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Police Departments and Their Officers: Too Much Power?

 WHY POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND THEIR OFFICERS SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE AND RESPONSIBLE WHEN POWER IS ABUSED

We look to our police officers for safety, security and community. We tell our children to “look for a police officer” if they are lost. We donate to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty. We need our police force, and we need good officers to protect and serve us, so we, as a society of reasonable people, grant them powers which are above and beyond the average citizen. We arm them with guns, we train them, we arm them with tasers. We trust them.

But is our trust misplaced?
What happen when officers go rogue, or an officer just doesn’t comply with department policy and hurts someone. What happens when an officer kills someone through negligence, intentional acts, brutality, and departments try and cover it up? Why shouldn’t we hold officers and their departments accountable to the people and families who suffer harms and losses as a result? Are cops above the law?
As we have seen in the media lately in Ferguson, Missouri, Dallas, Texas, Louisiana, New York, Las Vegas, and many other cities we all live and work in, police power can be abused, police officers can be negligent, grossly negligent, defy their training, defy the standards that our communities strive to maintain. These heroes can turn into villains.

Below are some of the worst examples of bad police conduct, bad police procedure, bad police tactics, bad police judgment, and overall abuse of the power that we bestow upon them.

1) Landry Thompson, 13, was visiting Houston, Texas to attend dance classes this month. Her mother had given dance instructor Emmanuel Hurd full guardianship over her during the trip.
But police began questioning Thompson, Hurd and another dance instructor while they were at a gas station. The police later decided to handcuff the dance instructors and trainee. Thompson was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services, but she was released back into the custody of Hurd about 11 hours later.
“I was horrified,” her mother, Destiny Thompson, said. “She was with the people I wanted her to be with. She was with people I trusted. And now she was taken away from those people and in a shelter with people I didn’t know.”

2) Police officers in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan allegedly forced a mentally-challenged black man to sing songs and “dance like a chimp.”
Video of the incident was published in November, leading to the suspension of five officers. The entire department will now receive sensitivity training.
“An officer has stepped forward to take responsibility for the video and for interacting with Mr. Scipio in that fashion. The officer has been removed from patrol duty pending the conclusion of our investigation,” Grosse Pointe Park police spokesman Greg Bowens told the Detroit Free Press.
3) Also in November, a police officer in San Antonio, Texas was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman during a traffic stop. Officer Jackie Len Neal pulled over the teen and said that her car was reported stolen. Even though the victim was able to produce evidence that she had purchased the car, Neal reportedly handcuffed her and placed her behind his police cruiser, where he allegedly raped her.
The woman contacted police and Neal was arrested.
“I am angry. I am outraged. It’s a punch in the eye to the police department, this kind of conduct,” San Antonio police Chief William McManus told a local media outlet.
4) A similar incident allegedly occurred in California. In October, a transgender woman accused an El Monte police officer of raping her.
The victim said she was walking to her friends house when the officer stopped her to ask if she was “a nasty shemale.” The officer allegedly took her to an empty parking lot, groped her and ordered her to have sex with him. The woman’s lawyer said she complied with the officer’s demands out of fear.
5) In both Philadelphia and New York City, police officers were caught berating young African-American men who they had stopped to search.
A 16-minute video uploaded to YouTube in October showed Philadelphia police officer Philip Nace telling two black pedestrians that they “weaken the f*cking country” because they were “freeloaders.” The two men were stopped and searched after saying hello to another pedestrian. Nace was assigned to a disciplinary unit and is under investigation.
Another video uploaded to YouTube in October showed a NYPD officer threatening to arrest a black man for being a “f*cking mutt” during a stop-and-frisk. Another officer added: “Dude, I’m gonna break your f*ckin’ arm, then I’m gonna punch you in the f*ckin’ face.”
6) In June, a woman sued several police and city officials in Lynnwood, Washington after she was accused of lying about being raped.
The woman told police in 2008 that she had been tied up and sexually assaulted by Marc Patrick O’Leary. Though doctors found abrasions on her wrists and vagina, detectives accused the young woman of fabricating the incident. They charged her with filing a false report, but the charge was later dropped.
In 2011, O’Leary was sentenced to more than 300 years in prison for raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth. Federal agents uncovered hundreds of photos of his victims, including the woman accused of filing a false report.

