NCAA Leader Testifies Before Senate Committee

Jeffrey Raizner

On the 10th of July, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on college athletics. The goal was to gain insight about recent problems with the NCAA with the hope of getting some resolution. Unfortunately, none of the sides could seem to make any headway.

The main witness in the hearing was NCAA President Mark Emmert. He did pledge to support some changes during the hearing, such as offering players “scholarships for life” and changing their position in a controversial concussion lawsuit. Emmert backed away from the legal position that NCAA has “no legal duty” to student athletes, and he recognized that NCAA’s attorneys had misstated NCAA’s position that it does indeed have responsibilities to student athletes. But the senators has plenty of other questions for Mr. Emmert that didn’t have easy answers.

At least three senators questioned Mr. Emmert on how the NCAA handles sexual harassment in its programs. According to a report commissioned by Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), more than 20% of schools give the athletics department oversight in these cases when they involve athletes.

The committee chairman, Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) also gave notice to Mr. Emmert that, assuming Democrats continue to run the agenda of the committee, “…we want to make this a continuing subject of this oversight committee. We have oversight of sports. All sports. We have the ability to subpoena. We have a special investigative unit. We are very into this subject. This is part of a process here.” He also made remarks that university presidents might also be subpoenaed in future hearings.

The committee also strong questions about topics ranging from parent stipends so they can attend games to whether the role of the NCAA President is even necessary. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a former Stanford football player, emphasized that problems with adequately compensating student athletes have been endemic in the NCAA even back when he was playing 20 years ago.

In the end, the

Police Officer Joins Firefighters In RICO Suit Against York Risk Services

Jeffrey Raizner

A Phoenix police detective has joined 10 firefighters in a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit against York Risk Services (“York”). The lawsuit asserts that these first responders’ workers compensation claims were denied though a scheme York designed to withhold and/or wrongfully deprive these first responders of their worker’s compensation benefits.

This newly added client was transporting evidence in her police car when she was struck in a side collision by another motor vehicle. She immediately experienced debilitating pains throughout her lower back, but bypassed the emergency room to ensure the safe passage of evidence and protect the chain of custody. Our client timely reported her injury and initially received a fusion surgery of her L5-SI in June of 2010.

Though a treating physician took her off work and found additional back fusion surgery was needed, an adjuster for York ignored these medical findings, and closed her claim for benefits. York then falsely alleged that our client was released to work. This denial was a fraudulent communication as the worker’s comp providers knew our client was not capable of working.

York’s own Independent Medical Examiner (IME) along with the The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) later confirmed the need for surgery and even found the injury was related to an industrial accident. Unfortunately, even after the ICA’s found in favor of our client, there was still a refusal to pay benefits owed. York instead created pretextual excuses which were once again rejected by the Commission. The denials became cyclical. In all, our client received at least three ICA awards and has fought tooth and nail against York for surgery and benefits. Ultimately, benefits were paid, but the delays in paying for these clear medical needs were unjustifiable.

The postponed surgeries caused her permanent disfigurement, even forcing her into early retirement. Our client nearly lost her home to foreclosure as a result of the failure to pay the necessary

KBR Demands Rights to Sue U.S. For More Money Following No Bid Contracting

Jeffrey Raizner

Kellog Brown & Root (“KRB”) has requested that the Supreme Court review the Federal Circuit’s refusal to rehear KBR’s appeal seeking more than $41 million in unpaid charges for dining services supplied to troops in Iraq. The military contractor has already received $11.8 million in payments for these services pursuant to its no-bid contract; and KBR claims it is entitled to more from the US taxpayers.

KBR’s contract with the U.S. government was signed and initiated before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The agreement required KBR to provide operational and dining services for 50,000 troops upon short notice. However, as the Army’s efforts grew and intensified, the demand did also, requiring support of 200,000 troops across 56 sites, according to the company.

KBR claims that in response to the frenetic pace of the contractual requirements, the company hired subcontractors without obtaining approval through their internal mechanism for approving subcontracts (meaning no bidding processed was used). The federal judge faulted KBR negotiators for not obtaining competitive prices before awarding its subcontracts.

The agreement in dispute is a cost-reimbursement contract, which runs the risk of providing government contractors a blank check, paid for by the American taxpayers. These agreements allow contractors to rack up costs as long as the expense is one that could be considered “un-expected,” covering things such as research and development, national security work, and even food it seems, as in this situation.

KBR suggests that since its efforts to feed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops at short notice were “unprecedented” then this risk should be the responsibility of the government.

In 2012, the Federal Circuit determined the government has “considerable flexibility” in rejecting a large portion costs claimed due to an auditor’s finding that the project was unreasonably expensive.

KBR claims this “dubious calculation standard” allows the government to pay only dimes on each dollar spent. However, and according to the government, the US must be permitted

A Broken Family’s Fight Against Ace American Insurance

Jeffrey Raizner

The Texas Tribune has published an article highlighting a window’s struggle against Ace American Insurance Company (“ACE”) for worker’s compensation benefits following her husband’s death. Crystal Davis’ fight for her family’s future began amidst tragedy. While heading to the grocery store she received the message every mother or wife dreads, “Can you come home, something has happened.” Her husband, Wayne Davis, had died after a distracted driver crossed into his lane and crashed into hitting him, head on.

