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January 30, 2012

Fatal Wreck in Oklahoma Prompts Lawsuit

FDA Staffers Sue File Suit Over Surveillance of Personal E-mail

Suit Filed Against Washington Man in Fatal Shooting

Judge: Parker County Not the Place for Couple's Suit Against Range Resources

BP Emails Reveal Knowledge Of Disaster's Potential

Some Doctors Try to Squelch Online Reviews

6 Costa Concordia Passengers Sue in Miami Court

Freddie Mac Betting Against Struggling Homeowners

Discipline Problems Persist at Harris County Jail

OK's Low Liability Cap Leaves Some Holding the Bag

Company Seeks Asbestos Liability Limit in Idaho

Auto Insurance Rates in Texas Climbing

 

 

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Laws/Cases

 

Fatal Wreck in Oklahoma Prompts Lawsuit

An Oklahoma mother has filed a lawsuit over the death of her 15-year-old son in a car crash last year. The boy was riding in the car with his friend, the suit says, who lost control of the vehicle while trying to pass other cars at a very high speed. According to the lawsuit, the car had been equipped with a nitrous oxide kit, which is not legal for use on public roadways. The suit is seeking $1 million in damages from the family of the driver, who also died in the wreck.  Robert Medley, NewsOK.com  01/30/2012

Read Article: NewsOK.com    

 

FDA Staffers Sue File Suit Over Surveillance of Personal E-mail

The FDA secretly monitored the personal e-mail of a group of its own scientists and doctors after they warned Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients, government documents show. The surveillance — detailed in e-mails and memos unearthed by six of the scientists and doctors, who filed a lawsuit against the FDA in U.S. District Court in Washington last week — took place over two years as the plaintiffs accessed their personal Gmail accounts from government computers. Information garnered this way eventually contributed to the harassment or dismissal of all six of the FDA employees, the suit alleges. All had worked in an office responsible for reviewing devices for cancer screening and other purposes.  Ellen Nakashima and Lisa Rein, The Washington Post  01/30/2012

Read Article: The Washington Post    

 

Suit Filed Against Washington Man in Fatal Shooting

Parents of a Washington boy who was shot and killed by a local man in 2010 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the shooter. According to the suit and police reports, the boy and a friend were picking up metal piping on the side of the road outside the man's property. The man allegedly came out of his house with a gun, and the boys got in their car to flee. Believing they were trying to hit him, the man opened fire, killing the boy while he was driving. The suit claims the man shot at the boys repeatedly, even after the truck had passed his property.  Adam Lynn, The News Tribune  01/25/2012

Read Article: The News Tribune    

 

Judge: Parker County Not the Place for Couple's Suit Against Range Resources

A state district judge has ruled that a Parker County couple lacks legal jurisdiction to sue Fort Worth-based Range Resources in a high-profile case involving methane contamination of the couple's water well at their home in the upscale Silverado subdivision in far south Parker County. Judge Trey Loftin, of the 43rd State District Court in Weatherford, said in an order issued late Friday that Steve and Shyla Lipsky do not have legal standing for their pending $6.5 million lawsuit against Range in his court because the Texas Railroad Commission already determined last year that two Range natural gas wells drilled into the Barnett Shale were not responsible for contamination of the Lipskys' private water well. Loftin said the proper venue for challenging a March 22 Railroad Commission order is state district court in Austin. However, the deadline for appealing the commission order passed months ago, Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said Saturday. The commission entered the order after reviewing testimony presented by expert witnesses before commission hearing examiners in January 2011.  Jack Z. Smith, Star Telegram  01/30/2012

Read Article: Star Telegram    

 

BP Emails Reveal Knowledge Of Disaster's Potential

On the day the Deepwater Horizon sank in the Gulf of Mexico, BP officials warned in an internal email conversation that if the well was not protected by the blow-out preventer at the drill site, crude oil could burst into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 3.4 million gallons a day, an amount a million gallons higher than what the U.S. government ultimately estimated spilled daily from the site. The memo, which BP agreed to release Friday as part of federal court proceedings, suggests BP managers recognized the potential of the disaster in its early hours, and the company officials sought to make sure that the model-developed information wasn't shared with those outside the company. The emails also suggest BP was having heated discussions with Coast Guard officials over the potential of the oil spill.  Associated Press, National Public Radio  01/28/2012

