The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed KBR’s interlocutory appeal in McManaway, et al, v KBR, Inc.,et al as premature until a determination of controlling law has been made. In the appeal, KBR contended the case should be dismissed as barred under the political question doctrine and preempted by the combatant-activities exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The appeal was dismissed without prejudice. Click here to read the decision.
McManaway, et al, v KBR, Inc.,et al involves dozens of Indiana, West Virginia, South Carolina, and British veterans. The plaintiffs have sued the Houston-based military contractor over health problems they blame on exposure to hexavalent chromium dust, a carcinogenic orange-yellow powder used to fight corrosion in water pipes. The troops were guarding KBR workers as they tried to restore water treatment facilities at the Qarmat Ali water treatment site.
United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore is presiding over the case in the Southern District of Texas. Judge Gilmore denied the immunity defense last year. After denying KBR’s immunity motions, the court permitted the immunity defense decision to go on interlocutory appeal to the Fifth Circuit in September 2012. In November 2012, a decision was made by a jury in Oregon in Bixby, et al, v KBR, Inc., et al, a case involving the same circumstances as McManaway, et al, v KBR, Inc.,et al, determining KBR was negligent and awarded the veterans $85 million. The court later affirmed the jury decision in the amount of $81 million.
At this time, Judge Gilmore will decide on when and how to proceed to trial for the Texas cases. It is anticipated that KBR will ask for reconsideration by the Court of Appeals.
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
NPR released two articles this past week examining the dangers of the Texas construction industry and the too-common practices that often lead to wage theft, poor work conditions and injuries.
Commercial construction and homebuilding are staples of the state’s economy. Years of illegal immigration have driven down wages of construction workers. The economic crash of 2008 brought its own issues besides the decrease in construction. Many workers make far less than minimum wage and often take home $4 or $5 an hour. The workers cheated out of their wages or paid very low wages continue working because of the promise of pay from one week to another. These workers are often classified as independent contractors rather than employees. The classification of independent workers makes them responsible for their state and federal taxes.
The issue of pay is coupled with the dangerous nature of the job. According to the Worker’s Defense Project, there were 10.7 deaths per 100,000 Texas construction workers in 2010. In comparison, California had a rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 construction workers. The study also revealed one in every five Texas construction workers will require hospitalization due to injuries sustained on the job.
Doyle Raizner has represented many clients over the years whose injuries were a result of poor work conditions and an employer’s failure to honor their obligation to safety. The construction industry in a dangerous field in Texas and regulation is the ultimate route to safety.
Doyle Raizner has filed a lawsuit against the maker of Mirena; an intrauterine device (IUD) that provides continuous birth control, on behalf of a woman whose IUD migrated outside the uterus resulting in the surgical removal of her right ovary and fallopian tube.
The plaintiff’s physician implanted the device without difficulty. During the six week follow up appointment, the device was in proper placement. A short time later the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital due to severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. It was found at the hospital the plaintiff had a ligament abscess and infected Fallopian tube. She then underwent surgery to remove the right Fallopian tube, right ovary, the Mirena IUD and appendectomy. Since the plaintiff underwent this surgical removal of the device after uterine perforation, she has had difficulty conceiving a child.
Mirena has been scrutinized for the potential health risks associated with the device and the lack of warning of serious and dangerous side effects. Their overzealous and deceptive marketing tactics have also been subject to warnings from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) concerning their failure to communicate risk information. DDMAC also stated Bayer inadequately communicated Mirena’s indications and overstated the efficacy. DDMAC contacted Bayer in 2009 regarding a consumer-directed program that represented Mirena users would increase the level of intimacy, romance and emotional satisfaction between sexual partners. DDMAC determined these claims to be unsubstantiated and pointed out the package insert states at least 5% of clinical trial patients reported a decreased libido after use.
Bayer intended for their dangerous device to be promoted as safe and effective and as a result physicians began commonly prescribing Mirena even though it was not reasonably suited to the use intended. Bayer failed to exercise due care when advertising and promoting Mirena. Further, Bayer placed its profits above its customers’ safety by downplaying the serious and dangerous side
Doyle Raizner has filed a maritime personal injury lawsuit against Florida Marine on behalf of a contractor who was injured while unloading a barge belonging to the company. The plaintiff was an employee of Accutrans at the time of injury. Accutrans was contracted by Florida Marine.
The plaintiff fell into a hatch while walking the barge. The hatch did not have nonskid coating and resulted in a serious and debilitating injury. The hatch was slippery, unprotected, defective, and unfit for its intended purposes.
Florida Marine is responsible for the safety aboard its vessels and was negligent in ensuring the safety of all of those aboard. The company also exhibited gross negligence by recklessly and dangerously failing to carry out its safety obligations in violation of many US laws.
The plaintiff is asking for past and future medical treatment to be paid along with compensation for loss of earning capacity. Doyle Raizner stands behind their client in the fight against Florida Marine’s negligence and gross negligence.
Doyle Raizner has filed suit against Berry Scaffolding on behalf of a welder required to use scaffolding provided by the company while working on a moored rig. Berry Scaffolding was responsible for the safety of the welder while on the scaffolding. The scaffolding was not erected safely and fell causing the welder serious bodily injuries.
Due to negligence and gross negligence on behalf of Berry Scaffolding, the injured welder has a loss of earning capacity along with medical expenses now and in the future. Berry Scaffolding was remiss in its safety obligations under the general maritime law of the US. This case falls under admiralty jurisdiction of the court due to the incident in question occurring in the navigable waters of the US.
Doyle Raizner stands behind our injured client in pursuing justice for Berry Scaffolding’s gross negligence and misconduct.
On July 20, 2012, Doyle Raizner filed a lawsuit against Spectraseis on behalf of a employee who suffered very serious injuries while working for for the company. The employee was working for Spectraseis, who failed to supply him with proper equipment, causing him permanent and serious injuries, including the loss of several fingers.
On June 6, 2012, Doyle Raizer filed a workers’ compensation insurance bad faith lawsuit against AIG/Chartis (Chartis) and its adjuster. The suit was filed on behalf of an employee who was injured while working on the job in April 2011. Despite medical and factual evidence that conclusively showed the injury suffered on the job by the employee, Chartis denied the claim in its entirety. As a result, the injured employee was left without medical care and income benefits, as were owed to him under the law. The injured employee had to proceed to hearings before the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation, which delayed his medical care and caused additional physical and financial injuries.
Doyle Raizner is proud to represent this injured employee against Chartis and its adjuster for their blatant violations of the law.
Doyle Raizner filed suit against Transocean on behalf of a seaman who was injured while working on a drilling vessel in June 2010. Transocean’s negligence in operating its drilling vessel caused a large piece of metal to come loose and strike him in the head, and resulting in serious and permanent injuries to the seaman. The suit was filed in Harris County, Texas on March 5, 2012.