EMPLOYMENT LAW

Attorney awarded $1.5 million for firing

On Sept. 24, a former Starr County assistant district attorney was awarded $1.5 million on her wrongful termination claim. Hilda Garza claimed that District Attorney Victor Canales Jr. fired her because she had decided to run for the Rio Grande City School Board. Garza claimed that she spoke to Canales of her intentions on July 18 and that he told her that her opponents in the race would be his political allies and she should “think about it.” The plaintiff claimed that she spoke with other county elected officials one morning to seek their support for her run and received notice of her termination that afternoon.

Garza v. Starr County, No. 7:12-cv-00274

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen

Plaintiff Attorney: Michael Pruneda, The Pruneda Law Firm, Pharr

Defense Attorneys: Jose L. Caso and Eileen M. Leeds, Guerra, Leeds, Sabo & Hernandez, Brownsville

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Hospital not liable for baby born with cerebral palsy

Doctors and nurses at Harlingen General Hospital didn’t commit malpractice in the delivery of a baby who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a jury found on Sept. 20. Adam Cornelison was diagnosed with spastic dyskinetic quadriplegic cerebral palsy 31 hours after his birth. His family claimed that the defendants administered an excessive dose of Pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, causing excessive compression of Adam’s skull. The defense argued that Adam’s cerebral palsy was not caused by skull compression or any actions related to the delivery but by a perinatal arterial stroke.

Cornelison v. Harlingen Medical Center, No. 2011-DCL-05952

Court 103rd District Court, Cameron County

Plaintiff Attorneys: Ernesto Gamez, Law Offices of Ernesto Gamez Jr., Brownsville; Ed McAninch, Law Offices of Edwin L. McAninch, Houston; Mark R. Mueller, Mueller Law Office, Austin

Defense Attorneys: Scott T. Clark and Will Hughes, Adams & Graham, Harlingen

MOTOR VEHICLE

Plaintiff awarded $7,795 for alleged back sprains and strains

On Sept. 30, a jury awarded $7,795 to a man who claimed lower back sprains and strains in a collision. Helidoro E. Lucio collided with Stephanie Watson as she was making a right turn on red. Lucio began chiropractic treatment the day after the accident, treating for about a month. He also underwent an MRI, and it was normal. His paid or incurred medical bills were $7,795. He also sought unspecified damages for past physical pain and mental anguish and past physical impairment. He testified that he had to ask for help at work lifting and moving heavy appliances.

Lucio v. Watson, No. CC-10-04881-B

Court: Dallas County Court-at-Law No. 2

Plaintiff Attorney: Ryan Sorrells, Ben Abbott PC, Garland

Defense Attorney: Naseem D. Alibhai, Suzanne I. Calvert & Associates, Dallas

PERSONAL INJURY

Jury awards $80,000 to man who claimed cop slammed him into wall

A man who claimed a police officer threw him against a wall while booking him at the station was awarded $80,000 on Aug. 21. Jason Geils was arrested by Carrolton Police Officer Don Patin for driving while intoxicated. Geils claimed that he wasn’t giving any resistance to the officer when he picked him up from a chair and threw him against a wall. Plaintiff’s counsel produced surveillance video from the jail showing the incident and argued it backed Geils’ version of events. Defense counsel denied Patin threw Geils into the wall. Patin claimed this he had lifted Geils to a standing position but he was unable to remain on his feet and fell into the wall due to his intoxication.

Geils v. Patin, No. 3:11-cv-00650-B

Court: U.S.District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas

Plaintiff Attorney: Scott H. Palmer, Scott H. Palmer PC, Dallas

Defense Attorney: Lance F. Wyatt, Southlake

WRONGFUL DEATH

Fatal cop shooting results in $925,000 settlement

On Oct. 9, the family of a teen who was fatally shot by a school police officer agreed to a $925,000 settlement. Derek Lopez was shot by Daniel Alvarado, a uniformed officer with the Northside Independent School District Police Department. Alvarado saw Lopez strike another student and pursued him when he fled. He found him in a shed in a private yard near the school and shot him. The officer claimed that Lopez rushed at him, causing the shed doorto strike his face, which he perceived as Lopez’s attempt to take his weapon. Plaintiff’s counsel maintained that the autopsy showed that the shot was not made from close range.

Moreno v. Northside Independent School District, No. 5:11-cv-00746-XR

Court: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio

Plaintiff Attorneys: Ryan G. Anderson, The Davis Group, San Antonio; Wallace M. Brylak Jr., Brylak & Associates, San Antonio

Defense Attorneys: Stacy T. Castillo and Jose A. De Los Santos, Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos & Green, San Antonio