On May 21, 2011, seventeen year old Martin Blea, Jr. entered the business premises of The Pussycat Lounge, an after-hours BYOB establishment located in Odessa, Texas. The Pussycat Lounge was located less than a half mile from an adult cabaret known as Jaguars Gold Club. The Pussycat Lounge and Jaguars Gold Club essentially had the same owners and operators on May 21, 2011 and in the years leading up to May 21, 2011, such that the owners and operators of The Pussycat Lounge knew that dangerous and violent people were in the area and frequently visited The Pussycat Lounge
Martin Blea, Jr. went to The Pussycat Lounge with his older sister, among other individuals. At some point, his sister went to the restroom. As she was returning from the ladies’ room, a man, who was unknown to the sister (and has never been fully identified) but who had previously been seen conversing with a man named Steve Uresti and other patrons of the Pussycat Lounge, approached the sister and grabbed her in a sexually provocative manner. When the sister rejected these advances, the unidentified man punched the sister in the face and knocked her to the ground. The man then jumped on top of her. Martin Blea, Jr. was dancing on the dance floor at this time and saw his sister in distress. He went to pull the unidentified man off of his sister and a fight broke out. While Martin Blea, Jr. was attempting to aid his sister, Steve Uresti pulled out a 9 millimeter handgun and fired several shots into the air. Mr. Uresti then fired several more shots, one of which hit Martin Blea, Jr. in the face and killed him. Mr. Uresti’s gun had made its way into The Pussycat Lounge despite the fact that a policy was in place where patrons entering the premises were required to be screened with a hand held metal detector wand and patted down as part of an effort to keep dangerous weapons out of the club..
After being shot, Martin Blea, Jr. fell to the floor of The Pussycat Lounge where he struggled to breathe until the paramedics arrived. An ambulance transported Martin Blea, Jr. to a hospital in Odessa, Texas, where he was pronounced dead from his gunshot wound. On November 29, 2012, a jury in Ector County, Texas, convicted Steve Uresti of manslaughter in connection with the death of Martin Blea, Jr. and sentenced him to 20 years of confinement in the Texas Department of Corrections.
The parents of Martin Blea, Jr. retained DZWL to investigate the viability of, and potentially prosecute a wrongful death and survival action against persons determined to be potentially civilly liable for the death of Martin Blea, Jr. Our clients asserted that the owners/operators of The Pussycat Lounge controlled the security and safety of The Pussycat Lounge on May 21, 2011, and owed a duty to protect people visiting the club, such as Martin Blea, Jr., from the criminal acts of third parties if they knew or had reason to know of an unreasonable and foreseeable risk of harm to people visiting the club.. In that regard, the evidence revealed that the owners/operators knew or should have known that in the approximately three-year period immediately prior to May 21, 2011: a) the Odessa Police Department had been repeatedly called to the Jaguars Gold Club, a stone’s throw from The Pussycat Lounge, for numerous and repetitive instances of violent criminal conduct at Jaguars Gold Club involving, among other things, armed robbery, assault, gunshot victims and shots fired; b) the Ector County Sheriff’s Office had been repeatedly called to the premises of The Pussycat Lounge (as well as the business previously operated at those premises which was also owned and/or operated by the same persons) for numerous and repetitive instances of violent criminal conduct at those premises, involving, among other things, assault, aggravated assault, assault with bodily injury, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, deadly conduct, robbery and a subject with a gun; and, c) the Ector County Sheriff’s Office had been repeatedly called to the Jaguar’s Gold Club for numerous and repetitive instances of violent criminal conduct at Jaguar’s Gold Club involving, among other things, assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated robbery, shots fired, deadly conduct, stab victim, man with a gun and prohibited weapon. Therefore, our clients asserted that the owners/operators of The Pussycat Lounge knew or should have known of the risk that persons in the immediate vicinity of The Pussycat Lounge who visited the Defendants’ two business establishments in that locale might foreseeably injure other people visiting the The Pussycat Lounge, such as Martin Blea, Jr., and Defendants had a duty to protect persons, such as Martin Blea, Jr., from the imminent, probable and foreseeable harm posed by other patrons of Defendants’ establishments. Our clients asserted that their son died as a result of Steve Uresti’s foreseeable act of firing a gun that had been brought into the Pussycat Lounge as a result of the inadequate security measures employed by Defendants at The Pussycat Lounge on May 21, 2011.
The Estate of the deceased, Martin Blea, Jr., incurred funeral and burial expenses of $11,423.06 and medical expenses of $1,193.50. The parents sought to recover damages under the Survival Statute for the alleged conscious pain and suffering endured by Martin Blea, Jr. between the time he was shot and the time he was pronounced dead. The parents also sought to recover for damages to the parent-child relationship, including loss of affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, emotional support and love, loss of pecuniary value of the services of Martin Blea, Jr. and past and future mental anguish, grief and sorrow.
Despite the various contentions of the owners/operators, their insurance company paid our clients the insurance policy limits of $1,000,000 to settle their claims. The net recovery for our clients, after payment of attorneys’ fees and case expenses, was $555,494.39.
Top 10 things to do if you are injured by a product:
by Daryl L. Derryberry, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC
- Contact a lawyer immediately to prevent the product from being destroyed or disposed of. An attorney can send a spoliation letter to preserve the product for inspection which is crucial to your case. Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney.
- Obtain the name of the product manufacturer and the make and model number of the product.
- Send all worker’s compensation forms, if any, to your lawyer before signing.
- Take photographs of your injuries if possible.
- Take photographs of the scene of the incident if possible.
- Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or company representative without consulting with an attorney.
