January 25, 2019
On January 25, 2019 Senior Partner Howard J. Klatsky obtained a Final Judgment in favor of client Texas Motor Speedway, Inc. and against Plaintiffs, who were seeking to recover a damages award (for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain, suffering, and mental anguish, physical impairment/disfigurement, and exemplary damages) in an amount exceeding $8,000,000.00.
The Plaintiffs were seeking to prosecute claims of negligence and gross negligence arising out of a fall that their adult son (who was traveling in a wheelchair) sustained on a ramp leading up to the grandstands during the early stages of a Sunday NASCAR race. In the Motion for Summary Judgment Texas Motor Speedway, Inc. demonstrated that the Plaintiffs’ claims, no matter how pled, could only be properly characterized as claims sounding in premises liability and that the Speedway did not know of, and reasonably should not have known of, the alleged dangerous condition of the ramp at the time of the fall.
The 393rd Judicial District Court of Denton County, Texas granted the Motion and entered a Final Judgment dismissing all of the Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice and taxing all costs of court in favor of Texas Motor Speedway, Inc. and against Plaintiffs.
December 13, 2018
Senior Partners Daniel Karp and Jennifer Lee obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their clients Greg Hittner and Werner Enterprises, Inc. The trial lasted five (5) days in Dallas Federal Court and arose from a trucking accident that occurred in Hopkins County (East Texas) in February 2015. Werner’s 18-wheeler jackknifed across Interstate 30 in dark and wet/icy conditions and a second 18-wheeler then struck the Werner trailer rendering its trailer lights inoperable. The Plaintiff was driving the same direction and came upon the accident several minutes later and ran into the side of the Werner trailer that was blocking the left lane of travel. The facts revealed that despite no prior issues with the Werner parking brake that it had spontaneously activated on the Werner vehicle, causing Mr. Hittner to encounter a sudden emergency and lose control of his vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that Hittner was driving too fast for conditions and lost control and then activated the parking brake in an effort to prevent his jackknife. Plaintiff alleged a serious knee injury and underwent surgery, and further alleged serious back problems for which she obtained multiple injections. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for more than 1.5 Million dollars in closing arguments. The jury found Hittner/Werner were not negligent, and assigned 70% negligence to the Plaintiff and 30% to the other 18-wheeler, resulting in no recovery.
December 9, 2018
Senior Partner Tom Fee has been named Chair of the Complex Tort and Product Liability Practice Group for USLAW Network, Inc. Complex Tort and Product Liability Practice Group. This group is comprised of a nationwide network of experienced attorneys committed to providing the highest quality legal services and cost-effective solutions to the full range of product liability, catastrophic injury, wrongful death and complex tort exposures, including toxic and mass tort, class actions and claims under consumer protection statutes.
December 3, 2018
Senior Partner Brett Smith, Senior Partner Daniel Karp and Senior Counsel Tim George obtained a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals Fifth District of Texas at Dallas affirming summary judgment in favor of FSSV’s general contractor client in the trial court. The opinion strengthens protections for contractors in the face of injury claims by subcontractor employees and, in particular, recognizes that the implementation of safety programs at a job site does not give the general contractor contractual or actual control over a subcontractor’s work for purposes of liability. The case arose out of a construction accident injury sustained by an employee of a subcontractor when he fell from a “rebar cage” while attempting to place a concrete form on the cage. The injured subcontractor employee alleged that FSSV’s general contractor client owed a duty to the injured subcontractor employee to keep him safe and breached that duty by permitting and instructing the subcontractor to work under dangerous conditions. He argued that FSSV’s general contractor client retained sufficient contractual right of control and exercised sufficient actual control to create such a duty. The Court of Appeals noted in consideration of appellant’s argument that the right of control must be more than a general right to order work to stop and start, or to inspect progress; that the supervisory control must relate to the activity that actually caused the injury, and grant the owner at least the power to direct the order in which work is to be done or the power to forbid it being done in an unsafe manner; and that if the contract does not explicitly assign control over the manner of work to the general contractor, then the Plaintiff must present evidence of the actual exercise of control by the general contractor. Although FSSV’s general contractor client referred to itself as the “Controlling Employer for their Multi-employer Worksites” as defined by OSHA, it also explained that its duty of reasonable care was “less than what is required of an employer with respect to protecting its own employees”. The Court of Appeals stated in its opinion that implementation of a safety manual, its undertaking of a duty of reasonable care to prevent and discover safety violations, and its enforcement of subcontractor’s compliance with safety and health requirements did not constitute contractual control that related specifically to the injury the alleged negligence causes. With respect to actual control, the Court of Appeals found that FSSV’s general contractor client did not exercise control that related to the injury the alleged negligence caused and did not specifically approve the dangerous act.
