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truck accidentIn a recent Texas wrongful death case, a car that drove into oil-based mud cuttings slid from the roadway and rolled over. A passenger was ejected and killed. An oil company had loaded mud into a dump trailer operated by an independent trucking company. Neither the trucking company nor the oil company had made sure the truckload of mud was adequately attached before the truck left the drill site.

The decedent’s parents, the next friend of her minor daughter, and the estate administrator sued the oil company and others for negligence. The oil company moved for summary judgment. It argued it didn’t have a duty to the decedent by law because the trucking company owed a non-delegable duty to secure the load, and its internal policies didn’t generate a duty to secure an independent contractor’s load. It also argued it wasn’t foreseeable that the trucking company would act negligently. The trial court granted the motion.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that it was an error for the lower court to grant summary judgment based on the argument the oil company didn’t have a duty to secure the mud load. The oil company needed to present evidence to show it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The appellate court explained the parties hadn’t relied on conflicting evidence. An oil company operated a drilling rig and hired another oil company to control solids. The solids control operator provided evidence that he owed a duty to load trailers transporting mud from the drill site and that he hadn’t relied on the driver of the trailer for how to load the trailer.

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railroad crossingIn a recent Texas train accident case, the plaintiffs appealed a summary judgment granted in favor of a railroad company and a corporation. The railroad company claimed that the plaintiff driver had caused a crash with its train by failing to yield the right of way at an intersection of tracks and highway. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had been warned of a crossing by a black and white railroad crossing sign, but he ignored the warning and stopped in such a way that he blocked the tracks.

The railroad company claimed the plaintiff was negligent and negligent per se. The driver answered the petition and raised affirmative defenses. Later, the driver counterclaimed, arguing the railroad company had legally caused him disabling injuries. He raised respondeat superior, negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence as theories of recovery. After that, the parties filed amended petitions to add the plaintiff driver as a co-plaintiff against the railroad company and corporation.

The railroad company moved for summary judgment, arguing it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiff had stopped the car he was driving in such a way that he parked the trailer on the tracks and failed to provide the right of way to the train. The driver responded to the motion but attached no evidence. Later, he filed a statement and an actuarial report.

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car accidentIn a recent Texas car accident case, the jury found the defendant’s negligence legally caused the accident and the injuries that the victim suffered. The jury awarded the plaintiff $15,000 for past medical expenses and $10,000 for future medical expenses. Past pain and suffering was valued at $6,000, but nothing was awarded for future pain and suffering. The lower court entered judgment for $31,000, plus prejudgment interest and taxable court costs.

The plaintiff appealed. She argued that the jury’s failure to award anything for future pain and suffering cut against the great weight and preponderance of evidence. She argued that she’d presented future medical expenses evidence and that all future medical expenses would be incurred for the purposes of treating her future pain and suffering. Since she’d been awarded $10,000 for future medical expenses, she believed it was inconsistent for the jury to award nothing for future pain and suffering.

The appellate court explained it would only reverse if the verdict was so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence that it was manifestly unjust or shocking to the conscience. The jury is the only judge of whether the witnesses are credible or not.

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fire truckIn a recent Texas wrongful death action, the appellate court considered the trial court’s denial of a city’s plea to the jurisdiction. The case arose after the husband and the adult kids of the decedent sued the city under the Texas Tort Claims Act. They claimed that the fire department personnel who responded to their 911 call for a lift and assist for the decedent failed to provide integral safety features that should have been contained in the emergency medical services vehicle to carry out a lift and assist, and the failure had legally caused her injury and death.

They claimed that they’d called 911, asking for help at home because the decedent had fallen out of bed and they couldn’t lift her back into bed. Four or five staff from the fire station came in an emergency medical services vehicle. The staff had been called to give lift and assist help to the decedent in prior situations and knew about her condition.

When they arrived, the decedent’s legs were under the bed. The staff stood behind her, put his arms under her arms, and yanked upwards. Because of this, her leg hit the bed frame, and she suffered a laceration under the knee. The family claimed they failed to put her body in a proper position to use a safety device like a portable lift board or sling. The laceration caused substantial blood loss, and the family claimed that the emergency personnel wrapped the wound but didn’t stop the bleeding. She went to the hospital, suffered a heart attack, and died.

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tunnelIn a recent Texas car accident case, an on-duty police officer rear-ended the plaintiff’s van. Afterward, the police supervisor came to the scene and spoke to both the police officer and the plaintiff. He prepared the investigative reports.

Later, the plaintiff sued the city for damages under the Texas Tort Claims Act on the ground that the officer’s negligence caused the collision and his serious injuries. He claimed that the city had been given actual and formal notice. The city denied the allegations and argued in a plea to the jurisdiction it hadn’t been given timely actual and formal notice of the claims.

The plaintiff argued the notice requirement was satisfied because he’d actually told the officer and his supervisor about his injuries at the time of the accident. The trial court denied the city’s plea to the jurisdiction.

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stop signIn a recent Texas car accident case, the court considered a personal injury lawsuit that arose when the defendant ran a stop sign and crashed into the plaintiff. The defendant was visiting his brother from the UK, and he ran a stop sign. His car hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff went to the ER, but the defendant walked away unscathed. The accident happened near a home.

