Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Truck Wreck Near Gainesville Kills Bedford Couple

Bedford couple among dead in crash on I-35 near Texas-Oklahoma border

GAINESVILLE — Three people including a Bedford couple were killed Monday after a tractor-trailer slammed into backed-up traffic on Interstate 35 near the Texas-Oklahoma border, authorities said.

The crash, which occurred around noon Monday about two miles southwest of Gainesville and about 13 miles south of the border, happened on a section of I-35 where two lanes narrow into one because of maintenance work on a bridge.

The wreck left the northbound lanes of the heavily traveled highway closed most of the afternoon.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the crash victims as Anthony and Kimberly Brandon of Bedford and Darryl Hoosier, 55, of Lafayette, La.

Trooper Mark Tackett said an 18-wheeler driven by James Crayton, 59, of Dallas apparently never slowed before slamming into the rear car of the jam.

That car, driven by Anthony Brandon with wife, Kimberly, as passenger, exploded on impact.
Anthony and Kimberly Brandon had three daughters and were members of Harwood Terrace Baptist Church in Bedford.

Tackett said the truck then slammed into another car, injuring Carol Whaley, 63, and his wife, Linda Whaley, 61, of Yalaha, Fla. Tackett said the 18-wheeler then rammed the car driven by Hoosier into the rear of another 18-wheeler, killing him. The driver of the second truck was not injured. Tackett said Crayton was taken to a Gainesville hospital for blood testing and questioning. No charges were filed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Exxon fights paying interest on reduced judgment

Exxon, the most profitable company in the history of the world (earning $40.61 billion last year), recently enjoyed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which slashed roughly $2 billion of punitive damages awarded against it in 1994 over the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The plaintiffs - over 32,000 Alaskans - have now asked the court to award $488 million in interest on top of the reduced damages, something that is routine in virtually every case and which recognizes the interest that money owed to the plaintiffs would have earned had the defendant paid the debt when it was due.

Now in a move that must make even the most hardcore, pro-business tort-reformer blush, Exxon has asked the court to deny the plaintiffs interest because “the substantial delay here was not in any sense Exxon’s fault.” Uh, weren’t they the losers at trial who appealed the judgment in the first place?

Exxon’s shameful audacity knows no bounds. And if the Supremes rule in their favor, the take-over of that court by Big Business appears complete.

5 Good Things

I sat with an old friend yesterday for about an hour and was struck by how 95% of our conversation was about doom-and-gloom topics, notably the economy, the war on terrorism, politics, and rampant consumerism. He said, "Damn, I was born during a depression and it looks like I'll die in one. I'll bet you can't come up with a list of 5 good things to talk about right now."

I like a challenge. My first list of 5 Good Things:

1. My wife and our kids (technically, that's 3 good things but I'll lump them all together in the spirit of the challenge).

2. Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. I don't know much about baseball, very little about the Rangers, and hardly anything about Hamilton, but apparently he has overcome some personal problems and now his career has really taken off. From what I have read about him, it sounds like he's really turned his life around and he looks like he's having a blast. Not to mention he set some record for knocking homers in a recent home-run derby. Hat's off to Josh.

3. Drivers in Fort Worth. Generally speaking, we're a pretty courteous bunch of drivers. As a Dallas friend observed, "Drivers in Fort Worth still wave with all fingers." Let's try to keep it up.

4. Cucumber salad. Perfect for summer.

5. Dara Torres. 41-year old mom wins a spot on the US Olympic swim team. Competed in her first Olympics the year before Michael Phleps was born. Very cool.

Dang, coming up with this list is harder than I thought. And two of them are athletes. I hope this gets easier.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Good perspective from an insurance-defense lawyer in Mississippi

Great op-ed in today's Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi by insurance-defense lawyer Alex Alston (certainly no bomb-throwing liberal trial lawyer) about how that state's high court has shifted to protecting businesses and insurers over injured consumers. Switch the states and names and he could as well be describing the Texas Supreme Court.

