Texas Trial Lawyers Association

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  January 29, 2014

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Developing Nursing Home Rules to Frame Your Case


The Ethics of Medicare Secondary Payer: How Present Practices Pose Practical Problems for Plaintiff Practitioners


Dealing with Protective Orders – Another View


New Strategies for Hospital Acquired Infections


From First Consult to Complaint: Basic Tips for Representing a Client With a Sexual Harassment Claim


Social Media: Identifying the Ethical Pitfalls of the Communications Revolution




TTLA Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Seminar | April 3-4 | Royal Sonesta, Houston

In April 2014, something BIG is coming to TTLA! Planning is underway, and the 2nd Annual TTLA Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Seminar will be bigger and better than ever. You won’t want to miss this sell-out seminar with its lineup of in-demand topics, storied speakers and unparalleled insight. Watch your e-mail for more information coming soon and save the date: April 3-4 in Houston. Think BIG. Think TTLA PMD.  





Girl's Therapy Dog Banned From University Housing, Lawsuit Filed

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A lawsuit has been filed against the University of Nebraska at Kearney by a student who was denied permission to keep a therapy dog in her university-owned apartment. The plaintiff was not allowed to keep her miniature pinscher therapy dog in her university apartment to help her cope with depression and anxiety. The lawsuit alleges that the university violated the U.S. Fair Housing Act by not allowing the therapy dog to reside with the plaintiff. The dog was prescribed to the girl by her physician to help her handle anxiety attacks which make it difficult to breathe and sleep.
Wire Report, Houston Chronicle 01/27/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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TX Residents File Nuisance Suit over Wind Turbines

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Residents of Raymondville, Texas have filed a lawsuit alleging that giant wind turbines placed on their properties are a nuisance. The lawsuit accuses the wind turbines of creating noise, devaluing property and posing possible health risks to the residents. Multiple companies were responsible for building hundreds of the nearly 500-feet-tall and 7-ton wind turbines on local residents' properties. In exchange, the residents have received or will receive money and tax breaks totaling over $50 million. The companies requested on Dec. 27 that the lawsuit be moved to federal court and have until next week to answer the lawsuit.
Fernando Del Valle, Brownsville Herald 01/28/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Calif. Man Alleges Abuse by Catholic Church Volunteer

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A 23-year-old man from California has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles alleging that he was sexually abused by a church volunteer for over seven years. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was abused by the volunteer, who had a history of sexual abuse, from the time he was 13 until he was nearly 20 years old. The church volunteer, a licensed marriage and family therapist, became a close friend of the plaintiff's family and even counseled the plaintiff's mother. The lawsuit names the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a former Archbishop, the church and the man who abused the plaintiff as defendants and accuses the Archdiocese of failing to disclose allegations of sexual misconduct.
Rebecca Kimitch, San Gabriel Valley Tribune 01/28/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Justices Allow a Bit of License in Choice of Words During a Possible Air Emergency

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Airlines may not be held liable for minor falsehoods in warning the authorities about potential threats to air security, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The court also issued decisions on whether workers must be paid for time spent changing into protective gear and on enhanced sentences for drug dealers whose products result in death. The court threw out a jury’s award of $1.2 million to a pilot who was removed from a plane, questioned and searched after his employer told the Transportation Security Administration that he had just been fired, was mentally unstable and might be carrying a gun. The court unanimously rejected a suit filed by steelworkers who asked to be paid for the time it took them to put on and take off their work clothes, which included flame-retardant outerwear, gloves, boots, hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs and hoods. The Fair Labor Standards Act excludes time spent “changing clothes†from its pay requirements, and Justice Scalia, writing for the court, considered the meaning of those two words with care.
ADAM LIPTAK, The New York Times 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Seau Family Objects to NFL’s $765M Concussion Deal

