A Brady Disclosure was released for all criminal cases involving Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigators Lonnie Blevins and Dustin Deutsch.
The Brady Rule is named for Brady v Maryland, a case involving evidence withheld by the prosecution in a murder trial. The ruling set precedent that requires prosecutors to disclose “Brady material” or evidence tending to justify or absolve the alleged guilt of a defendant. The “Brady material” pertinent to the Harris County criminal cases is the fact Blevins is now charged with interstate transfer of stolen property having a value of $5,000 or more. Deutsch is under investigation for the same charges. The complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas charges that Blevins removed evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant and transported the stolen property to Chicago where he sold the items.
The District Attorney’s office included a list of cases that Blevins and Deutsch were involved in. All of these cases are in varying stages of the judicial process, however, the cases involving convictions now are in jeopardy of appeals based on this new disclosure. Blevins and Deutsch are perpetually used in civil cases as well. Often, insurance carriers hire Blevins and Deutsch as consultants when claims are being denied.
Deutsch is currently involved in a Doyle Raizner lawsuit based on his recommendation to deny a fire claim filed by a State Farm policyholder. Deutsch claims to have found evidence of arson even though the state fire marshal found no criminal activity and no charges have been filed against an individual in connection.
Doyle Raizner has filed a suit against State Farm alleging conduct by the carrier and its investigators amounting to fraud, breach of good faith and fair dealing and violations of Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and the Texas Insurance Code.
The ill-fated Carnival Cruise ship Triumph has been docked in Mobile, Alabama while investigators piece together the cause of the fire that left the ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard announced Monday afternoon that a leaking fuel-oil return line running from one of the ship’s engines was the cause of the fire but it is not known what caused the leak.
After four days of aimlessly drifting, the ship was towed to a port in Mobile where all passengers were provided travel to New Orleans and Houston. Litigation has already been filed by several passengers relying on maritime law to cover their experience. In addition to claims by passengers, however, the Jones Act is the federal law that governs claims that seamen and cruise ship employees may have for injuries they sustained in the course of their service on the vessel. Many of the workers aboard a vessel such as Triumph are employed to perform the same tasks as hotel and restaurant workers on land. These types of industries are often injury prone due to the nature of the work.
The reported conditions onboard the ship include health and safety hazards for crewmembers continuing to work in the scope of their employment. Passengers reported slippery walkways, lack of food and potable water and sewage soaked carpets. Carnival has not announced plans for compensation for the crew, nor disclosed what injuries staff members might have suffered.
The Jones Act lawyers at Doyle Raizner LLP have handled a number of claims against the cruise industry for created an unsafe work environment for cruise ship workers.
We reported last week on the inquest into a Harris County District Attorney’s office investigator, Lonnie Blevins. Blevins has been charged with interstate transfer of stolen property. He allegedly stole property from a disbarred lawyer, who in turn was facing charges that he stole from his employer. A federal investigation into missing items from the lawyer’s home and storage units led investigators to Blevins. A second investigator has been suspended as well.
Blevins is co-owner of GulfTex Services LLC; the other principal is Dustin Deutsch, also an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Deutsch is involved in a Doyle Raizner lawsuit. He served as the investigator when our client’s home was destroyed by fire. Although local law enforcement found no arson, Deutsch and GulfTex accused the policyholder of arson, and State Farm in turn denied the policyholder’s claim.
It is now known that Deutsch is the ‘second unnamed investigator’ who was initially suspended from Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The Chron released an update to their original story revealing Deutsch resigned his position last Friday as part of the Blevins investigation and indictment. District Attorney Mike Anderson told the Chron his office has halted 89 cases Deutsch was involved in. Anderson also halted 36 cases Blevins worked on. Anderson’s office has called into question a number of criminal investigations conducted by Blevins and Deutsch, including the high profile Jessica Tata case.
