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Hispanic Worker Job-Related deaths saw increase


construction Hispanic Worker Job Related deaths saw increase


The number of contractors and Hispanic workers who died on the job increased in 2013 even as the overall tally of worker deaths declined, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In all, 4,405 workers died from injuries sustained on the job last year — 223 fewer than the BLS reported in 2012. That equates to a rate of roughly 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down slightly from 2012.
The new tranche of data came on the same day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a final revised rule requiring employers to notify OSHA within eight hours if an employee dies and within 24 hours when an employee is hospitalized, suffers an amputation or loses an eye. Previously, employers were only required to report deaths and the hospitalization of three or more employees.
“Forty-four hundred five on-the-job deaths is 4,405 too many,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said on a conference call with reporters. “We can and must do better.”
According to the BLS data, the majority of workers killed on the job in 2013 — 1,740 — died in transportation accidents; 717 died via contact with objects and equipment; 699 died from falls, slips or trips; and 330 died from exposure to harmful substances or environments. Violence — either homicides or suicides — accounted for 753 deaths, or roughly one out of every six.
The data were released on the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed 2,886 workers. The BLS will release the final 2013 fatality numbers in the spring; historically, the revised totals are higher than those reflected in the preliminary data.
While overall workplace fatalities decreased, two groups — contract workers and Hispanic workers — saw increases.
For workers classified as “Hispanic or Latino” by the BLS, the fatal injury rate in 2013 topped 3.8 per 100,000 full-time equivalent employees, 0.6 deaths higher than the national average. Seven hundred ninety-seven Hispanic workers died from job-related injuries, the highest total since 2008; 708 died in 2012.
Of the Hispanic workers who died in 2013, 527 were foreign-born, according to the BLS. Mexican-born workers accounted for 352 — or 42 percent — of the 845 fatal injuries among all foreign-born workers.
“It’s no surprise that the number remains high,” said Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy and research group. “In part, that’s a function of many Latino workers moving to more dangerous forms of employment, including construction. But also, there’s a huge overlay between the high incidents of Latinos who do [contract] work…It’s a mix of being in more dangerous work and contract work moving into more dangerous sectors. These statistics point to exactly the challenge for our country as workers move more and more into subcontracted jobs.”
The BLS data show that contract, or temporary, workers — those employed by one firm but working under the guidance of another — are dying at a faster clip since the agency began tracking the category in 2011. In 2013, 734 contractors died as a result of work-related injuries, up from 715 in 2012 and 542 in 2011. The Center for Public Integrity highlighted the plight of temporary workers in a December 2012 article about temp worker Carlos Centeno, who was fatally scalded in a Chicago factory.

“It’s a growing problem that temporary workers have injuries and fatalities higher than the rest of the population,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of local and state worker safety groups. “That’s one reason we have to be really concerned about contract workers: they’re continually changing jobs, so they’re more apt to be exposed to hazards that they’re not trained for. That’s a big piece of the problem: they don’t get the training.”

Vogel also called for the BLS to release more detailed data on workplace fatalities, including the names of employers and the manner of death for the deceased workers. Having access to more comprehensive fatality information would help employers develop strategies to prevent workplace fatalities, she said.

The data released Thursday show that most contractors died of injuries from falls (31 percent), being struck by an object or equipment (18 percent), as pedestrians hit by vehicles (11 percent), or through exposure to electricity (7 percent). Those four types of injuries accounted for a larger share of contractor fatalities than they did for all workers. Half of the contractors were working in construction and in oil and gas extraction when they were injured, most often as laborers, supervisors, roofers, carpenters or electricians. Others were most often employed as truck drivers, security guards or groundskeepers.

Several states, including Massachusetts and Illinois, have passed laws in recent years strengthening employer liability for temporary workers. In August, California’s legislature passed AB 1897, which would require host companies as well as staffing agencies to share responsibility for wage and safety violations. Employee advocates herald the bill, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, as a blueprint for worker protection laws around the country.

OSHA has also taken note of the increased vulnerability of contract or temporary workers. Last year, the agency launched an initiative to better protect temporary workers from injuries and sicknesses. In August OSHA released a series of recommended practices for employers, urging them to properly train temporary workers and provide them with the same protective measures and safety gear that permanent employees receive.

The final rule unveiled Thursday will help OSHA capture data for both contractors and Hispanic workers, Michaels said.

“OSHA already recognizes that non-English speaking workers, immigrant workers, are vulnerable workers and they often have the worst jobs, often are not well-trained and they don’t often know what their rights are,” he said.

By tracking serious injuries such as amputations, Michaels said, OSHA will be alerted to potentially dangerous situations before a death occurs. He said that “too often when a worker is killed or injured, we learn that one or more workers had already suffered a serious injury at the establishment.”