7) The Baton Rouge Advocate revealed in July that a sheriff’s office task force in Louisiana had arrested at least a dozen gay men under the state’s defunct sodomy law.
Louisiana’s criminalization of sex between two people of the same gender was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, but the law remains on the books.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office used the law to set up sting operations targeting gay men. Undercover police officers arrested men who agreed to have private, unpaid sex with them. The sheriff’s office later apologized for the anti-gay sting operations and said it would “consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code.”
8) A South Carolina police chief in November threatened to arrest a person who criticized drug prohibition on Facebook.
In response to an update posted on the Columbia Police Department’s Facebook page, a man complained that authorities appeared to be more concerned with arresting harmless “stoners” than violent criminals.
“Thank you for sharing your views and giving us reasonable suspicion to believe you might be a criminal, we will work on finding you,” the Columbia Police Department said in response. Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago later admitted to posting the reply.
9) Everyone has heard of “driving while black,” but 2013 brought us a new racially-infused crime: standing (or waiting) while black.
Police in Rochester, New York arrested three black teenagers this month as they were waiting for a school bus to pick them up. Their high school basketball coach, Jacob Scott, had arranged for them to be picked up to take them to a scrimmage.
Police said the three teens were blocking “pedestrian traffic while standing on a public sidewalk.” They refused to disperse and attempted to explain to police why they were idling on the sidewalk, only to be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
“These young men were doing nothing wrong, nothing wrong. They did exactly what they were supposed to do and still they get arrested,” Scott remarked.
10) A New Mexico state police officer opened fire on a minivan loaded with children in October.
Officer Elias Montoya had stopped a woman, Oriana Ferrell, for speeding near the town of Taos. The woman attempted avoid the speeding ticket by driving away, but was pulled over by Montoya yet again. But Ferrell again tried to flee after a brief scuffle with the officers. Montoya then fired three shots at the minivan, which was carrying five children. No one was injured.
Montoya was placed on administrative leave and later fired. Ferrell was also arrested and charged with child abuse, fleeing an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia.
11) At least four people accused law enforcement authorities of conducting warrantless and intrusive cavity searches in 2013.
Two women sued Texas officials in July for what they described as “disgusting” cavity searches. Texas state trooper Nathaniel Turner allegedly used a single glove to perform cavity searches on both women after he claimed to smell the scent of marijuana in their car.
In November, a man sued New Mexico officials alleging that he was forced him to undergo several invasive medical procedures in a futile search for drugs. Police forced David Eckert to receive an X-ray of his abdominal area, multiple anal probes, an enema and stool examination, and a colonoscopy under sedation.
Another New Mexico man later said he was subjected to similar medical procedures by the same police department.
Earlier this month, a woman from New Mexico sued Texas and U.S. officials for allegedly subjecting her to “multiple, redundant and increasingly intrusive searches.” The woman said she was subjected to vaginal and anal cavity searches, along with X-ray and CT scans. No drugs were found, but the woman later received a $5,000 bill from the University Medical Center of El Paso.

At Montes Lewis Law, PC, we believe that we play a role in community safety. We are particularly proud of that role. When citizens have been killed, hurt, abused, taken advantage of, or intimidated by those that we are supposed to trust the most, we are here to help. We represent a wide range of people, from blue collar workers, to nurses, teachers, oil field workers, to level the playing field when a loved one is killed or a person is harmed through the negligence, gross negligence, intentional acts or brutality of an officer of the law. Our cases have made permanent safety upgrades for all of us, as we don’t allow the law to get away with abuse of power.

If you or a loved one has been harmed, please call us today. We are here to help. Through that help, you are making sure others in your shoes don’t suffer the same fate.

Montes Lewis Law, PC: Experience. Justice. Results.

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Farmers Insurance leads the industry in consumer complaints | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

By Montes Law Group, LLP on Monday, November 7, 2011

Maybe Farmers needs to send its staff and its lawyers back to Farmers University to learn how to be fair.  A new report is very telling about how Farmers treats its insureds.  Insurance companies are paid huge amounts of money in premiums to protect us.  Insurance giants like Farmers advertise and spend millions, if not bilions, of dollars getting hard working people to buy their product, promising good service, and fair treatment.  In fact, insurance companies like Farmers Insurance have certain duties to their own insureds to treat them fairly, and pay claims that are made by and against policy holders.  A new study has established that Farmers Insurance, the state’s 3rd largest insurer, has received more complaints about its handling of homeowner claims than any other insurer in Texas.