In addition to the criminal investigations now being called into question, the inquiry into the conduct of Blevins and Deutsch raises concerns about insurance investigations done by the pair and their firm, GulfTex Services. This group is frequently retained by insurance companies, such as State Farm, to evaluate and investigate insurance claims. Many of these insurance claims may have been tainted and corrupted by these investigators, resulting in improper denials of insurance claims.
We will update our blog with any developments concerning this case and the impact
The Houston Chronicle published a story in their Sunday edition concerning the number of fatalities in the oil and gas industry. The story focused on the trend in Texas that workplace deaths are decreasing in all industries but the oilfield. Statistics show from 2007-2011 there were 197 workplace fatalities reported for energy related companies.
The Chronicle article told the story of a rig worker whose death prompted the largest OSHA fine in Texas history against Nabors Well Services and sister company Nabors Drilling USA LLC. These companies have the most recently reported OSHA deaths in Texas. The victim was struck in the head after an incorrectly placed metal attachment fell from a forklift. The driver of the forklift confused the levers and dropped the piece. Six serious violations were found by OSHA inspectors and a fine of $36,725 was levied. The fine was later reduced.
The article cited examples of other oil companies being at fault for fatalities but paying low fines even though a death was involved. Unit Texas was fined $1,625 for the death of a worker in 2007.
Houston-based Express Energy has OSHA violations totaling $5,650 for two of three fatalities. A fatal accident in 2012 is still under review.
Nabors fatal accidents record also includes two electrocution deaths at East Texas drill sites in 2007 and 2010.
In response to these deaths, OSHA has increased the number of proactive inspections at oil exploration and production sites across the states. Nabors’ rigs in Beaumont and Liberty County were proactively inspected and proposed penalties of $152,100 were found. The company is currently contesting the fines.
The number of deaths occurring in the oilfield has prompted a different response from OSHA. They have asked oil and gas employers in Texas and four other states to temporary halt work in a voluntary “stand down” to draw attention to potentially life-threatening risks.
Doyle Raizner has represented many oil and gas
In November 2011, we posted about a new filing against Pan American Life Insurance Company. The suit was filed on behalf of a policyholder who had been denied medical treatment for skin cancer. The medical evidence and the opinions of her doctors supported the claims, yet her insurer wrongfully denied care and treatment.
There have been updates to this case. Tragically, our client passed away in January from cancer. The wrongful denials by Pan American Life Insurance, and resulting lack of medical treatment, ultimately led to her death.
The case has recently been re-filed in Houston after a dismissal in New Orleans due to a venue argument. The policy was purchased by a couple living in Honduras but the parent company is based in New Orleans. All medical treatment and procedures were to be performed in Harris County causing jurisdiction to fall under Texas law.
In the original filing, the plaintiffs were attempting to reverse the wrongful denial in order to pursue medical treatment. In the subsequent filing in Harris County, the damages have shifted as the plaintiff has died as a result of the insurance company’s misconduct.
To add to the issues, and compounding the effect of the insurance company’s misconduct, health care providers whose services were sought by the plaintiff under the pretext Pan American Life Insurance would pay the cost, enlisted the services of Specialized Collections to begin harassing the plaintiffs for the debts owed. A grieving family is now faced with financial ruin, in addition to the tragic loss of a loved one. All of this could have been avoided had Pan American Life simply honored its responsibilities.
Pan American Life Insurance’s actions had dire consequences. Our client sought medical treatment in Houston, one of the best medical cities in the world, with the expectation of being cured. Instead, her insurance company created roadblocks and bars to her treatment, and abandoned her and her family. Doyle
Insurance Investigating Firm GulfTex Services Involved in Doyle Raizner Lawsuit Makes Chron Headlines
The Houston Chronicle’s online version, Chron.com, published a story on February 5, 2013 detailing the theft of items by a Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigator. The investigator, Lonnie Blevins, has been charged with interstate transfer of stolen property.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website, Blevins is a co-owner of GulfTex Services LLC. The other principal is Dustin Deutsch, an investigator currently involved in a lawsuit filed by Doyle Raizner on behalf of a State Farm policyholder. Deutsch was hired by State Farm to assess a $1 million fire claim. The policyholder lost her home, her dog and was displaced to a hotel room with her two small children for many months. 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, GulfTex 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. Doyle Raizner has filed suit against State Farm for fraud, breach of 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 this client in their fight against a corporation failing to fulfill their financial obligation to a client. The investigation into potential criminal activity of GulfTex Services principals raises additional significant questions about insurance industry, including the engaging of biased and potentially dishonest investigators to improperly deny valid claims. State Farm’s failing to act in a reasonable and responsible manner has caused the policyholder financial burden, stress and the inability to rebuild her home.
