A Doyle Raizner client has been awarded a unanimous $9.6 million jury verdict against Diamond Offshore Services. The plaintiff was employed by Diamond Offshore on a semi-submersible drilling vessel, OCEAN LEXINGTON, as a drilling worker in January 2008 when he was injured while offshore Egypt.
The plaintiff is a Mississippi resident and was working for the Houston-based Diamond Offshore Services as a mechanical supervisor. He was ordered to unsafely repair a set of elevators, used to lift pipe into the drilling operations, to avoid a shutdown of the drilling operations being conducted for BP. Diamond Offshore’s failure to have sufficient elevator spares onboard, as well as its failure to properly maintain its equipment in a safe and seaworthy manner, created an unnecessary emergency situation and directly led to his career-ending back injury. The jury found that Diamond Offshore’s vessel was unseaworthy and its operational negligence was also responsible for Mr. Williams’ injuries.
Michael Patrick Doyle was lead trial lawyer and said, “Diamond Offshore promises a comprehensive safety program, at least on paper, but the jury’s verdict confirms, in practice, that Diamond Offshore is ready to jettison these critical equipment and operational standards to avoiding jeopardizing any shutdown financial penalties. The jury’s verdict supports the evidence of the company’s willingness to expose its own employees, rig and the environment to potentially disastrous consequences.”
Oral argument is underway in Sergeant Mark McManaway et al. v. KBR Inc., et al before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court will consider KBR’s bid for blanket immunity for acts of misconduct committed during their work in Iraq and that resulted in a toxic contamination to hundreds of United States and British soldiers. Just two weeks before trial was set to begin in federal court in Houston, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore denied KBR’s immunity motions and the issue was appealed. Since then, a bellwether group of twelve soldier’s claims went to trial in federal court in Oregon, and resulted in a judgment of $81 million against KBR. Bloomberg News profiled the case in an article this morning, and identified the issues to be addressed by the Fifth Circuit panel. A recording of the oral argument is expected to be available later today or tomorrow [http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/OralArgumentRecordings.aspx].
Earlier this month the FDA released a warning concerning the link between acetaminophen and rare but serious skin reactions. Acetaminophen is one of the most widely used medicines in the United States. It is a fever and pain reliever included in numerous prescription and nonprescription drugs. The most common brand name is Tylenol.
The two serious, potentially fatal skin reactions linked to acetaminophen are Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Symptoms include a rash, blistering and extensive damage to the skin. Recovery may be long term and involve scarring, blindness and damage to internal organs. The less serious skin reaction linked to acetaminophen is acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), it usually resolves within two weeks of stopping the medication that caused the problem.
The warning was issued after it was discovered 12 deaths from 1969-2012 were categorized as possible cases associated with acetaminophen. During the same time, 67 hospitalizations were reported. The FDA is now requiring all over the counter and prescription drugs containing acetaminophen add a skin reaction warning on the label. Other pain relievers such as Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Midol currently carry warnings about the risk of serious skin reactions.
This new label change comes two years after the FDA required all makers of prescription and non-prescription acetaminophen to lower the dosage and warn of serious liver damage risks. Tylenol has been linked to acute liver failure in users who use the drug for staggered therapeutic levels. It is associated with more than 26,000 hospitalizations a year due to staggered dose overdose. On average, more than 400 deaths each year are attributed to Tylenol poisoning.
Doyle Raizner has filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona against York Risk Services Group on behalf of firefighters employed by the City of Phoenix whose workers’ comp claims were wrongfully denied. York is a third-party administrator of workers compensation and other types of insurance claims management. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in Brown et al. v. Cassens Transport Company that a company may be held accountable under the federal RICO statute for scheming to withhold and/or wrongfully deny workers compensation benefits.
The suit was brought by eight City of Phoenix firefighters injured on the job. The proper paperwork and procedures were followed by the firefighters after each of their on the job injuries. York denied each firefighter’s claim by letter sent through United States Mail, and in each circumstance York refused these first responders medical treatment for on the job injuries sustained helping the residents of Phoenix. Each firefighter appealed York’s denial to the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), the agency that administers state laws relating to workers’ compensation. In each individual appeal, the ICA determined that York wrongfully denied care to the firefighter.
The extent of the injuries each firefighter sustained varies; however, each was harmed financially, medically and emotionally. York’s fraudulent denial and lack of timely payments for the medical care of one firefighter resulted in her untimely death from work related cancer due to chemical exposure. Prior to her death, the financial loss due to York’s lack of payment resulted in her family losing their home. Another firefighter also lost her home due to financial hardship due to York’s denial of supportive care for the on the job injury. York ignored the Industrial Commission of Arizona’s ruling that rejected their denial for coverage, and continued to refuse payment in defiance of the law and administrative orders.
The insurance industry seems to have now reached a new low: seeking school records of the children of a policyholder whose home was destroyed in a catastrophic fire. Doyle Raizner filed a lawsuit against State Farm on behalf of a policyholder whose home burned and the insurer denied the claim. In denying the claim, State Farm employed Gulftex Services LLC and its principals, Lonnie Blevins and Dustin Deutsch. Blevins has been indicted for interstate transfer of stolen property obtained during an insurance claim, while Deutsche remains under investigation by the authorities. Instead of taking responsibility for the actions of these former investigators, in fighting the claim State Farm has now taken a novel approach: State Farm has sought to obtain by subpoena the school records of the policyholder’s two young children, aged four and six at the time of the fire..