What does this translate to?  Well, Farmers Insurance received 207 complaints from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011, according to Austin-based Texas Watch, which obtained complaint data from state regulators.  How does this compare with other big insurance companies?  State Farm, which has the largest market share in Texas, had 198 complaints, and Allstate, another of the “big 3″ had 159.  Allstate is the second-largest home insurance company in the state.

This data unmistakably measures companies stack up against each other.  Of note, the data do not include complaints about coverage or premium issues, but those dealing with payment delays, underpayments, denials and other matters pertaining to how claims are handled.  This amounts to the basic element of fairness.  A hard working person sends their premium money in to Farmers, Farmers cashes the check, and these people contend Farmers never held up their end of the bargain.

If you have been treated unfairly by Farmers Insurance or any other insurance company, hire a lawyer to fight for what you paid premiums for, fairness and respect.  At the Montes Law Group, we help people.

Rachel E. Montes, named Texas Superlawyer, D Magazine Best Lawyers, graduate of the Trial Lawyers College

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Avandia makers Glaxo Smith Kline expected to pay 3.4 billion to injured and families of deceaseds | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

Avandia makers Glaxo Smith Kline expected to pay 3.4 billion to injured and families of deceaseds

By Rachel E. Montes on Thursday, January 20, 2011

 Avandia makers Glaxo Smith Kline expected to pay 3.4 billion to injured and families of deceaseds | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is expecting to pay $3.4 billion to settle legal charges relating to its diabetes drug Avandia, as well as sales and promotional practices in the US for other products. The amount is in addition the $2.36-billion legal charges previously announced in July 2010 for legal cases regarding Avandia, Paxil, and the company’s former manufacturing site in Cidra, Puerto Rico.

Since July 2010, GSK says it has continued to receive a “substantial” number of new product liability cases regarding Avandia in the US. The $3.4-billion estimate stems from the company’s assessment of the additional cases and an estimate of likely future claims.

“We recognize that this is a significant charge, but we believe the approach we are taking to resolve long-standing legal matters is in the company’s best interests,” P.D. Villarreal, senior vice-president of global litigation at GSK, explained in a statement. “We have closed out a number of major cases over the last year and we remain determined to do all we can to reduce our litigation risk.”

The European Medicines Agency recommended that Avandia-once GSK’s biggest grossing blockbuster-be removed from the EU market in September 2010 because of cardiovascular safety concerns. Around the same time, the US pinned stringent restrictions on the product’s use.

Avandia has been associated in studies with increased risk for dangerous health conditions such as heart attack, heart damage, stroke and other associated conditions. Another danger that may occur in patients taking Avandia® is fluid retention or swelling that may lead to or worsen heart failure. People with a history of heart problems should talk to their doctors before starting an Avandia® prescription in order to prevent dangerous cardiovascular side effects including swelling, tiredness and shortness of breath. Because of this dangerous possibility, Avandia® is not recommended for patients with severe heart conditions.

The liver is also an area of potential danger for Avandia® patients. The drug is not recommended for people with active liver disease. It may cause unexpected tiredness, unusually rapid weight gain, dark, yellow urine, yellowing of skin and stomach problems. These symptoms are often associated with liver disease, which is a possible danger of taking Avandia®.

A lawyer experienced in these cases can answer your questions. Call us today. Avandia Damage Lawyers. www.avandiadamage.com

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WHY DON’T OUR SCHOOL BUSES HAVE SEATBELTS? | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

WHY DON’T OUR SCHOOL BUSES HAVE SEATBELTS?

By Rachel E. Montes on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why is it that our most precious gifts, children, are not as protected as they should be? Tragically, most of the operating school buses in the U.S. do not have seat belts or similar restraints to protect our children in the event of an accident. The kicker is, for buses that are under 10,000 pounds, federal law requires a restraint system, but that’s only a small proportion of the school buses in use, and generally used for transporting disabled and special-needs students. As such, they fall under the purview of cars, light trucks and passenger vehicles because of their similar low weight and center of gravity.

But larger buses, the buses that the majority of our children ride, are much heavier, and higher. As a result, the passengers on the bus sit higher, and this is supposed to be a safeguard in collisions. For those, federal education and transportation agencies leave the decision up to the states. And so far, only six require seat belts to be installed.

School and transportation officials cite two main reasons for declining to install seat belts:

• Cost. Separate studies by the NHTSA show that installing seat belts would add anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 to the cost of a new bus while having little to no impact on safety.