November 14, 2018
On November 14, 2018 Senior Partner Howard J. Klatsky and Senior Associate Lance L. Livingston obtained an Order granting Motion for Summary Judgment in favor of client Leitz Tooling Systems, LP from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The Plaintiff was seeking to prosecute claims for alleged discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and for alleged retaliation in violation of Section 451.001 of the Texas Labor Code. In the Motion, Leitz argued that the Plaintiff was unable to present a prima facie case supporting these claims and that these claims both failed, as a matter of law. The Court agreed, noting (among other things) that the Plaintiff presented no evidence to substantiate (or even plausibly support) his allegations that his injury played any motivating factor in his termination and that he had presented no evidence of any accommodation request that was ever made by him and not granted by Leitz. The Court also rendered a Judgment that Plaintiff take nothing on each of his claims.
October 29, 2018
On October 29, 2018, a Dallas County (Texas) jury rendered a unanimous favorable defense verdict as to Fee Smith’s client Dallas Lutheran School. Four (4) Plaintiffs alleged claims including negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and gross negligence against Dallas Lutheran stemming from an inappropriate relationship between a Dallas Lutheran teacher and a student. Plaintiffs made multi-million dollar demands and refused to negotiate in response to Defendant’s last pre-trial offer of $500,000.00. The jury only awarded two (2) of the Plaintiffs damages which included $25,000.00 to one and $60,000.001 to another. Dallas Lutheran was only held to be 20% and 10% responsible to these Plaintiffs, respectively. Thus, the total award against Dallas Lutheran School will not exceed $11,000.00. This was a big win, in light of this case being highly publicized in the media by the plaintiffs.
1 The Court has not yet determined if this Plaintiff has standing and we have addressed this issue which still requires judicial determination under Texas law.
September 23, 2018
Thomas W. Fee, Daniel M. Karp, Howard J. Klatsky, Bret A. Sanders, Scott W. Self, William M. Toles and Jeff C. Wright
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
FSSV senior partners William M. Toles and Scott W. Self obtained a defense verdict for FSSV's client in a trial in state court in Tarrant County, Texas, in a case involving allegations of car dealer negligence. The plaintiff, a pedestrian who was filling her SUV with gas, was struck by a car that FSSV’s client had sold approximately 3½ months before the accident. The car’s owner and her boyfriend, who was driving the vehicle when it struck the plaintiff, alleged that the car’s brakes failed. The plaintiff suffered a number of severe injuries and had medical bills of $491,000 as a result of the accident. The plaintiff alleged that FSSV’s client failed to inspect and service the car properly before selling it and therefore asked the jury to award damages in excess of $6 million. Plaintiff counsel previously demanded $5.75 million prior to trial. FSSV partners Toles and Self showed the jury that the accident was caused by the negligence of the car’s owner and driver, rather than by FSSV’s client. After a week of trial, the Tarrant County jury rendered a defense verdict for FSSV's client. Toles and Self were recently named “Best Lawyers in Dallas 2018”
by D Magazine.
D Magazine describes attorneys featured on the “Best Lawyers in Dallas 2018” list as “members of the legal community representing the people and institutions of Dallas with mastery and drive.” Honorees are selected through peer-review voting, with the final selections determined by an independent panel of distinguished attorneys who work with editors at the publication.