The neighbors had a tree in their yard that the defendant told police blocked his view of the stop sign. The cop had not heard of any prior accidents at the intersection, and he’d never pulled anyone over for running that stop sign.

The plaintiff and his wife sued the defendant. The defendant designated the city and the property owners whose trees blocked the sign as responsible third parties. He argued that it was their negligent failure to trim the trees that was the legal cause of the accident.

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railroad trackIn a recent Texas appellate case, the plaintiff appealed in a lawsuit arising out of the death of four veterans in a flatbed trailer during a parade. A train hit their parade float and killed them.

In 2012, two tractor-trailers pulled flatbed trailers that were floats in the parade. Twelve vets and their wives were sitting on top of the trailers. One vet would later testify that as the first tractor-trailer went over the tracks, he heard the railroad crossing bell. Warning lights were activated. He thought the train was stopped, but later he could see it was moving fast and would hit the second tractor-trailer.

The train was about 2,500 feet away from the crossing when the engineer on the train saw the first tractor-trailer go through the crossing. He made a remark to the conductor but didn’t slow the train. Soon afterward, when the train was about 1,200 feet away, the second trailer went through the railroad crossing. The crew beeped the train horn. An emergency brake was applied when the train was close to the crossing, but the brakes weren’t engaged until the train was about to hit the tractor-trailer at 62 mph.

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seatbeltIn a recent Texas wrongful death case, the plaintiffs claimed that at about 3:30 in the morning, a police officer put the decedent in the back of a patrol car. She wasn’t seatbelted in, or else she wasn’t properly seatbelted. The defendant’s car hit the patrol car in an intersection after running a red light. As a result, the decedent was thrown from the patrol car and suffered serious and ultimately fatal injuries.

The defendant admitted to officers she’d just left a bar nearby. She was taken to a hospital and determined to be drunk. The decedent’s family filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging the officer acted within the course and scope of her employment with the city. According to the plaintiffs, the officer was driving a city-owned car, negligently failed to use a seatbelt on the decedent, which allowed her to be thrown out of the patrol car, and failed to keep a lookout. The lawsuit also alleged the officer failed to slow, failed to hit the brakes appropriately, failed to take evasive action, handcuffed the decedent when she wasn’t under arrest, didn’t follow proper procedures related to seatbelts, and improperly provided police protection. The plaintiffs argued that the officer’s negligence was the legal cause of the decedent’s death, and the City was vicariously liable.

The plaintiffs claimed that the city had waived governmental immunity for a death caused by the use of tangible personal property like handcuffs and damages resulting from governmental functions like police protection. The City argued there was no subject matter jurisdiction. It argued that the officer had received a call about a suspected drunk driver and found the decedent sitting next to her car so drunk she couldn’t stand up. The officer was taking her to the Sobering Center. The drunk driver later pled guilty to intoxication manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The city argued that it was undisputed the drunk driver caused the accident, so the city hadn’t waived its Texas Tort Claims Act immunity based on the officer’s use of the car.

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dentistA recent Texas dental malpractice decision concerned a plaintiff who sued a dentist for dental malpractice, breach of warranty, medical battery, and other causes of action. She claimed that in 2012, she’d asked her dentist to repair her damaged teeth. He told her she needed full dental implants and tooth extractions. She had a tooth surgery but continued to feel pain and discomfort afterward. Four months afterward, she reported her pain to the dentist. He then removed bone spurs from her mouth.

He also performed a second surgery to replace the implants with lower and upper dentures. After the surgery, he told her that her dentures didn’t fit right and suggested taking more dental impressions. He told her that the original wax impressions of her mouth were accurate, but the resulting dentures didn’t fit right, and he’d need to submit new impressions. He made new impressions, and in the following month, he surgically implanted six mini-implants in her upper mouth and lower mouth.

Later, she still had pain and got an infection. She went to another dentist several months later. He diagnosed her with having infected dental implants, infected root tips, and badly fitting dentures. He removed the dentures and put in temporary ones. A month later, she had a fifth implant surgery, and her tongue was cut, which caused pain for the next eight months. She sued the first dentist for dental malpractice, claiming he’d breached his duty as a health care professional by putting improper dentures into her mouth twice. She asserted his breaches of the standard of care had legally caused her to suffer serious economic, emotional, and physical harm.

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open casketThe Texas Court of Appeals recently considered a wrongful death claim allegedly arising out of medical malpractice. The plaintiff had filed a survival and wrongful death lawsuit against a hospital, claiming it was negligent and grossly negligent in treating the plaintiff in 2014. The hospital answered, denying all of the allegations included in the plaintiff’s lawsuit.

The plaintiff served an expert report from a nurse on the hospital after that. The hospital moved to dismiss the nurse’s report on the ground that she wasn’t qualified to offer opinions about causation. The plaintiff responded by asking for 30 days to fix the deficiencies in the report. The court sustained the hospital’s objections and granted a 30-day extension to fix the report defects. Trying to fix the deficiencies, the plaintiff served the report of a doctor on the hospital.

The hospital sought to dismiss and objected to the expert reports. It argued that the doctor didn’t explain the necessary ways in which there had been a breach in the professional standard of care and how that caused the injury. It also argued that the doctor’s report simply asserted that the staff had allowed the tracheostomy tube to get dislodged, and there was no detail to support this claim.

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