The policyholder lost her home, her dog and was displaced to a hotel room with her two small children for many months. State Farm then cut off the young family’s additional living expenses without reasonable basis to do so, presumably to save the company money. Although the state fire marshal found no criminal activity in connection with the fire and no charges have been filed against any individual in connection, the investigative firm GulfTex Services falsely advised State Farm that arson was the cause of the fire. The claim was wrongfully denied based on erroneous information and investigation practices incompatible with accepted industry investigation standards. State Farm’s investigators are currently under FBI investigation.
State Farm did not disclose why they wanted the children’s information and records. Doyle Raizner has filed suit against State Farm for fraud, breach of the duty of good faith & fair dealing and violations of Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and the Texas Insurance Code. Doyle Raizner stands behind their client’s decision to stand up to an insurance company who employed bad faith
Salon.com published a story addressing the dangerous work conditions millions of Americans endure every day. The article states the government documents 4,500 workplace deaths every year at a cost of $250 billion. Texas hosts “the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities”.
West, Texas being the location of a catastrophic explosion is not happenstance. Texas promotes “antipathy toward regulations” and does not require workers compensation insurance be carried by businesses operating within the state. According to the New York Times, Texas has “more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs” as Illinois. The fertilizer plant where the blast originated had not been inspected by OSHA since 1985.
The author of the article, David Sirota, attributes this lack of concern at the number of workers who die every year and the lack of reaction to “a deregulated economy whose laws are written by corporate interests”. He cites those corporate interests as the roadblock for safety regulation and enforcement who uses politicians and their campaigns to ensure they don’t spend additional dollars on making workplaces safer.
NPR released an article recently addressing the large number of worker accidents in Texas and the demographics of the employees. Many are undocumented immigrants and exploited by companies seeking cheap, tax-free labor. This contributes to a corporate environment expecting optimized profits while maintaining low labor costs and the bare minimum safety regulations.
Doyle Raizner has represented clients and their families over the years that have been paralyzed, maimed, and killed as a result of poor workplace conditions. We stand behind them in their fight against corporate entities whose greed converts a workplace death to a cost of doing business.
A 2003 Texas voter campaign for tort reform was publicized, and eventually passed, based on extreme and often inaccurate examples of supposed litigation abuses. Supporters argued doctors were limiting their practices due to liability concerns and practiced “defensive medicine” due to a fear of lawsuits. Exaggerated examples of so-called frivolous lawsuits and huge malpractice payouts were cited as reasons to pass tort reform. The promise tort reform proponents made to Texans was that tort reform would lower healthcare costs due to more doctors willing to treat patients because their lawsuit fears had been reduced. A study published this year proved that not only have health care costs in Texas not been reduced, as promised by the insurance industry, but suggests Medicare payments to doctors in Texas rose one to two percent faster than the rest of the country.
The study includes University of Texas law professor Charles Silver and was paid for by the researchers’ universities. It was published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. Silver also steered another unpublished study that disputes tort reform’s supporters who claimed a mass exodus of Texas doctors before tort reform and a significant increase after.
The study focused on the Medicare spending; it compared doctors in counties with a higher risk of lawsuits against their counterparts in lower risk counties. Silver said, “If tort reform reduces spending, it would have the biggest effect on high-risk counties”. He added these counties tend to be large and urban.
The critics of the study said the 2003 campaign never promised spending would decline. The leader of Texas Alliance for Patient Access, Jon Opelt, said tort reform added nearly 5,000 more physicians in Texas. He also said patients have more access to high-risk specialists and ER doctors are more willing to be on call. Silver’s unpublished study found Texas did slightly worse than other states at attracting doctors post tort reform. Opelt says his group did
Tornados Tear through North Texas; Results in Fatalities, Injuries and Millions of Dollars in Damage
The Texas towns of Granbury, Cleburne, and Ennis experienced a rash of tornadoes last night, leaving six people dead, dozens more injured and hundreds homeless. Granbury was the hardest hit of the communities; at this time all fatalities are reported to be from that community.
The National Weather Service has reported that at least ten tornadoes touched down last night in the area. Hail as large as grapefruit was also reported. The storm stripped homes of siding, trailers were torn apart, and debris was scattered across the towns. A state of local disaster has been declared in Ennis and Granbury. Ennis city officials were expected to perform an aerial assessment later this morning.
We will update information as it becomes available.
Federal Times has reported on the mounting tensions between contractor KBR Inc. and the US Army over an ultimatum to provide a firm, fixed price on remaining work to close out the $38 billion Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III.
LOGCAP III is the 12-year-old logistics contract that has supported US military logistics operations in Iraq. The Army awarded the contract in 2001 and issued 160 tasks for everything from dining services to delivery of housing for civilian and military personnel. The original contract was considered a “cost plus” contract, which means KBR was paid its costs plus a guaranteed profit; the Army seeks to revise the pricing terms on the final work to be done on the contract to be firm, fixed pricing. KBR filed a lawsuit in response seeking to keep the “cost plus” nature of the contract.
The dispute started in July 2012, at that time the Army decided contract closeout activities must be performed on a fixed-price basis meaning KBR would need to provide a fixed dollar figure for the remaining work and absorb any excess costs. KBR responded they were unwilling to accept that due to the lack of scope or duration of work that needs to be completed.
KBR filed a case with the Government Accountability Office that was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds. The case was refiled in the US Court of Federal Claims and accused the Army of using the wrong type of contract, acting in bad faith and violating procurement regulations.
In emails submitted as part of the lawsuit, Army contracting officer Robert Egan told KBR he would not “enter further communication exchanges with” KBR’s contract team until he saw the FFP deliverable. KBR responded they were unwilling to accept such a proposal. KBR responded to Federal Times with a statement noting the company enjoys “frank, open and continuous communications with the Army.”
KBR has been paid enormous amounts for well