Wayne, a corporate employee of Burger King, was traveling for the company at the time, causing the state to correctly consider his death a workplace fatality. Wayne regularly traveled to help franchisees raise their level of performance and align with company standards. Crystal remained at home, taking care of their children, aged 1 and 5. The couple discussed insurance coverage and retirement savings often, and assumed they were covered for situations such as this.

The article reveals that ACE’s actions added insult to the already heartbreaking injuries this family endured. Crystal, facing a $9,000 dollar funeral bill and her children’s first Christmas without their father, was relieved when she first discovered that all workers’ compensation policies must include burial expenses and partial replacement income. But after filing a worker’s comp claim, she waited, and waited..

Horrible news arrived as Burgers King’s insurer, ACE, sent a letter denying her claim.

The pretextual excuse provided was that her husband wasn’t in the “course and scope of employment” at the time of  the collision. Though Wayne’s job included a company car, home office, and said in its description that he would travel about 90 percent of the time, ACE still tried to avoid coverage.

Crystal couldn’t believe that an insurance provider was doing everything possible to avoid keeping its promises. Sadly, this situation has become commonplace ever since the Texas Supreme Court granted immunity to workers’ compensation insurers facing bad faith claims in the Ruttiger

Judge Rejects Yellow Jacket Drilling’s Motion For Summary Judgment Following Its Retaliatory Discharge of An Injured Employee

Jeffrey Raizner

An Arizona court recently denied Yellow Jacket Drilling Services, LLC (“Yellow Jacket”s), motion for summary judgment after the drilling company was sued for wrongful termination by the employment lawyers of Doyle Raizner LLP, on behalf of plaintiff injured while at work.

In May of 2011, plaintiff was hired by Yellow Jacket as a Driller Helper. In November of the same year, while working on-site in the desert of New Mexico, our client experienced immobilizing pain in his back while using a 24-inch wrench to free a seized roller. His fellow crew and manager witnessed this traumatic occurrence. The following day, Yellow Jacket’s operations manager took our client to a company doctor who misdiagnosed his injury by concluding it was just a back sprain. The company physician then proscribed light duty, rest, and over-the-counter pain medications.

Retaliatory employment actions unfortunately may follow a job related injury, or the filing, instituting, or pursuance of workers’ compensation benefits. It is at these times that  some employers seem to forget there must be a good cause for employee terminations, based on company policies.

A week after seeing the company doctor, and due to there being no relief in the amount of physical suffering, our client sought an examination from a private physician who found severe damage to several spinal disks. After noting the need of surgery, the doctor provided an off-work slip which detailed our clients need remain home for a period of time.  Yellow Jacket’s wrongful conduct started even before the inception of the injury claim, and continued thereafter. The company attempted to trick our client into filing the claim under his own insurance rather than proceed through the worker’s compensation process – this was done by Yellow Jacket representatives attempting to coerce our client into lying to his doctors, suggesting he say the injury did not occur at work.

Even after a worker’s comp claim was filed, Yellow Jacket continually assisted and

Jeff Raizner Featured in Newsday Article

Jeffrey Raizner

Doyle Raizner LLP is pleased to announce that we were recently quoted in an article by Newsday, a daily newspaper that serves the New York City area. We were featured in both the print and online version.

For the piece, Jeff Raizner was interviewed about the dangers of having inadequate coverage during hurricane season. The problem that the piece addressed was the problems of people not having enough coverage to repair damaged buildings. Specifically, Mr. Raizner discussed the difference between “actual cash value” policies and “full replacement cost” policies. He had this to say:

“However, some insurers sell lesser “actual cash value” policies that only cover the depreciated cost of the damaged portions… For example, if you have an older roof, you may only receive a fraction of the full cost to replace it.”

If you live in a hurricane zone, be sure to check your policy yearly to ensure that you are covered with enough protection. Hurricanes have been striking more frequently. Don’t be caught unaware with an inadequate policy! Look for one that covers the “full replacement cost” of your property, not just “cash value”.

To read the full article, here is the link: http://www.newsday.com/business/money-fix-check-homeowner-s-coverage-for-hurricane-season-1.8570544

 

 

The Abuse of Undocumented Workers in Texas

Jeffrey Raizner

A recent article in Texas Monthly’s “Hurting for Work” series highlights  how some employers take advantage of undocumented workers. The process involves unskilled laborers without valid work permits being constantly maimed or killed while engaging in dangerous construction jobs. The overseeing contractors may have a history of workplace accidents and even be working under various company names. However, because Texas does not require  employers to provide worker’s compensation insurance, these workers are discarded and forgotten once hurt.

This installment of the Texas Monthly series centers on Santiago Arias, a worker well aware of the dangers involved in construction. Eleven months prior, he lost his left eye while engaged in demolition work for the same contractor. Santiago’s reason for continuing was to obtain funds needed to finish a convenience store he was building for his family, in Mexico.

