Texas Trial Lawyers Association

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  January 8, 2014

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eFiling Mandate Deadline

In December 2012, the Texas Supreme Court mandated e-filing in civil matters. The first group of counties (Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, El Paso, Hidalgo and Fort Bend), the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the 14 Courts of Appeal become mandatory January 1, 2014. This means that attorneys will no longer be able to file paper documents at the clerk's counter. E-filing in all other counties will become mandatory on a graduated schedule through July 1, 2016. Click on the headline to learn more.  





Texas Hospital to Review Policies After Cavity Search Lawsuit

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University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas has agreed to review its policies concerning cavity searches in conjunction with a lawsuit filed by a 54-year-old woman who was subjected to a baseless six-hour full-body cavity search for drugs. The woman was reentering the U.S. from Juárez, Mexico when border patrol officers forced her to undergo a full-body cavity search at the hospital. No drugs were found. The hospital has agreed to hire a third party to "conduct a comprehensive review of policies, procedures and practices relating to the provision of care, including properly obtaining consent, to patients brought to UMC by Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies."
Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times 01/07/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Widow Voluntarily Recalls Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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A lawsuit seeking $100 million from a Florida billionaire who caused a helicopter crash which killed a prominent tax attorney has been voluntarily withdrawn. The attorney's widow filed the wrongful death suit in Miami last month, but on Tuesday she withdrew it. The lawsuit alleged that the billionaire, who was flying the helicopter when it crashed in the Bahamas in November 2012, tried to cover up the fact that he was at the controls so that he would not have to pay more than a $2 million insurance payment.
Wire Report, Claims Journal 01/06/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Six Wrongly Convicted Individuals File Lawsuit

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Six individuals who were wrongly convicted of a 1985 slaying of a Beatrice, Neb. woman have filed lawsuits, which have been consolidated into one, accusing officials of fabricating evidence and coercing the plaintiffs to get convictions. The six people spent a combined 77 years in custody before they were exonerated in 2008 due to DNA evidence. The man who was actually committed the crime died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 30. An attorney for one of the plaintiffs says that officials have yet to accept any responsibility in the convictions.
Staff Report, Sioux City Journal 01/07/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Officers Arrested and Jailed Student After Water Purchase

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A University of Virginia student has begun the process of filing a lawsuit against the state after she was arrested and jailed when Alcohol Beverage Control officers "mistook her purchase of cookie dough, ice cream and a pack of bottled water for the illegal procurement of beer." After six officers, who were not in uniform, approached the girl, she became frightened and fled the scene, hitting two of them with her car. Not knowing the men were police officers, the plaintiff called 911 as she left the parking lot and said she would be driving to a police station. The girl was charged with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police.
Staff Report, The Huffington Post 01/07/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Texas Supreme Court Weighs Underground Trespassing Case

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The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a groundwater case that the state’s surging oil and gas industry says could significantly impact production. The dispute pits an injection well operator in Liberty County, Environmental Processing Services, against a nearby rice farm, FPL Farming, whose representatives say wastewater from a well that plunges 8,000 feet below ground has migrated into a saltwater aquifer beneath its land. The farm says the waste has polluted its groundwater, amounting to trespassing for which it should be compensated.
Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune 01/08/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Texas Supreme Court to Consider Online Defamation Case

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In a case that could have far-reaching effects on individual freedom to post online, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments from both sides on Thursday about whether the Texas Constitution allows the court to force a man's former boss to unpublish negative postings about his former employee. The Texas Supreme Court is set to consider whether the Texas Constitution's standards are stricter than the First Amendment and prohibit courts from forcing individuals to remove false statements posted on the internet. The court will also decide whether ordering the removal would be an unconstitutional restraint on speech, or "prior restraint."
Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune 01/08/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Theater Shooting Victims Denied Access to Evidence

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The Colorado Supreme Court has refused to allow some victims of the deadly Aurora theater shooting to obtain copies of evidence from the criminal case to use in a civil suit against the theater owner. The court order was made public Tuesday. It contained no explanation. James Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 attack. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial has been postponed indefinitely while pretrial motions are argued.
Associated Press, Denver Post 01/08/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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BP, Claiming Fraud, Wants to Stop Oil-Spill Payments

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BP is waging an aggressive campaign in the courts and the news media against the settlement it signed two years ago. The company agreed to the settlement under pressure as claims mounted from the oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers, led to the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history and did major economic damage to businesses in the region. When it signed the settlement, BP expected a cost of about $7.8 billion. But it soon became clear that payouts would swell. Now BP is in court arguing that the claims administrator and the judge overseeing the settlement are misinterpreting the terms of the deal. The company is trying to convince a federal appeals court to block payments to companies that can’t prove the spill caused their losses.
Sean Cockerham, McClatchy, Miami Herald 01/08/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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