Notable among Alston's comments are these:

"Our entire judicial system is built on a "rule of law." In other words, it makes no difference whether you are a prince or a pauper, the law must be precisely the same for all. A court that substitutes its opinion for that of a jury, or simply decides a case for the benefit of a favored party, tears the basic fabric of our judicial system to shreds. If the rule of law is not followed, the entire foundation of our judicial system is undermined. The public has a right to expect the Supreme Court to follow the rule of law and decide the cases before it fairly and impartially without favor to any party regardless of status, race, creed or color...Should we not demand that [they] follow the rule of law? Certainly it is a fair question to ask why 88 percent of the time, the court reverses a jury verdict for a plaintiff and substitutes its own opinion, and why, in 100 percent of the cases involving an injured victim's appeals from a jury verdict in favor of a defendant, the court finds for the wealthy or powerful defendant. Our court must be more than a rubber stamp for the rich and powerful. Shouldn't we expect that and more?"

Well said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court saves Exxon $2 billion

The U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion on whether Exxon should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages arising out of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. In a decision that comes as no surprise to anyone...except maybe those who expected that the court would throw out punitive damages in their entirety...the court reduced the punitive damages from $2.5 billion to roughly $504 million, which is about $46 dollars for every gallon of oil they spilled in Prince William Sound.

Several observations:

1. Champagne corks are flying at the Exxon boardroom in Dallas. You can hear the popping sounds all the way over here in Fort Worth.

2. Exxon is the most profitable corporation in the history of ever. It set an annual profit record by earning $40.61 billion last year - or nearly $1,300 per second in 2007. That eclipsed its previous record of $39.5 billion in 2006.

3. Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the decision because he owns Exxon stock. As if...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Longhorn suing Sooner for torn scrotum

Now there's a title I never thought I'd write.

As I posted some months ago, a Longhorn fan apparently had the poor judgment to wear a UT jersey into a bar in Oklahoma City, where he ended up getting in a fight - of sorts - with an OU fan. It seems that in the ruckus, the OU fan grabbed onto the UT fan's privates and pulled mightily.

Now the UT fan has sued the OU fan. Good for him. And good luck finding an impartial jury.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And another truck wreck in Dallas

From wfaa.com:

LBJ Freeway was shut down in both directions near Plano Road after a fiery and fatal crash Sunday morning. Three vehicles — including an 18-wheeler and a pickup truck — collided in the eastbound lanes of of the highway just east of Plano Road at 7:35 a.m. All three vehicles caught fire. There were still massive backups on LBJ Freeway on Sunday afternoon, more than six hours after the incident.

Also from wfaa.com regarding that same wreck:

A 22-year-old woman was killed after she was hit by a car while trying to take pictures of a three-vehicle accident on LBJ Freeway early Sunday. April Sterling, of Dallas, and her friend were heading west on LBJ Freeway near Plano Road when they stopped so she could take pictures of the accident that occurred about 7:45 a.m., said Dallas police Sgt. Gil Cerda.
Ms. Sterling wanted to get closer to the accident scene so she ran into the HOV lane when a vehicle traveling west struck her, throwing her into the eastbound lanes of the freeway. She was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where she died from her injuries.

The three-vehicle accident shut down both sides of LBJ Freeway for several hours. Police said a tractor-trailer was heading east on the freeway and driving over a hill when he locked his brakes to avoid hitting two trucks parked on the freeway's shoulder. The tractor-trailer crashed into the two pickups, causing all three vehicles to burst into flames. One driver was taken to an area hospital. That driver's condition was unknown Sunday evening. Sgt. Cerda said the tractor-trailer driver faces a misdemeanor charge of faulty evasion action.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Crane Collapse

Horrible crane collapse in New York City again, resulting in the death of at least one construction worker and injury to a pedestrian. Eyewitness reports describe a catastrophic scene, like a drawn-out car wreck with screeching metal and even fire. A crane collapsing from a high-rise must be a terribly frightening sight.