterPoint produced a record indicating its technician plugged the valve when the company turned gas on to the home.  Refusing to take the record at face value, M&S unearthed the technician’s electronic “action log” that tracked […]

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Texas Leads the Nation in Construction Site Falls

By Oct 11, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

Everything is bigger in Texas—including the death toll to construction workers.  Construction workers work hard.  They are also placed into life and death situations due to the brisk pace, poor safety conditions, and an unrealistic schedule they must follow.  Often times, meeting deadlines means construction companies need to do things less safely—less by the book.  In 2015, OSHA documented that a construction worker in Texas dies once every three days.  Too often, construction workers are taken from their families due to the deadly working conditions of the Texas construction industry. Despite existing safety standards and regulations in the construction industry, construction workers routinely work among serious work hazards and are at risk of severe falls.  Most accidents are preventable with proper planning, training, and safety equipment.  Despite most construction accidents being completely avoidable, construction workers are still at risk of falling from cranes, grain elevators, and elevated construction sites. The simple fact is that employers are responsible for their employee’s safety.  That means, employers are responsible for ensuring employees are properly trained and given all needed safety equipment.  If an employer falls short of their responsibility and one of their employees is hurt or killed, the employer is negligent. Construction Site Hazards Many construction sites have fall hazards.  The OSHA Training Institute has identified major areas where falls occur: Unprotected roof/floor openings Structural steel and leading edges Improper scaffold construction Unsafe portable ladders Your employer can and should protect you from injury by providing you with fall protection systems (including, […]

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Why Won’t Any Attorney Take My Personal Injury Case?

By Oct 9, 2017 Posted in Personal Injury

Why Won’t Any Attorney Take My Personal Injury Case?  If you have been seriously injured due to the wrongful actions of someone else, the first question you might have on your mind is, “Do I have a case?”  If you’ve tried to hire a lawyer but none want to take your case, you probably don’t understand why.  Many people start to lose hope after a lawyer has already turned down their case however, there are some lawyers who only take cases that meet their specialization which doesn’t mean you don’t have a good case. Before you start to evaluate other firms and options, you should find out why the attorney turned down your personal injury claim.  There are many reasons an attorney might turn down your case such as a conflict of interest, or the amount of time your case requires.  Another reason an attorney could have turned down your case is that it was not a personal injury case.  Perhaps your case requires representation by an attorney who specializes in another area of law and you need to consult with a lawyer who has expertise in that area.  Why Choose Us? We will work hard to get you the maximum recovery in the least amount of time. Morrow & Sheppard gives quality time to each of our clients in need. Our partners have worked on cases involving over $1 billion. We get results and will press your case relentlessly until its settled or tried. We have the experience to […]

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Texas Texting While Driving Ban Effective Today

By Sep 1, 2017 Posted in Car Accidents

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