Seat belts would also take up room that’s now used for seats, meaning fewer children can be accommodated on each row. That could require school systems to increase their bus fleets by as much as 15 percent just to transport the same number of pupils, it suggested.

• Safety. Numerous safety agencies say seat belts aren’t the best choice for children, which is why nearly all states

require container-like full car seats for younger kids in passenger cars.

Looking at both sides of the equation, the pros and cons are obvious:

Pros

Education children to buckle up.

Seat belts often prevent litigation.

Using seat belts improves behavior on school buses.

Installation of seat belts in school buses would cost less than $2.00 per child – a small price to pay to prevent serious injury or death.

Seat belts prevent students from being thrown out of their seats if their bus is involved in an accident.

Cons

School buses have an excellent safety record. Therefore seat belts are not a necessary expenditure.

Seat belts are not effective in most school bus crashes.

Though the cost per child to install seat belts in school buses is low, multiply that by thousands of buses and the cost is astronomical.

Seat belts prevent students from exiting the bus quickly if fire or water is involved. A bus driver cannot help all students escape if they are belted and the bus is sinking in a lake or other body of water.

The installation of seat belts doesn’t mean they will be used. Drivers cannot be expected to police proper use of seat belts. This would mean helping young students adjust belts each time they got on the bus.

Seat belts may be a hindrance in catastrophic events such as earthquakes or flash floods.

Seat belts could be used as weapons if a dispute occurs between students.

Students who fail to use installed seat belts could cause serious injury to students nearby should a crash occur. They would slam into belted students who would absorb a double impact.

There are no federal standards to outline proper installation of seat belts in school buses.

Because a school bus weighs tons and is large, collision impact is absorbed by the mass and the crash force is far less than that felt in an automobile.

Students on school buses are protected because they are above the impact zone if a crash occurs.

School buses travel at the speed limit or less. Since speed is a factor in a large percentage of accidents, bus fatalities occur less often than automobile fatalities.

There are many pros and cons to the school bus seat belt controversy. Now that you are aware of the pros and cons, you will be able to make an educated decision on the controversial subject.

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DALLAS PASTOR ARRESTED FOR CHRISTMAS EVE BURGLARY | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

DALLAS PASTOR ARRESTED FOR CHRISTMAS EVE BURGLARY

By Rachel E. Montes posted in In The News on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dallas Police have arrested Pastor Sandy McGriff (52), pastor of The Church of the Living God, and charged her with burglarizing a home and attempting to steal more than $10,000 in clothes and other items on Christmas Eve from the home of one of her church members.

McGriff has said it is all a big misunderstanding and a personal lapse in judgment. She says she actually was bravely protecting her former parishioner’s valuables from two other would be theives. McGriff says she went to pick up a peach cobbler from a friend. And then, she said, “Something just told me to go past her friend’s house. McGriff says she noticed two men coming from the side of the home. She then walked around the home and saw a broken kitchen window.

McGriff did not call 911 or even her friend. McGriff cleared away the broken glass, stood on a barrel and climbed through the window to save her parishioner’s stuff from thieves she feared might return. McGriff says, “My mistake was I did not call 911,” the pastor told a reporter. “I just used poor judgment.”

However, a neighbor, David Nanez saw the pastor and he told police he watched the pastor use a ladder and then a barrel to climb up to the window and hit it with something.

According to the Dallas Morning News, McGriff has a previously used a fake name and a allegedly has a criminal record that includes a 35-year-old prostitution conviction.

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PARENTS OF PRAIRIE VIEW A&M STUDENT WHO DIED IN A HAZING INCIDENT SETTLE LAWSUIT | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

PARENTS OF PRAIRIE VIEW A&M STUDENT WHO DIED IN A HAZING INCIDENT SETTLE LAWSUIT

By Rachel E. Montes posted in Hazing Injuries and Deaths on Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Donnie and Katrina Wade, the parents of Donnie Wade II, a 20-year-old biology major at Prairie View A&M University who died in a hazing incident in 2009 have settled their wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity their son was pledging.