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The family of the late NFL star Junior Seau plans to object to the proposed $765 million settlement of player concussion claims because the fund would not pay wrongful death claims to survivors. Although the players’ lawsuits accused the NFL of concealing known concussion risks, there would be no blame assessed as part of the settlement, and no punitive damages for pain and suffering. Other potential critics to the settlement reached by players’ lawyers and the league are also starting to emerge — and the judge overseeing the case has herself expressed doubts the sum is big enough.
Associated Press, The Washington Post 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Law Wrongly Turned $262 Court Victory into $10,747 Defeat, Appeal Argues

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Small-business owner Tracy Brown got the good news first when a Houston jury awarded him $262 from a dissatisfied customer who had stopped payment on a check. The bad news came later, when the judge ordered Brown to pay his opponent’s $7,747 legal bill. Victory became defeat because Brown prevailed on only two of three accusations presented to the jury, triggering an obscure but mandatory “loser pays†provision on the issue he lost. The loser pays law, on the books since 1989, did not apply to his opponent because Brown — like a growing number of Texans — represented himself without help from a lawyer. Texas courts, acknowledging that the legal system is designed to encourage the use of lawyers, do not recognize the hours he spent writing briefs, questioning witnesses and studying in the Harris County Law Library as a legal expense. Brown recently appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, where his bill will grow by $5,000 if he fails again, leaving him on the hook for legal fees that would be 60 times larger than his damages award.
Chuck Lindell, Austin American Statesman 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Two Texas Energy Giants Take Multibillion-dollar Dispute to Jury

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hen does a business relationship become a partnership? That question is at the heart of a multibillion-dollar dispute involving three giant oil and gas companies that’s scheduled to start trial this week in Dallas. Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas contends that Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners broke its commitment to jointly build a pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Houston. Energy Transfer Partners argues that Enterprise and Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, conspired to cut Energy Transfer Partners out of the deal. Enterprise and Enbridge, in court documents, say Energy Transfer Partners’ lawsuit is without merit because there never was an actual partnership or joint venture with Energy Transfer Partners.
Mark Curriden, Texas Lawbook, The Dallas Morning News 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Rio Grande Water Users Fear Groundwater Pumping Project

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A controversial groundwater pumping plan that opponents argue could threaten the lower Rio Grande's already depleted supply is highlighting a conundrum in Texas water law. Texas rivers and springs are considered the property of the state, while water flowing below ground belongs to individual landowners. But many of the state's surface water resources, from Barton Springs to the Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers, are fed in large part by groundwater.
Neena Satija, Texas Tribune 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Antibiotics in Animals Tied to Risk of Human Infection

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A federal analysis of 30 antibiotics used in animal feed found that the majority of them were likely to be contributing to the growing problem of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment in people, according to documents released Monday by a health advocacy group. The analysis, conducted by the FDA was detailed in internal records that the nonprofit group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation.
SABRINA TAVERNISE, The New York Times 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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W.Va. Official: People are Inhaling Formaldehyde


A state official said Wednesday that he "can guarantee" some West Virginians are breathing in a carcinogen while showering after the chemical spill that spurred a water-use ban. The crude MCHM that spilled into the water supply ultimately can break down into formaldehyde, Environmental Quality Board official Scott Simonton told a state legislative panel Wednesday. He added that the breakdown can happen in the shower and that formaldehyde is most toxic when inhaled. He also called respiratory cancer the biggest risk with breathing in the chemical.
JONATHAN MATTISE, Associated Press, AP Wire  01/29/2014  Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn icon

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State Regulators Handed Most – and Biggest – Fines to Dallas-area Hospitals in 2013

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Dallas-area hospitals drew the most fines from Texas state health enforcers last year. The most frequent: Parkland Memorial Hospital. The taxpayer-funded institution paid three of the 12 fines levied statewide, totaling $20,000. Parkland was cited for deficiencies in nursing, patient care assessments, and for failing to pay a previous penalty, among other issues.
Miles Moffeit (blog), The Dallas Morning News 01/29/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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