Texas Trial Lawyers Association

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  September 2, 2014

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Texas Tribune Daily Brief


The Brief for Sept. 2

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Compilation of Texas news by the Texas Tribune.
John Reynolds, Texas Tribune 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Barnett Shale: Study Finds More Arsenic in Wells Near Drilling

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North Texas water wells within two miles of active gas drilling sites contain higher concentrations of arsenic and other carcinogens, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. In the study, University of Texas at Arlington biochemists measured 100 wells across the Barnett Shale and compared the results to a similar study undertaken before hydraulic fracturing technology and higher natural gas prices opened the area to drilling. Some 30 percent of the wells within 1.8 miles of gas drilling sites showed an increased amount of arsenic and other heavy metals, the study said, and 29 wells exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum arsenic limits of 10 parts per billion. One of the researchers, UTA biochemist Zacariah Hildenbrand, told The Denton Record-Chronicle that "to find that high of arsenic concentrations was alarming."
Associated Press, Click2Houston 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Crude Rides Texas' Rails with Little Oversight

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In Texas crude oil rides the rails with little oversight. To fulfill the minimum requirements of a federal emergency order, state public safety officials have agreed to receive some information about potentially volatile crude arriving from a subterranean formation in North Dakota. They do not, however, assess the cargo originating in Texas, passing through from other places or moving toward Houston. They do not test its flammability. They do not, in any significant detail, track its quantities, movements or destinations. Now, as federal officials begin testing some wells in South Texas for the same explosive properties found in northern samples, some experts say the state may be taking a serious safety risk by turning a blind eye to the crude churning through its rapidly expanding rail networks.
Michael Brick, Houston Chronicle 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Texas Supreme Court Voids Order to Identify Blogger

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An Ohio company, seeking to sue a sharply critical blogger who wrote under a pseudonym, cannot use the Texas courts to discover the online author’s identity, a divided Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday. The 5-4 decision voided a Harris County district judge’s ruling that ordered Google Inc., which operated the blog’s online home, to disclose the blogger’s name and address so the company would know who to sue for defamation and business disparagement. To order such pre-lawsuit disclosures, however, a Texas court must first establish that the person targeted for a lawsuit has ties to Texas — otherwise state courts lack jurisdiction in the case, said Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, writing for the majority. Justice Debra Lehrmann, writing in dissent, said the ruling will cripple the ability to sue for online defamation, “effectively extinguishing the claims of those who have the misfortune of being defamed by one who conceals his identity.”
Chuck Lindell, Austin American Statesman 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Halliburton Reaches $1.1 Billion Gulf Spill Settlement

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Halliburton said Tuesday it reached a $1.1 billion settlement with plaintiffs who sued the Houston oil field service company in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The latest settlement is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in Louisiana. The settlement funds will be placed in a trust that will pay out over two years after other appeals have been resolved, including BP’s legal fight over its multibillion-dollar 2012 settlement.
Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Smaller Military Hospitals Said to Put Patients at Risk

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Many of the military hospitals are so small and the trickle of patients so thin that it compromises the ability of doctors and nurses to capably diagnose and treat serious illnesses Two-thirds of the hospitals last year served 30 or fewer inpatients a day — less than a third as many as the typical civilian hospital. Nine served 10 or fewer — so few that Dr. Lucian L. Leape, a leading patient-safety expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “I think they should be outlawed.”
SHARON LaFRANIERE and ANDREW W. LEHREN, The New York Times 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Chart: Comparing Military Hospitals

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There are currently 54 military hospitals in the US and overseas that provide inpatient services. Many compare poorly to leading civilian hospitals on measures of safety in maternity care. Of those independently evaluated for surgical care, half posted high rates of complications. Some have been marked by the Pentagon for downsizing
Wilson Andrews and Andrew W. Lehren , The New York Times 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Chart: Military Hospitals Performance in Maternity Care

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Military hospitals perform worse than leading civilian hospitals in most safety categories involving maternity patients.
The New York Times. Source: National Perinatal Information Center. , The New York Times 09/02/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Wrongful Death



Federal Judge Dismisses Mother's Wrongful Death Case

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A federal judge ruled last Thursday that the mother of a boy who was killed by the nephew of the former mayor of Chicago waited too long to file the wrongful death lawsuit over her son's death. The plaintiff's son was killed during a drunken altercation in which the mayor's nephew pushed him down, causing him to sustain a fatal head injury. The judge dismissed the lawsuit last week stating that the statute of limitations began in December 2011 when the mother "asked for a special prosecutor to look into allegations that police and prosecutors had fabricated evidence or otherwise bungled the investigation" in order to protect the mayor's nephew. The wrongful death lawsuit was not filed until March, when the young man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Jason Meisner and Marwa Eltagouri, Chicago Tribune 08/28/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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