According to a report from Prairie View A&M University, the University found that Donnie Wade II and other pledges were exposed to “unreasonable risk or harm” when ordered to participate in intense exercise drills. During one of those early morning drills, Donnie Wade II collapsed on the Hempstead High School track and never regained consciousness. Instead of calling for an ambulance, fraternity members drove him to a Houston hospital. The medical examiner ruled that Wade died as a result of acute exertional rhabdomyolysis, which can be triggered by strenuous exertion. This medical syndrome, which leads to muscle degeneration, has been linked to the sudden deaths of military recruits and athletes.

Phi Beta Sigma’s chapter was disbanded this spring after a university review board determined that members violated hazing rules and plotted a cover-up after Wade’s death. To further ensure that this fraternity does not simply re-organize and re-open a chapter at the university, the university sanctioned Phi Beta Sigma with a suspension lasting through December 2014 and a probation ending in May 2015.

This case presents a very typical type of hazing case. Usually, the fraternity pledges are forced to undergo certain rituals, exercises or to participate in activities that lead to others being injured or killed. Often, alcohol is involved and the fraternity members engage in these activities every year under the banner of “tradition” to make the pledges feel as as a test of loyalty and unity. These hazing activities often are considered a rite of passage that the victim must endure before the victim is permitted to become an official member of the group. These rites of passage tend to focus on efforts to humiliate, embarrass and often times even involve physical or sexual assault that may cause permanent physical and mental injuries, and in some cases even result in death. Then, after the fact, the group involved often tends to “circle the wagon” to protect the organization and the individuals involved as part of the Code of Silence. Education and enforcement of anti-hazing policies and laws appear to be the best ways to combat this counter-culture and to expose these groups and behaviors. Holding those involved accountable is an important step towards stopping the cycle of abuse so that others will know that these illegal behaviors will not be tolerated.

If you or a loved one is seriously injured or killed as a result of a hazing incident, it is important that you take action quickly to protect your rights. Communicating in writing with the appropriate organizational, educational and police authorities to properly and timely document your complaints is extremely important. Some schools and universities have extremely short deadlines (sometimes as short as 48 hours from the time of the incident) in their Codes of Conduct to report such conduct if you desire for the institution to take any action. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to know your rights and take action quickly to protect those rights.

Montes Herald Law Group, LLP
Attorney: Rachel Montes
Attorney: Tom Herald
1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75063
Telephone (214) 522-9401
www.MontesHerald.com
www.MontesHeraldblog.com

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SEVERAL DEATHS ON AREA LAKES OVER MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER SAFETY | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

SEVERAL DEATHS ON AREA LAKES OVER MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER SAFETY

By Rachel E. Montes on Monday, May 31, 2010

Each year, the Memorial Day Weekend marks that beginning of summer and a substantial increase in lake activities in the area. Sadly, this year, like many previous years, the holiday has been marked with several deaths on local lakes.

Sunday night, two personal watercrafts collided on Eagle Mountain Lake and killed two people. The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. on the southwest portion of the lake near Azle. Two men on a personal watercraft collided with another personal watercraft operated by a man who had a female passenger. The man and woman on the same watercraft were killed. The man was identified as Richard Minnaar, 22, of Keller, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. The woman’s identity had not been released Monday afternoon. “The investigation into the cause is still pending,” Lorance said.

Anyone who has ridden a personal watercraft knows how much fun these machines can be to operate, but they still require a level of skill and control that some people fail to appreciate. Because these machines have the ability to rapidly accelerate, and despite the fact that they look like a motorcycle, they do not brake or steer like a motorcycle. Therefore, stopping quickly or trying to make an emergency maneuver on a personal watercraft or jet ski can be very difficult for inexperienced riders. As a result, many lakes control not only the areas where personal watercraft can be operated, how those personal watercraft can be operated, and how much distance operators are required to keep between themselves and other watercraft, swimmers and the shore.

Although the reports on this incident have not given any indication if alcohol is suspected to have played a part in this collision, it is not uncommon for boating accidents to be an alcohol-related event as many people see going to the lake as an excuse to drink. However, Texas law makes boating while intoxicated just as illegal as driving while intoxicated, and being at the lake does not shield someone from being charged with public intoxication. Read our blog on Boating While Intoxicated for a brief review of some of the laws affecting alcohol consumption.

Sadly, there were two other deaths on area lakes these weekend.

Ricky Frazier (22) of Irving is believed to have drowned in Lake Grapevine after jumping into the lake from a boat 100 yards off show and never re-surfacing. Investigators do not know what caused Frazier to disappear but said alcohol does not appear to be a factor. Divers were also checking conditions at the site where he jumped in.

