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  December 12, 2014

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The Brief for Dec 12

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Compilation of Texas news by the Texas Tribune.
John Reynolds, Texas Tribune 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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SMU Violated Law in Sex assault Cases

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A federal investigation — spurred by complaints from a freshman, a law student and a professor — found that SMU failed to promptly and fairly address reports of sexual violence, harassment and retaliation. The U.S. Department of Education announced an agreement Thursday with SMU that requires the school to obey Title IX, a federal civil rights law that bans sex discrimination in education. Schools that violate Title IX could lose vital federal funding, including student financial aid and research grants. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened the investigation after the law student complained about how SMU handled her report of a professor’s harassing behavior. Two other people filed complaints in 2013. Investigators ultimately reviewed 50 reports made to SMU by students over three school years. The reports allege sexual assault or harassment by other students or faculty.
MELISSA REPKOAND HOLLY K. HACKER, The Dallas Morning News 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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‘Pervasive Fear’ Haunted SMU Student Who Filed Sexual Assault Complaint

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A freshman became the center of campus gossip after he told SMU police that a fraternity member forced him to give oral sex in a parking garage. For the next month, the student told The Dallas Morning News, his peers and roommate mocked him, fraternity members terrified him and university officials dismissed his pleas. He finally dropped out of school. In a letter released Thursday, federal investigators faulted SMU for subjecting the student to a “sexually hostile environment” after the 2012 incident, among other Title IX violations. For the former student, that term doesn’t begin to describe the dining-hall jeers, strange knocks outside his dorm room and “pervasive fear” of life on campus.
AVI SELK, The Dallas Morning News 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Senate Testimony Confirms Equipment Failures and Lax Safety in DuPont Accident

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Failures in equipment design and lax safety contributed to the deaths of four workers at the DuPont plant in La Porte. Workers routinely drained potentially dangerous, volatile liquids into an enclosed building where ventilation fans weren't working and employees weren't required to wear the proper respirators, U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso told a Senate committee.
Mark Collette and Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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State Fails to Report Hundreds of Abuse Cases to Law Enforcement

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When a report of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation in a nursing home or assisted living facility comes in to the Department of Aging and Disability Services, no matter who reports it, state law requires DADS to notify law enforcement within 24-hours so a criminal investigation can begin immediately. But A KXAN investigation into a family’s allegation its elderly mother was sexually assaulted at an Austin’s Longhorn Village assisted living facility has uncovered more failures in the state system that’s supposed to protect elderly and disabled. The investigation revealed the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services broke the law by not reporting the Longhorn Village case to law enforcement. As a result, the state launched an internal review that now reveals DADS investigators failed to follow the law in hundreds of other elder abuse cases.
Brian Collister, KXAN Austin News 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Lawsuit Alleges Prominent Houston Doctor Traded Prescriptions for Sex

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The chief of academic surgery at St. Joseph Medical Center is being accused of trading prescription drugs for sex in a new lawsuit. The suit, which seeks monetary relief of over $100,000, was filed Thursday in Harris County on behalf of two anonymous clients. Video provided to Local 2 investigates shows Dr. Thomas V. Taylor having sex with two patients inside what appears to be an exam room in his office on St. Joseph Parkway.
Lauren Sweeney, KPRC TV Houston 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Bard Judge Says Implant Maker Facing Billions in Verdicts

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A federal judge took the unusual step of urging C.R. Bard Inc. to settle thousands of lawsuits over defective vaginal-mesh implants because juries may award billions of dollars in damages. “I can’t imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of dollars in verdicts wouldn’t find it advisable to try to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia, said at a Dec. 9 hearing. Goodwin is taking the almost unprecedented step of warning executives at Bard that they are gambling with the future of their company by not resolving the litigation, said Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Goodman’s comments may pressure Murray Hill, New Jersey-based Bard to pick up the pace of settlement talks with women who contend the implants damaged their organs and left them in constant pain. The judge is overseeing all federal-court litigation involving the implants.
Jef Feeley , Bloomberg 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Virginia Joins Whistle-Blower Suit Against Guardrail Firm

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Virginia joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against Trinity Industries over an allegedly defective guardrail system, becoming the first state to say it will seek to claw back money spent on the company’s roadside safety hardware. Trinity sold the state thousands of unapproved and potentially dangerous pieces of highway guardrail equipment, according to the complaint unsealed in state court in Richmond. The suit is at least the fourth whistle-blower complaint against Trinity following a series of accidents across the U.S. in which drivers or their families have alleged that the company’s products didn’t work properly. Virginia is among at least 42 states -- and the District of Columbia -- that have stopped installing Trinity’s ET-Plus guardrail end terminals.
Andrew Zajac and Patrick G. Lee, Bloomberg 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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Guardrail Tests Begin in Texas After Lawsuit

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The first tests were conducted this week on "potentially dangerous" guardrail systems in Texas, which were the subject of a federal lawsuit earlier this year. In October, a federal jury ruled Trinity Industries of Dallas, the company that manufactures the guardrails, hid information about their safety. The final judgement in the case could be over $525 million. The tests which began on Wednesday in San Antonio are the first of 8 tests to be conducted by Southwest Research Institute, an independent crash test laboratory.
Jessica Willey, KTRK-TV 12/10/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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FDA Warns Pfizer's Antipsychotic Could cause Fatal Skin Reaction

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Pfizer Inc's antipsychotic Geodon and generic versions of the drug can trigger a potentially fatal skin reaction, the FDA warned on Thursday. A new warning has been added to the drug's label to describe the condition - known as Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS) - which may start as a rash and spread all over. Patients on the drug who have a fever with a rash and/or swollen lymph glands should seek urgent care, the regulator said, advising doctors to halt treatment if they suspect DRESS.
Reuters, Yahoo News 12/12/2014   Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn Icon

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