Atop a warehouse, Santiago was engaged in the process of demolishing its roof, while standing on it. “Hazardous” is an understatement here, not a single worker was wearing harnesses, lanyards, or any other fall protection equipment.  As pieces were dislodged, he would reach to catch them, but upon losing his footing, he slipped and fell 20 feet.

Santiago remained unconscious for a week following the accident and endured injuries that ran up $841,000 dollars in medical bills. He will never be able to walk again due to  harm to his spine.

Taxpayers and charities end up paying for most of a worker’s medical care  because Texas doesn’t require employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance. The workers and their families see their income and quality of life fall apart. However, the construction companies continue to flourish without a hitch, hiring more eagerly waiting undocumented immigrants that do not mind replacing the injured.

In Santiago’s negligence suit against the contractor, an expert described that the worksite environment at the time of the fall was the worst he’d seen in close to 50 years engineering experience.

Patrick Dennis Selected as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers

Jeffrey Raizner

Doyle Raizner LLP is pleased to announce that firm partner Patrick M. Dennis has been selected as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers again this year. This is a special classification of Super Lawyer that is open only for lawyers who are 40 years old or younger, or have been in practice for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5% of the lawyers in a state are selected for this special category.

Patrick received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law, where he graduated with Honors. He then practiced litigation at Vinson & Elkins in Houston for three years before joining Doyle Raizner LLP in 2007. Patrick was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2004 and the Arizona Bar in 2012.

Patrick’s trial experience includes successfully serving as first chair trial attorney of Jones Act/Maritime litigation, successfully serving as first chair trial attorney in catastrophic personal trials, and participating in a multi-week trial against a government contractor leading to a highly favorable verdict for the client, among many other trials.

We’re proud to have Patrick as a member of our team, and congratulate him on his achievement. To learn more about Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, visit www.superlawyers.com.

 

Mike Doyle Appointed Board Member for the American Association for Justice National College of Advocacy

Jeffrey Raizner

Doyle Raizner LLP is pleased to announce that  founding partner Mike Doyle has been appointed to the Board of Trustees for the American Association for Justice (AAJ) National College of Advocacy.  The National College of Advocacy Board manages all the educational programs and skills colleges of AAJ, the premier national organization for trial lawyers.

As a trial lawyer  committed to excellence in trial advocacy, this role allows Mike Doyle to assist in promoting a fair and effective justice system and to work to ensure that any person injured by the misconduct of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.  Mike has consistently worked to share his knowledge and expertise with his fellow trial lawyers, and this appointment will allow him to help shape the development of AAJ’s programs.

AAJ is the only nationally accredited Continuing Legal Education (CLE) provider tailored to plaintiff  trial attorneys, and its educational programming is widely recognized as among the best available to lawyers looking to build their critical trial skills.

In November of 2012, Mike tried a landmark case against KRB, the largest U.S. military contractor, on behalf of twelve U.S. soldiers exposed to toxic hexavalent chromium at a KBR company worksite in Iraq, in 2003. KBR was ordered to pay $85 million in non-economic and punitive damages. Mike Doyle was also recognized for achieving the largest Texas maritime verdict in 2013. This recognition followed a unanimous verdict awarding $9,677,068 against Diamond Offshore Services on behalf of a rig mechanic seriously injured on Diamond’s drilling rig offshore Egypt.

With great pleasure we congratulate Mike Doyle on his appointment to the National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees within the AAJ.  This association of trial lawyers is dynamic community of practitioners that continue to enhance and protect the civil justice system, a mission embodied in the life of every dedicated trial lawyer.

More on the American Association for

Senators Approach the Department of Defense Requesting Action Concerning Pending Litigation Against KBR

Jeffrey Raizner

In November of 2012, a jury found Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) guilty of negligence after poisoning twelve U.S. soldiers represented by Doyle Raizner LLP, and ordered the defense contractor pay $85 million in damages. Jurors found that  KBR knew both of the presence and toxicity of sodium dichromate at the soldier’s work site in Iraq. In all, more than 800 U.S. servicemen provided security for KBR contractors and were all exposed to chemicals like hexavalent chromium, causing significant health issues in the years since. Even more service members were exposed to harmful health effects due to living and working near toxic burn pits operated by KBR.

KBR has since claimed that its contract with the U.S. to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure after the 2003 invasion includes an indemnity agreement protecting the company from legal liability. KBR claims that under the agreement,  the federal government must pay the company’s legal expenses, plus the verdict won by twelve soldiers.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Joseph Manchin III, and Jeffrey Markley, in a letter to the Honorable Chuck Hagel – our nation’s Secretary of Defense – called for the Department of Defense (DoD) to exercise its right under the contract and move towards an equitable solution. The Senators note that according to the contract, the DoD agreed to assume unlimited financial liability for any misconduct by the military defense company.

The letter provides that time is of the essence as the health of the veterans continues to deteriorate. Further, the DoD bringing this matter to a close would assure the American people that the department is not unnecessarily exacerbating an already time consuming process, as litigation is both expensive and seemingly endless. KBR’s lawyers have spent millions upon millions of dollars defending the claims, charging fees of up to $700 per hour, traveling the world first class, and dining in the finest of restaurants, and they are seeking reimbursement from the taxpayers for

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