Balint Gash (24) of The Colony also died Sunday at Lake Lewisville after jumped off a boat and never surfaced. Game Warden Neal Bieler, captain for the Fort Worth district, stressed how important it is for all people at the lake to wear a life jacket whether people think they need them or not.” And for children, the law requires children 13 and under to wear a life jacket on any watercraft at all times, and each water craft must have at least one life jacket for each person on board. Likewise, any person riding a personal watercraft without a life jacket can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Rachel Montes and Tom Herald are the attorneys at Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P. We are located in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex at 1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100, Irving, Texas 75063. Telephone (214) 522-9401. Visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com, our blog at www.MontesHeraldBlog.com and our Facebook at Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P. to learn more about current events and issues that may affect you.

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ARLINGTON WOMAN CHARGED WITH FELONY AFTER PIT BULL ATTACK | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

ARLINGTON WOMAN CHARGED WITH FELONY AFTER PIT BULL ATTACK

By Rachel E. Montes on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nancy Hayes, (30), of Arlington, Texas, is the owner of two pit bulls, one of which was previously declared as “dangerous” was charged with a crime for her dogs’ recent attack on a neighbor. The victim, Robert Wallis, (66) said Hayes’ two pit bulls flew out an unlocked gate as he walked outside to his mailbox. Mr. Wallis reported that, “(There was) no warning, and every time I got halfway back up, I was pulled back down again.” The dog bit Mr. Wallis on his hand, arm, ankle and face. “All I could think of was (to) get up and keep them off of me,” Mr. Wallis was rescued by a postal service employee. Wallis says his neighbor hasn’t apologized for the attack or said anything to him since it happened April 22. As is typical for these types of incidents, the city euthanized both of the animals after this attack.

One of the same dogs had been declared dangerous last summer after it attacked another man. Following that incident, Hayes had promised to keep the animal restrained. Like most cities, Arlington has a number of local ordinances that are fairly strict about the requirements to keep dogs fenced in and on a leash.

Arlington’s City Ordinances state:

Section 4.11 Animal At Large

     A.   A person commits an offense if he fails to keep an animal he owns from being at large.

Section 8.05 Requirements for Owners of Dangerous Animals

     A.   … the owner of a dangerous animal, the owner shall:

          1. Register the dangerous animal with the Animal Services Manager and maintain current registration at all times;

          2. Restrain the animal in a secure enclosure inspected and approved by the Animal Services Manager;

         4. Microchip and register the dangerous animal for its life with a national registry, and present proof to the Animal Services Manager…..

Section 8.06 Registration

     A. The Animal Services Manager shall annually register a dangerous animal if the owner is in compliance with the owner’s requirements of Section 8.05. ….

Section 8.10 Muzzle and Restraint of Dangerous Animals

An owner of a dangerous animal shall not permit a dangerous animal to be outside the secure enclosure unless the animal is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash, no longer than six (6) feet in length, and a capable person is in immediate physical control of the leash. Such animal shall not be leashed to any inanimate object such as a tree, post, building, or other object. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal.

 

Section 8.08 Offenses

     A. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous animal and the animal makes an unprovoked attack on another person outside the animal’s enclosure, and the attack causes bodily injury to the other person.

     B. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on a domestic animal or domestic fowl while said dog is at large, and the attack causes bodily injury or death to the domestic animal or domestic fowl.

     C. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous animal or the new owner of a dangerous animal and performs an act prohibited or fails to perform an act required by this Article.

In this case, the criminal charges, however, are not based upon the city ordinances, but rather violations of Texas law. Specifically, police are charging Nancy Hayes with a third degree felony of “attack by dog resulting in serious injury.” The charge is punishable by up two to 10 years in prison. In 2007, the Texas legislature enacted “Lillian’s Law,” after Lillian Stiles, a central Texas woman who was mauled by several dogs in 2005 to hold dog owners accountable for these attacks.

While there is no doubt that even pit bulls and rotweillers can be very good and loving pets, dog owners have a responsibility to make sure that they do not let their dogs roam free and attack other people. This is particularly true when the dog has previously been declared a dangerous dog because of its vicious propensities. In Arlington, if the dog is declared “dangerous” then the dog owner must carry homeowner’s insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 to cover the damages the dog may cause if another attack occurs. However, even if the dog has not been declared dangerous, most homeowner’s policies will cover the damages these dogs cause when an attack occurs that is shown to be caused in part by the negligence of the dog’s owner.