We represent injured workers involved in construction site injuries, scaffolding injuries, negligence on the job site, and we are proud of the work we have done to create permanent safety upgrades in these areas. As the above article illustrates, there is a lot more work to be done to create safer work sites. Call us today if you or a loved one has been hurt. Experience. Justice. Results. We are here to help


More Construction Accident Deaths in Texas

The Dallas Morning News uncovered some surprising and troubling statistics concerning deaths in the workplace in Texas. After conducting a statistical review of workplace deaths, Texas was the deadliest state for construction workers, experiencing 4,593 deaths, which is 579 more deaths than researches expected to find. This is in stark contrast to the state of California, whose construction work force is larger than Texas, but experienced over a thousand less deaths than expected.

The area of construction with the most deaths was in the electrical contracting filed, followed by roofing and framing. Deaths from falls continue to be the leading cause of death in Texas over the 10 year period, which is consistent with OSHA national statistics.

What are the major causes? Texas’ practice of designating trade workers as “subcontractors” versus regular employees. Texas construction companies pay less in payroll taxes (by about $100,000.00 in companies with an average payroll of $1,000,000.00) by designating their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. When these workers are hurt or killed, the company they work for then denies responsibility by claiming that worker was not an employee, and thus they have no liability. Even worse, many commercial liability insurance companies contain exclusions for injuries to or death of an independent contractor versus an employee. As insurance companies recognize ways to get out of paying claims, they are conforming to construction company practices and creating policy exclusions that hurt Texas workers and their families.

Texas, like many states, has a large undocumented work force. These workers perform jobs that most citizens refuse to do. The study pointed out that until the immigration system is reformed Texas and other similarly situated states will continue to misclassify workers as independent contractors versus employees because employers will not want to be charged with verifying immigration status.

Another item cited as a causative factor was Texas being the 6th weakest unionized state in the country. The study found that states with a strong union presence had a much lower fatality rate. Some of the reasons for this include that unions offer or even require attendance at OSHA certified training courses. An example is the Dallas local Ironworkers’ union requires its members to attend an OSHA 30 hour safety course before qualifying as a journeyman to receive union job referrals/placement.

We are proud of our recoveries we have gotten for injured workers in Texas. We have secured millions of dollars in recoveries for people who need it to take care of them and their families after a catastrophic injury that could have, and should have, been prevented by using just ordinary care. We welcome the opportunity to represent you and your loved ones in cases involving construction accidents. Experience, Justice. Results. We are here to help you.


Injury Law: Will You Get More Money if You Settle By Yourself?


latino pic1 210x300 Injury Law:  Will You Get More Money if You Settle By Yourself?

I am a board certified personal injury specialist. I have devoted my entire legal career to representing individuals and families who have suffered a tragic loss, either a life-changing injury or the death of a loved one, because of the negligence of someone else. After trying numerous cases in front of juries and judges, and being entrusted with hundreds of my clients’ caes over the years, I feel confident in answering this: no.
Why? The insurance companies representing people and businesses that have been careless, reckless and/or negligent have been trained in negotiation, claims handling, and how to get the best deal that he/she can for the insurance company. In other words, adjusters are paid to save the insurance company money, not to take care of you or your family. They do this very well, and the insurance companies’ profits are proof of this. The bottom line is that insurance companies are billion dollar companies, and they got there by making the best deals for themselves, not for you, the injured person. Insurance companies and their employees are specifically trained to know how get away with paying as little as possible to take care of you and your family, why not have someone in your corner who knows how to make sure that the insurance companies are covering all of your harms and losses? Why not have someone who will present evidence and proof of all of your harms and losses, with the goal of making you 100% whole again?
Insurance companies hire highly trained investigators and lawyers to gather evidence and defend them immediately after a loss, you deserve someone who will look out for your interests immediately as well. By the time you well enough to get back to work, and begin to gather your information to try and negotiate with an insurance company, they have already gathered information and evidence designed to save them money, and delay your justice.
We are here to help you, not the insurance companies. We make sure that the insurance companies take you and your family seriously. As experienced injury lawyers, we know the “rules of the game” and we use those rules to make sure that you get the justice that you and your family are entitled to. You will also know that your harms and losses and those to your family have been dealt with properly and that you have not left any portions of your claim “on the table.”
Proving your case involves getting to the evidence fast, reliably and thoroughly. We have the resources to do that. From scene investigation to putting together a comprehensive presentation and timeline of your damages to the insurance companies and their defense lawyers, we leave no stone unturned.
The bottom line is, hiring a lawyer gives you the time, effort and energy to do what you need to do for you and your family, that is, get better, feel better, get back to work, get back to life as you once knew it.
One thing I always tell my clients during our first meeting is that their only job is to get better. Leave the worry to us, we are more than equipped to handle it. Quality of life matters, let us worry about the details, while you concentrate on you and your family.

