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ANIMALS

Postal worker bitten by dogs awarded $203K

On Dec. 5, 2012, a jury awarded $203,138 to a Postal Service letter carrier who was bitten by dogs while delivering mail. Kelly Tillerson was delivering mail to a home in the city of Beaumont that was leased to Nikol Conklin and Melissa DeBenedictis, when someone in the home opened the door, which allowed four dogs onto the porch. Tillerson was bitten by two of the dogs on her leg. Tillerson later alleged that Justin Graves and Winey Robbins owned the dogs that bit her. Graves and Robbins were subsequently added as defendants. The defendants disputed who owned the dogs; which dogs attacked the plaintiff; and who were technically the tenants of the house, as five dogs and four people were staying at the house at the time of the incident. The jury found Conklin 20 percent liable, Graves 30 percent liable, DeBenedictis, 40 percent liable and Robbins 10 percent liable

Tillerson v. Tucker, No. A-0188-532

Court: 58th District Court, Jefferson County

Plaintiff Attorney: Tony Malley, Moore Landrey Beaumont

Defense Attorneys: Catherine Cockrell, G. Patrick Collins & Associates, Houston; Albert M. Fong, Law Office of Albert M. Fong, Houston; Mario A. Martinez, The Law Offices of Mario A. Martinez, Stafford; Melissa DeBenedictis; Christopher A. McKinney, Orgain Bell & Tucker, Beaumont

EXCESSIVE FORCE

Officer’s use of force justified, jury finds

On Nov. 28, 2012, a corrections officer didn’t use excessive or unnecessary force when she pepper-sprayed an inmate, a jury found. Officer Shawnequle Fobbs was doing security checks in the Mark Stiles Unit in Beaumont when she ordered Larry Alfred to come out of his cell. Alfred claimed that when he was out of his cell, words were exchanged between the two. Fobbs allegedly sprayed Alfred in the left eye. Fobbs claimed that Alfred got angry after she told him to remove plastic bags from his cell because they were contraband. Fobbs claimed that the two exchanged words and Alfred became really belligerent. Fobbs contended that she then feared for her safety, especially since she was six months pregnant.

Alfred v. Fobbs, No. 1:06-cv-00203-KFG

Court: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont

Plaintiff Attorney: Pro se

Defense Attorneys: Rachael Osaze-Ediae and Patrick Pope, Office of the Attorney General, Austin

MOTOR VEHICLE

Plaintiff recovers $80,000 for alleged injuries

On Nov. 15, 2012, a driver who claimed that he sustained a concussion and neck and back sprains recovered $80,845. Thomas Decarlo was driving a pickup truck in El Paso when Maria Lourdes Castrello, traveling the opposite direction in a sport utility vehicle, attempted a left turn. Decarlo struck Castrellon’s passenger side. The jury found Castrellon 99 percent negligent and Decarlo 1 percent negligent.

Decarlo v. Castrellon, No. 2010-4037

Court: 210th District Court, El Paso County

Plaintiff Attorney: Richard M. Zamora, The Zamora Law Firm, El Paso

Defense Attorney: Jose Vega, Mounce, Green, Myers, Safi & Galatzan, El Paso

Driver claiming disk bulge awarded $34K

On Dec. 4, 2012, a jury awarded $34,507 to a driver who claimed a cervical bulge in a head-on crash. Tim Olson was driving in Dallas when Billy Myers struck him. Myers stipulated to liability. Olson began chiropractic treatment six days after the collision and continued for five months. He sought an unspecified amount for past medical expenses and past and future pain and suffering and physical impairment.

Olson v. Myers, No. DC-11-07251-F

Court: 116th District Court, Dallas County

Plaintiff Attorney: Lucas Lafitte, Ben Abbott PC, Mesquite

Defense Attorney: Sharon Pruett, Gallerson & Yates, Irving

WORKER/WORKPLACE NEGLIGENCE

Worker who fell on flatbed truck awarded $5.5 million

On Nov. 14, 2012, a jury awarded $5.5 million to a truck driver who fell from the top of a crate on his flatbed that resulted in a brain injury. In 2007, Charles Robison was working for West Star Transportation. He sustained skull and facial fractures, as well as a wrist fracture. He claimed the traumatic brain injury resulted in permanent cognitive deficits such as decreased impulse and anger control. The plaintiffs’ life care planning expert testified that Robison will require supervised medical care for the rest of his life and he can no longer be a truck driver.

Robison v. West Star Transportation Inc., No. 2009-546,118

Court: 72nd District Court, Lubbock County

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Mark Lanier, Dara G. Hegar, Robert E. Leone and Judson A. Waltman, The Lanier Firm, Houston; Christopher T. Carver, Lubbock

Defense Attorneys: Robert L. Duncan, Arlene Matthews and William J. Wade, Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, Lubbock

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