Employment

Parties settle for $150,000 over disability claim

On May 30, a worker at a coal mining company who was fired days after a doctor determined that he was disabled agreed to a $150,000 settlement. James Tarver, a mobile equipment operator, lost his job nine days after giving the company a note from his doctor saying that he was disabled. Tarver was born with a club foot. The doctor's note recommended that Tarver not be required to stand on concrete more than one hour a day. He was fired, the defense contended, because the doctor indicated that Tarver could not perform an essential function of the job he was hired to do.

EEOC v. Luminant Holding Co. LLC, No. 6:12-cv-00314-WSS

Court: United States District Court, Western District, Waco

Plaintiff Attorneys: William C. Backhaus, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dallas; Mark Joseph Oberti, Oberti Sullivan LLP, Houston

Defense Attorney: Eduardo F. Cuaderes Jr., Littler Mendelson, PC, Dallas

Food Poisoning

Restaurant not liable for patron's illness, jury finds

On June 5, a jury sided with a restaurant that was sued for alleged food poisoning. Kimberly Gordwin claimed that she got sick from the chicken fried rice at Nee Hao restaurant in Houston. Gordwin claimed that she was the only one in her family who ate the fried rice and later that night she became ill. The defense argued that, if the chicken in Gordwin's order was bad, then the chicken in other orders would have been bad, too, and no one else complained. The defense introduced testimony about how the chicken meat is delivered, prepared and stored. Also, the defense introduced favorable health inspections from four months before and one month after the incident.

Gordwin v. SSW Investment Inc., No. SC-42C4008097

Court: Harris County Small Claims Court, Precinct 4, Place 2

Plaintiff Attorney: Kimberly Gordwin, pro se

Defense Attorney: Angela Marie Wood, Soule, Baldwin & Fanaff, Houston

Motor Vehicle

Plaintiff awarded $8,409 for alleged back and neck injuries

On June 4, a jury awarded $8,409 to a woman who claimed back and neck injuries in a parking lot crash. Deborah Myers was driving a car in the parking lot of Northpark Center in Dallas when she was involved in a collision with a sport utility vehicle driven by Marion Kopf. She claimed that Kopf unexpectedly put his vehicle into reverse without keeping a proper lookout and struck the front of her car. Myers claimed cervical and lumbar strains. She underwent three months of chiropractic treatment.

Myers v. Kopf, No. DC-11-07745

Court: 191st Dallas County District Court

Plaintiff Attorney: Lucas Lafitte, Ben Abbott, PC, Mesquite

Defense Attorney: John R. Lawson, Meynier, Nohinek & Loving, Frisco

Jury sides with driver claiming failed brakes

On June 3, a driver who claimed his brakes failed wasn't to blame for a rear-ender, a jury found. Remzi Ababora was struck by Eric Calhoun who bought his used pickup truck two weeks before the accident. Defense counsel argued that Calhoun reported the brake failure to the investigating officer. Plaintiff's counsel disputed the brake failure, arguing that the car wasn't examined after the collision, so there was no evidence of brake failure. Plaintiff's counsel also argued if the brakes did fail, Calhoun was still negligent for his failure to have the car inspected when he purchased it.

Ababora v. Calhoun, No. 201151328

Court: 80th Harris County District Court

Plaintiff Attorney: Sean M. Palavan, Talabi & Associates, Houston

Defense Attorney: Karl D. Drews, Cooper, Jackson & Boanerges, Houston

Pedestrian struck by car loses suit

On May 24, a teenager who broke his leg when he was struck by a car while crossing the street was mostly to blame for the accident, a jury found. In 2011, Mark Scott, then 17, was hit by Bianca Quintanilla, also 17. Scott claimed he was walking in the center turn lane when Quintanilla swerved out of her lane and struck him. He claimed that she had been drinking alcohol before she was driving and she was texting on her phone while driving. Quintanilla claimed Scott ran into her path in an unlit section of the road and she was unable to see him until it was too late to avoid the collision. The jury found Scott 90 percent liable and Quintanilla 10 percent liable.

Simmons v. Quintanilla, No. 201148304

Court: 11th Harris County District Court

Plaintiff Attorneys: Howard L. Steele Jr. and Charles A. Sturm, Steele Sturm PLLC, Houston

Defense Attorneys: Michael W. Cooper, Cooper, Jackson & Boanerges, PC, Houston; Dale M. "Rett" Holidy, Germer PLLC, Houston

Premises Liability

Parties settle for $75,000 over fall at restaurant

On April 22, a customer who claimed a neck injury after a fall at a Ranchero County Buffet restaurant agreed to a $75,000 settlement. William Ross claimed that he tripped over a cabinet door that a worker had negligently left open adjacent to a public area of the restaurant. He claimed that the fall aggravated previously asymptomatic cervical spondylosis. The defense maintained that Ross was stumbling and appeared unstable before he fell. The parties settled in mediation.

Ross v. Presson Restaurants Inc., No. 6:12-cv-00271

Court: United States District Court, Eastern District, Tyler

Plaintiff Attorney: George Cowden, IV, Hossley & Embry LLP, Tyler

Defense Attorney: James A. Payne, Jr., Fairchild, Price, Haley & Smith, Center