Rachel E. Montes, Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization 214-522-9401


Rachel Montes on Depositions: Use and Benefits

legal Rachel Montes on Depositions: Use and Benefits


We at Montes Lewis Law, PC are trial lawyers. We hold 3 Board Certifications between us, which means all of our attorneys have tried numerous cases to a jury, passed a rigorous test, and received the praise of fellow colleagues and judges we have practiced in front of.

A deposition is the best way to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both your case, as well as your opponent’s case. It also enables you to gauge your adversary. Often, an adversary who conducts himself poorly at deposition, will exhibit the same poor behavior at trial.
Other discovery devices are available which will help gather information and evidence about your case, such as written discovery, comprised of interrogatories, requests for production of documents and things, and requests for admission, none is so valuable as the deposition.
Oral depositions give you the chance to realize the nature and degree of the deponent’s knowledge. Depositions should always be taken with trial in mind, as though a jury were present. Taking a witness’ deposition will serve to put you on notice of the testimony which can be expected at trial. On occasion, a deponent will be unavailable to testify at trial, and the use of a deposition will effectively preserve that testimony and be useful at trial. Similarly, exhibits which have been marked at deposition, along with transcript testimony, are very effective cross-examination devices.

When properly used, a deposition may identify other witnesses. Very often, a party-opponent will identify one or more witnesses, which may, in turn, lead to further investigation and/or deposition. Occasionally a witness might identify another witness in an effort to exculpate himself. This may ultimately provide you with excellent impeachment material. If the newly discovered witness has material information, you will want to consider taking his deposition. Theoretically, it is to your advantage to schedule and take depositions as soon as possible. It allows you to question witnesses who may later become unavailable or disappear. Furthermore, witnesses who are examined closer in time to when the event took place are more likely to have a fresher recollection.
In practice, however, most depositions are taken long after the event giving rise to the lawsuit took place. In negligence cases such as the cases we champion, this can be two years and longer.

A lot can happen in a deposition. I have had witnesses say things in depositions that have helped the case tremendously, and the opposite can sometimes also happen. The scope of inquiry in a deposition is extremely broad in Texas, and is not confined necessarily by the pleadings. Examination in a deposition may cover any area within the subject matter of the lawsuit, including other parties, witnesses, defenses, damages, or something that may lead to the discovery of other evidence that may be relevant. The spontaneity of oral depositions gives the examining attorney the opportunity to scrutinize those areas where the facts are unknown. IT may also reveal factual aspects which appear to be more important than originally expected.

There is no discovery tool more important than a deposition. We strive to settle all of our clients’ cases before we go to trial. We try cases only where the defendants and their team of lawyers and insurance companies take the position of delay, deny and defend. We always attempt to work out a fair, just, and equitable settlement prior to taking the case to a jury, because that is generally what is best for all parties involved. Unfortunately, the defendants, their insurance companies, and the insurance company lawyers do not always agree with that. Oftentimes, we are up against insurance company-hired defense lawyers who are on the “billable hour” and therefore must bill a certain amount of hours, to make their firm money, prior to talking settlement. Sometimes, we are up against defense lawyers who actually work for the insurance companies, what are called “in-house lawyers” so the insurance companies have less incentive to settle cases, as they are not paying an attorney by the hour.
Depositions are tools to assist in settling your case, as generally speaking, 90% of all cases are settled prior to going to trial, and, most often, cases are settled after depositions are taken. Depositions give us and our adversaries an opportunity to evaluate the testimony and credibility of given witnesses, and this testimony will be preserved by the record. Negligence cases in particular lend additional importance to the issue of credibility, as quite often, the parties themselves are the only witnesses to the occurrence.

Many people think that all legal procedures occur as they did on L.A. Law, Law and Order or Alley McBeal. This is not the case. The reality is that depositions are one-sided and while a judge may be called upon to settle disputes arising at a deposition the judge is not present at the deposition. A deposition is more broad that a trial. At deposition, anything that may lead to relevant evidence in questionable. You can be reassured, however, that lawyers do object to questions that are totally out of bounds or irrelevant, as they should. A deposition should never be used by an attorney to annoy, harass, insult, or attack. If objections are made in the deposition, the party must still provide an answer, unless their own lawyer instructs them not to answer the question. Those issues are ruled upon by the judge at a later time for inclusion or exclusion in the trial of the case, or to make other evidentiary rulings.
The most important thing to keep in mind at a deposition is to tell the truth. The truth is on your side, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Telling the truth, telling your story, allows the other side to evaluate you as a witness, evaluate your case, the strengths of your case, and report back to their boss, the insurance company, on those issues.
If you need help because you or a loved one has been hurt, suffered harms and losses, or if you have lost a loved one due to negligence, call us. We have been working for people like this for years, and we will continue to work exclusively for people, not insurance companies. We are Board Certified specialists in Personal Injury Trial Law, by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We know how to advance your rights, and protect your rights. Call us today. Experience. Justice. Results. We are here to help.


Police Departments and Their Officers: Too Much Power?


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.


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


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.


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


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:


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.


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.




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.




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


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