Archive for November, 2010
Jury finds AIG insurer and Gallagher Bassett violated Deceptive Trade Practices Act and assesses $1.759 million verdict
After a five day trial and four hour deliberation, on November 22, 2010, a Harris County jury in the 61st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. Judge Al Bennett presiding, found AIG insurer The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and its third-party claims administrator, Gallagher Bassett, committed violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and that Gallagher Bassett committed violations of the Insurance Code in the wrongful delay and denial of on-the-job injury benefits to Sue Ann Stinson. Ms. Stinson, an international flight attendant for Continental Airlines at the time of her injury, was forced to leave her career and is now faced with an serious spinal condition in her neck due to the insurer and its adjusters delay of medical care at the time prescribed by her treating physicians.
In addition to assessing $759,000 in actual damages incurred by Ms. Stinson, the jurors found Gallagher Bassett’s “knowing” violation of the law required $1,000,000 in additional “knowing” violation damages against it.
Ms. Stinson has had a long fight for justice, as her case was initially dismissed in error before the first trial setting in 2007, allegedly for a lack of jurisdiction to proceed with her insurance bad faith case after prevailing before the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (now the Texas Department of Insurance Department of Worker’s Compensation). The Houston Court of Appeals corrected this error, and the Texas Supreme Court rejected the defendants’ attempt to support the wrongful dismissal. Ms. Stinson was finally able to present to a jury the long path of obstacles to her recovery and return to work by the AIG insurer and its adjusters, despite her clearly recognized injury witnessed by several hundred United States Marines en route to the Middle East on a Continental military charter flight. The jurors found that the AIG insurer and its adjusters at Gallagher Bassett acted in an “unconscionable” manner, and that Gallagher Bassett’s knowing violations
By order entered November 17, 2010,KBR/Halliburton was ordered to produce in no more than eleven (11) days a secret “timeline” prepared by their lawyers but used by KBR witnesses in testimony taken in Qatar in September 2010. The Court found that the offensive use of the timeline by KBR’s witnesses to “refresh” their memories of what happened at Qarmat Ali barred the continuing concealment of the evidence. The Court noted that under the Federal Rules, a party should have the right to review and cross-examine witnesses provided such a memory ‘guide”. The Court deferred ruling on whether the witnesses prepared in this way would have to be presented for re-deposition near where they live in Houston, Texas, rather than in Qatar.
Documents now uncovered in the lawsuit by several soldiers against Kellog, Brown and Root (KBR) show that KBR managers were aware of alarming blood and urine test results of site personnel subject to “significant exposure” to sodium dichromate. These documents are in direct contradiction to KBR’s long-held position there was no medical evidence of harm related to soldiers who are suing the company for their exposure to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant in Iraq in 2003.
Minutes of an October 2, 2003 meeting of KBR managers reveal that, in addition to the damaging test results themselves, KBR knew that sodium dichromate had contaminated the soil, was “being spread all over the place,” and was even still in use at the site. The minutes also confirm that KBR was aware that sodium dichromate was present at Qarmat Ali as early as May 2003. KBR had been contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to restore the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant as part of the U.S. goverment’s Iraqi reconstruction efforts.
KBR also knew about the toxic and carcinogenic health effects of sodium dichromate. KBR noted that the chemical was already “presenting a problem” to members of the public, including children, in the surrounding villages and the corporation also expressed concerns about being held liable for the resulting health problems.
Doyle Raizner LLP is currently representing U.S. National Guardsmen and members of the British Royal Air Force in their lawsuits against KBR for exposure to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali.
Minutes from October 2, 2003 meeting of KBR managers show their knowledge of safety hazard being posed by sodium dichromate, concern over human exposure to the chemical, and fear of being held responsible.
Minutes from September 16, 2003 meeting of KBR managers showing alarming medical test results from exposure to sodium dichromate.
Doyle Raizner LLP extends a salute and thank you to veterans.
To those who have served our country bravely and to the many thousands who continue to do so: We are grateful to you for your sacrifice, your service, and your bravery. You put your lives on the line for other people, for principles, and in the pursuit of peace. You are heroes.
We are especially proud to represent many of the National Guardsmen and members of the British Royal Air Force who served in Iraq at Qarmat Ali.
Earlier this year, a series of hailstorms struck Oklahoma, with hail as large as softballs. These devastating hailstorms also brought strong winds–with gusts over 60 miles per hour–and heavy rains. 21 people were treated for injuries caused by the hail. The storms also destroyed cars, knocked down power lines, and caused damage to homes and businesses, especially in the area of Oklahoma City.
Hail causes over $1 billion in property damage in the US each year. It commonly damages roofing, other areas of residential and business property, and cars. If you were affected by these hailstorms and have an insurance claim, you should be sure to make sure it is filed within time.
By order entered November 2, 2010, in federal court in Houston, TexasUnited States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore denied KBR/Halliburton’s motion to enter a “Lone Pine Order”. KBR/Halliburton claimed that the US Army’s initial report completed in 2003 on the soldiers’ exposures at Qarmat Ali, relying primarily on information provided at the time by KBR/Halliburton personnel and post-clean up testing of the site, “proved” that the men onsite were not actually exposed to the tons of toxic chemical blowing in the wind at the site. If granted, KBR/Halliburton’s “Lone Pine Order” would have meant that the veterans should have to undergo a costly and lengthy “Lone Pine” process to document the exact exposures before KBR/Halliburton was required to release the full information in their files about assessments and findings conducted by their engineers at Qarmat Ali starting at least in April 2003 (otherwise known from the most recent testimony of KBR managers as a period of a collective KBR/Halliburton memory “black hole”). Judge Gilmore’s order summarily rejected this latest attempt to delay and block the veterans’ efforts to uncover the truth about Qarmat Ali.