Doyle Raizner LLP will begin accepting Mirena cases for women who have had surgery to remove the device due to migration or perforation. Mirena is an intrauterine birth control device commonly known as an IUD.
Mirena is designed to be inserted for five years as a long-term birth control method. An ideal candidate is a woman who has had at least one child or does not have plans to have children for at least five years. The danger of the device lies in its dangerous propensity to migrate out of the uterus or attach itself to the uterine wall perforating the tissue. Removal of the device requires surgery and can have irreversible effects.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs have petitioned for multidistrict litigation. Mirena’s makers, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., requested that the cases be consolidated in New Jersey, and this request was denied. The Joint Panel on Multi District Litigation will consider the application for multidistrict litigation in the coming months, and Doyle Raizner LLP supports the efforts to bring efficiency to the litigation through an MDL.
If you feel Mirena IUD caused you or loved one serious health problems, please contact Doyle Raizner to have your case evaluated
Doyle Raizner has filed a Jones Act suit against Houston-based Technip USA, Inc. The company is an offshore seismic company.
The plaintiff’s injuries resulted from a fall while descending a stairwell from the life raft deck to the fast rescue boat deck. The stairwell was poorly maintained and improperly constructed. The plaintiff was employed by Technip at the time of his injuries and was a Jones Act seaman more or less permanently assigned to the vessel of his employer.
Technip was negligent in creating the dangerous conditions that proximately resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The vessel was not reasonably safe and, therefore, unseaworthy. Technip has also denied maintenance and cure payments to the plaintiff. The plaintiff is requesting Technip pay damages in relation to the charges of negligence, unseaworthiness and wrongful denial of maintenance and cure.
The offshore injury attorneys at Doyle Raizner stand behind this client in their fight against a company attempting to shirk its responsibilities to their employee.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Huffington Post reported today that it has acquired the signed indemnity agreement between the United States Army and KBR (at the time known as Kellogg, Brown, and Root).
The Army official that signed the agreement at the insistence of the Houston-based private contractor was a former Enron executive. Thomas E. White was named secretary of the Army in 2001. He signed the agreement on March 19, 2003 after considering “the availability, costs and terms of private insurance to cover these risks, as well as the viability of self-insurance, and have concluded that adequate insurance to cover the unusually hazardous risks is not reasonably available.” His memo concluded that the use of the “indemnification clause in this contract will facilitate the national defense.” There is no indication that KBR disclosed at the time of the contract-add any information or knowledge KBR had about the longstanding, widespread use of hexavalent chromium at Qarmat Ali, or any other specific hazard to the troops and other men on the ground at KBR’s work sites.
White resigned his position as secretary on April 23, 2003 amid questions about his ties to Enron Corp. He sold millions of dollars in stock in 2001 and claimed it was a requirement under government ethics rules. White and his wife were also investigated by the Pentagon’s inspector general for using a military jet for personal travel.
The language of the no-bid, cost-plus with award fee contract relates to the bellwether trial against KBR in Oregon where 12 veterans were awarded more than $85 million in damages stemming from KBR’s knowing exposure of the men to hexavalent chromium at Qarmat Ali. The additional “bailout” agreement, which was demanded by KBR after initially grabbing the multi-billion dollar no-bid, cost-plus award fee contract for Iraqi oilfield reconstruction, purports to shield the company from various liabilities, including financial costs associated with unusually hazardous risks including