Read Article: National Public Radio    

 

Some Doctors Try to Squelch Online Reviews

Fuming about a billing dispute with his dentist, Robert Allen Lee posted his complaints on two consumer review Web sites, triggering a legal battle over a technique designed to snuff out negative online commentary. In late August, a day after Lee posted his comments on Yelp and DoctorBase, he received a letter from the dental practice threatening to sue him for at least $100,000 for “defamation, slander and libel.” The letter reminded him that he’d signed an agreement with his dentist that barred him from publishing a critique of her or her office. While extreme, such do-not-talk contracts underscore the struggle between consumers that are eager to share their thoughts online and companies that are looking for ways to protect their reputations in an environment in which social media helps shape opinions on just about everything.  Dina ElBoghdady, The Washington Post  01/30/2012

Read Article: The Washington Post    

 

6 Costa Concordia Passengers Sue in Miami Court

Six Costa Concordia passengers have filed lawsuits in U.S. federal court in Miami seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The lawsuit filed Friday seeking $460 million in damages names Costa Cruise Lines and its parent company Carnival Corp. Both companies have offices in South Florida.  Associated Press, Miami Herald  01/30/2012

Read Article: Miami Herald    

 

Issues

 

Freddie Mac Betting Against Struggling Homeowners

Freddie Mac, a taxpayer-owned mortgage company, is supposed to make homeownership easier. One thing that makes owning a home more affordable is getting a cheaper mortgage. But Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom. These investments, while legal, raise concerns about a conflict of interest within Freddie Mac.  Chris Arnold, National Public Radio  01/30/2012

Read Article: National Public Radio     ProPublica    

 

Discipline Problems Persist at Harris County Jail

Incidents highlight how the Harris County Jail continues to experience problems similar to those cited in a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice report critical of the use of excessive force against inmates. A Houston Chronicle review of disciplinary records indicates that from 2008 through 2010, more than 200 jail employees were disciplined for various offenses, some serious and others minor. Last year, the Sheriff's Office disciplined 88 employees working in detention, including jailers, deputies and civilians. Their offenses included excessive use of force, having sex with inmates, mistakenly releasing dangerous prisoners including suspected drug dealers, sleeping on the job, and even leaving their post to have a 90-minute-long domino game.  James Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle  01/30/2012

Read Article: Houston Chronicle    

 

OK's Low Liability Cap Leaves Some Holding the Bag

The recent case of Broken Arrow's John Zane has brought scrutiny to the Oklahoma Tort Claims Act. Zane was run over by a Broken Arrow school bus Dec. 16 while waiting at a stoplight on his motorcycle, and he now faces medical costs and wage losses that seem certain to far exceed the state's $125,000 liability limit for most government entities. At least 38 other states have laws that treat people injured or killed by the government more generously than Oklahoma, a Tulsa World review of the 50 state laws found. For some of the other states, comparisons are difficult for a variety of reasons, including that some states cap liability at the amount of insurance carried by the local government.  Wayne Greene, Tulsa World  01/30/2012

Read Article: Tulsa World($)    

 

Company Seeks Asbestos Liability Limit in Idaho

Pennsylvania-based Crown Holdings, whose products include the tops of soda pop and beer containers, has gotten help from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed conservative nonprofit, to broaden limits on asbestos claims against it stemming from an ill-fated acquisition nearly 50 years ago. Together, they've succeeded in winning legislative protections in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Associated Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune  01/30/2012

Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune    

 

Insurance

 

Auto Insurance Rates in Texas Climbing

The high cost of fixing damaged cars and trucks in Texas has pushed up the price of auto insurance in the state to 11th highest in the nation, according to a new study analyzing premiums across the country. The study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows that the price of collision coverage — the portion of an insurance policy that pays to repair damage after an accident — has been climbing in Texas and now ranks as the fifth highest among the states. By contrast, the amount paid for liability coverage — which has been a target for advocates of limiting lawsuits — ranks 20th among the states.  TERRENCE STUTZ , The Dallas Morning News  01/30/2012

Read Article: The Dallas Morning News    


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