- Immediately seek medical attention at a hospital or from a doctor if you are injured. If you do not seek medical attention, then the insurance company and/or product manufacturer will contend that you delayed in treatment and are not injured.
- If you do not have health insurance, contact an attorney. We may be able to assist you in obtaining medical care.
- Prepare a brief summary of the incident. Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes. This is helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the incident.
- Obtain a police report if one is available.
Daryl L. Derryberry is one of the two founding partners of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC (the “Firm”). Daryl and Craig Zips started the Firm in May, 2002 and have enjoyed great success since the Firm’s inception. Daryl’s legal career spans two decades and includes successfully securing jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients in oil rig accidents, 18 wheeler wrecks, medical negligence, products liability, broker malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and other cases.
GM Halts Pickup Sales While Searching for Air-Bag Fix
The issue affects an undisclosed number of 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsized pickups. The air bags were wired incorrectly, which will disrupt the firing process, the company said in a statement yesterday.
“GM is working to validate the correction for the condition,” Alan Adler, a spokesman for the Detroit-based automaker, said in the statement. “Once that service procedure is released to dealers, customer deliveries can resume.”
The largest U.S. automaker is trying to move beyond a year in which it has recalled almost 30 million cars and trucks in North America. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra faced four separate congressional hearings over the handling of an ignition-switch recall now tied to 23 fatalities.
GM introduced the Colorado at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, when it touted the vehicle’s capacity to tow greater loads than Toyota Motor Corp.’s Tacoma model. The Canyon, which sold 11 models in September, is the GMC version of the truck. Colorado sales totaled 36 that month. “The volumes are low and there are very few cars in customer hands,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar Inc., an auto-buying website based in Santa Monica, California.
“It comes down to when sales can start again. They’ve started marketing the car, so if a consumer comes in and can’t buy one, then it becomes an inefficiency,” Krafcik said in a phone interview yesterday.
GM is preparing to conduct a safety recall for the trucks, meaning it will notify U.S. regulators and repair the vehicles for free. The company doesn’t know of any crashes, injuries or fatalities connected to the error, Adler said. The automaker has recalled about 26.4 million cars in the U.S. this year. That eclipses Ford Motor Co. (F)’s single-year record of 23.3 million in 2001.
Customers are being notified by overnight letter as well as being contacted by phone to bring their trucks to a dealer as soon as possible, Adler said. Free loaner vehicles will be provided.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at email@example.com To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at firstname.lastname@example.org Niamh Ring, John Lear
How disdain for government regulation sparked a “Texas miracle” economy — while tearing down protections for the workers who built it.
Texas saw a decline in the number of people killed on the job in 2013, but the state still leads the nation in workplace fatalities, according to preliminary government data released Thursday.
There were 493 fatal work injuries in Texas in 2013, compared with 536 a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That represents a decline of about 8 percent. The 2013 figures are considered preliminary and will be revised in the spring.
As the Texas Tribune reported in its Hurting For Work series this summer, Texas has led the nation in worker fatalities for seven of the last 10 years. That trend held firm with the release of the 2013 data. Stretching back to 2000, Texas has experienced more job fatalities than any other state for 10 of those 14 years.
Other large U.S. states had significantly fewer workplace fatalities last year: California had 385, while Florida had 234 and New York had 160. (It’s worth noting that Texas has experienced comparatively high employment over the last decade. Since 2003, a third of the net new jobs created in the United States were in Texas).
While fatalities fell overall nationwide last year, deaths among Latino workers went up 7 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2013 — or 797 last year compared to 748 the year before. Texas has a large Hispanic workforce, particularly in the construction industry, but racial and ethnic breakdowns by state weren’t available Thursday.
Transportation accidents, accounting for 213 deaths, caused the most workplace fatalities in Texas, followed by contact with objects and equipment, 76; falls, slips and trips, 73; violence by persons or animals, 66; fires and explosions, 32; and exposure to harmful substances or environments, 31.
Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers proved to be the most dangerous occupation in Texas in 2013, accounting for 104 incidents, the data shows.
Tyler Morning Telegraph – Family gets $18.6M Goodyear mesothelioma case
The family of a Tyler man, who died after contracting mesothelioma after years of exposure working at the Kelly Springfield/Goodyear plant, was awarded $18.6 million by a Dallas County jury last week, and attorneys for the plaintiff said the amount was warranted.
Christopher J. Panatier, of the Dallas-based law firm Simon Greenstone Panatier and Bartlett, said Goodyear plainly ignored standards set in place in 1972 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Mr. Rogers worked as a tire builder at the Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. in Tyler, a Goodyear subsidiary. He worked with Goodyear machines that exposed him to asbestos on a constant basis. He was further exposed to asbestos-wrapped piping while maintenance work was happening at the plant. Mr. Rogers was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2008 and died in September 2009.
Panatier said the verdict, which was handed up in the Dallas County Court At Law 5, includes $2.7 million in non-economic damages, $900,000 in economic damages and $15 million in punitive damages.
“Mr. Rogers’ family just wanted a jury to hear the story of their husband and father. He did nothing wrong and still died because his employer did not protect him,” he said. “Goodyear plainly ignored OSHA standards to protect workers from asbestos disease and never dealt honestly with them.”
Panatier said Goodyear admitted during the trial that the levels of asbestos were 10 to 100 times greater than the average person would breathe outside of the plant.
He said three other former workers at the plant have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
“The mesothelioma rate is usually one case per million people, so to have four at one plant is about a 900 percent increase to those having the disease,” he said.
Panatier said he believes there may been an appeal filed in the case, but that could take up to six months.
Written by Kenneth Dean, email@example.com