On March 22, 2018, FSSV senior partner Michael Sharp and senior counsel Robyn Wise obtained a defense verdict for FSSV's client in state court in Collin County, Texas. The case arose from a trucking accident that occurred in McKinney, Texas. FSSV’s motor carrier client was operating a tractor-trailer northbound on I-75 when their driver encountered traffic that suddenly stopped for road construction. The truck driver contended that the construction restricted his view of traffic traveling ahead of him. The truck driver took evasive action, but collided with the rear of the Plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff argued that FSSV’s client was negligent for failing to maintain a proper lookout, failing to apply his brakes in a reasonable manner, failing to maintain proper control of his vehicle, and driving while distracted. Plaintiff claimed injuries to her neck, back and lower extremities. She received extensive medical care and sought recovery for past and future medical expenses, impairment, pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel demanded $1,000,000 prior to the start of trial. FSSV asserted a sudden emergency defense although the presiding judge refused to submit that definition to the jury. Nevertheless, the jury found no negligence on the truck driver after deliberating for approximately 30 minutes.
On March 6, 2018, FSSV Senior Partner Jeff C. Wright obtained a successful defense verdict in a Nonsubscriber lawsuit that went to binding, Final Arbitration in Edinburg, Texas. The Plaintiff initially filed her lawsuit in the Hidalgo County Court, seeking an unspecified amount of damages for a displaced, fractured femur that allegedly resulted from a fall at work. Since Plaintiff’s claims fell within the scope of an Arbitration Agreement between Plaintiff and FSSV’s client, Jeff Wright filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration that was hotly contested by Plaintiff and her attorney. After oral argument and taking the matter under advisement, the Hidalgo County Court Judge granted our Motion to Compel Arbitration, which was a good initial victory given the South Texas venue. Thereafter, the litigation proceeded in Arbitration. At the final Arbitration Hearing, Plaintiff asserted negligence claims and sought an award of $153,000 in damages, plus an unspecified amount for mental anguish, pain and suffering. After presentation of all testimony and evidence, the Arbitrator agreed with the defense argument presented by FSSV senior partner Jeff Wright and concluded that (1) FSSV’s client did not breach its duty to exercise reasonable care to provide a safe place to work, and that (2) Plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages were not caused by any negligent act or omission on the part of FSSV’s client. The Arbitrator ordered that Plaintiff take nothing by her lawsuit.
Announcing the selection of Scott W. Self among America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® for 2018. Selection to America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify most exceptional Civil Defense Litigators in throughout the nation.
Candidates are carefully screened through comprehensive Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.
Only the top 100 qualifying defense litigators in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of litigators in the community.
FSSV senior partner Scott W. Self and senior counsel Kelly C. Walker obtained a defense verdict for FSSV's client in a trial in state court in Denton County, Texas, involving complex environmental issues. The plaintiff, which owns real property in Denton County, claimed that FSSV's client, a heavy civil contractor, had unlawfully removed fill dirt from the plaintiff's property and dumped contaminants onto the property. The plaintiff demanded more than $13 million before trial and asked the jury to award damages in excess of $8 million during trial. FSSV attorneys Self and Walker showed the jury that FSSV's client had lawfully purchased the fill dirt from the landowner's agent and had brought non-hazardous and commercially useful replacement material back to the property. After two weeks of trial, the Denton County jury rendered a unanimous defense verdict for FSSV's client.FSSV senior partner Scott W. Self and senior counsel Kelly C. Walker obtained a defense verdict for FSSV's client in a trial in state court in Denton County, Texas, involving complex environmental issues. The plaintiff, which owns real property in Denton County, claimed that FSSV's client, a heavy civil contractor, had unlawfully removed fill dirt from the plaintiff's property and dumped contaminants onto the property. The plaintiff demanded more than $13 million before trial and asked the jury to award damages in excess of $8 million during trial. FSSV attorneys Self and Walker showed the jury that FSSV's client had lawfully purchased the fill dirt from the landowner's agent and had brought non-hazardous and commercially useful replacement material back to the property. After two weeks of trial, the Denton County jury rendered a unanimous defense verdict for FSSV's client.
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