Montes Herald Law Group, LLP

Attorneys: Rachel Montes and Tom Herald

1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100

Irving, Texas 75063

Telephone (214) 522-9401

www.MontesHerald.com

www.MontesHeraldBlog.com

Facebook @ Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P.

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STATE FARM SUES TEXAS AFTER DISCLOSURE THAT STATE FARM HAS FILED A 2ND REQUEST TO RAISE INSURANCE RATES BY 13% | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

STATE FARM SUES TEXAS AFTER DISCLOSURE THAT STATE FARM HAS FILED A 2ND REQUEST TO RAISE INSURANCE RATES BY 13%

By Rachel E. Montes posted in In The News on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

State Farm Insurance Company has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Insurance after the Texas Department of Insurance posted two rate hike proposals requested by State Farm over the past eight months. State Farm is seeking to obtain approval to raise its insurance rates its charges by an average increase of 13% on homeowner premiums .

According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins advised that the Department’s position is that all documents associated with a rate filing are public information, and that the decision to post was partly the result of increases filed so close together.

Rachel Montes

Thomas A. Herald

Montes Herald Law Group, LLP

1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100

Irving, Texas 75063

(214) 522-9401

www.MontesHerald.com

www.MontesHeraldblog.com

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Jury Awards $22 Million in Damages to Family of Student Killed By a Driver Who Was Texting While Driving | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog

Jury Awards $22 Million in Damages to Family of Student Killed By a Driver Who Was Texting While Driving

By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents: Drivers Distracted by Text Messaging and Using Cell Phones While Driving on Sunday, March 21, 2010

Megan Small (21) was killed in an automobile collision when the vehicle she driving was struck by another driver that was distracted because he was texting while driving. In addition, Laura Gleffe, another driver involved in the collision was also injured. Megan Small was killed while driving from her home in Houston back Baylor University. The wreck occurred on Highway 6 near Calvert, Texas when. Reed Vestal crossed the center line and hit Small head-on. Gleffe, Small’s lifelong best friend, was following behind her and was run off the road, causing her car to roll. Vestal initially denied having a phone when the wreck occurred, but phone records indicated that he had sent and received 15 text messages and made seven phone calls in the 45 minutes before the wreck, Craft said. In addition, evidence was presented at trial that Vestal has received multiple speeding tickets since receiving his license. “I think the jury understands it is a growing problem [eventhough] Vestal tried to say he didn’t know any better, and he didn’t know it was dangerous.”

Hunter Craft, a lawyer for Small’s family, said “This case isn’t about money,” Craft said of the Nov. 25, 2007 wreck. “This case is about sending a message to everybody and protecting people in the future, and in order for them to be able to accomplish that, we told them they were going to have to make a significant award.” Craft said the Small family’s intention was always to send a message about the dangers of texting while driving, not to collect damages.

A Texas A&M University student has been ordered to pay $22 million in damages after a Robertson County jury found that his texting while driving caused a car accident that killed a Baylor University senior biochemistry major.

Lawyers said the damages awarded to the family of Megan Small, who was 21 when she died, and Laura Gleffe, the driver of another car that was run off the road in the accident, may be the most a jury has handed out in Robertson County.

Approximately one in five drivers admit to texting while driving at least once in the last 30 days. The popularity of texting is unquestionable. About two-thirds of Texas teenagers surveyed said they have talked on a cell phone while driving in the past six months, according to the Transportation Institute. More than half said they had read or sent text messages while driving. A 2007 study said cell phone use was among the primary causes of fatal car crashes among teens. According to CTIA, the number of monthly texting messages reached 110 billion at the end of 2008, a more than 11-fold increase in three years. AAA is asking drivers to go to its website at www.aaafoundation.org/multimedia/headsup.cfm to learn more about its efforts to stop driving while texting.

The Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P. is a law firm with offices in Irving and Dallas Texas. We are experienced and qualified attorneys who dedicate our practice to the representation of personal injury victims, including victims of car accidents and other cases where people are severely injured through the negligence and reckless conduct of others all across the state of Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Please visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com for more information concerning our law firm and lawyer Rachel Montes and Tom Herald. If you desire a free consultation on a personal injury matter, please call us at (214) 522-9401 or email us at Rachel@MontesHerald.com or Thomas@MontesHerald.com for a free case evaluation.

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