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A Few of Our Cases That Made a Difference

Taylor v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.

No. 25,537-B (87th Dist. Ct., Limestone County, Texas): This is the case in which Roberts & Roberts forced Firestone to produce the documents detailing Firestone’s extensive claims history with the Radial ATX and Wilderness lines of tires. These documents were produced under a stringent protective order, but Roberts & Roberts convinced the trial judge to include a “sharing” provision in the protective order. Roberts & Roberts’ client then rejected Firestone’s settlement overtures, while Roberts & Roberts freely shared these documents with approximately 50 other consumer attorneys around the country. When these documents eventually became public, Firestone recalled its tires. Roberts & Roberts as well as its clients’ role in this case were chronicled on CNN and NBC’s Dateline as well as in Time, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, and the Texas Lawyer. This ground breaking case against Firestone is featured in McGraw-Hill’s college textbook on corporate crime entitled Criminology and the Criminal Justice System.

Terry v. Lawrence

700 S.W.2d 912 (Tex. 1985): In this case, Roberts & Roberts persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to adopt a pro-consumer construction of the rules of discovery in civil lawsuits. Roberts & Roberts’ construction had been rejected in the trial court as well as the intermediate appellate court. Until this Texas Supreme Court ruling, accident victims were unable to compel insurance companies or negligent defendants to produce their photographs of accident scenes (even though the accident victims might be incapacitated by their injuries and unable to take their own timely photographs).

Mount Pleasant Independent School District v. Lindburg

766 S.W.2d 208 (Tex. 1989): After trying this case to a verdict, Roberts & Roberts successfully urged the intermediate appellate court to adopt a higher standard of care for public school buses transporting children. Unfortunately, the Texas Supreme court reversed the appellate court and declined to adopt the higher standard of care.

Brown v. T.M. Enterprises, Inc.

(115th Dist. Ct., Upshur County, Texas): This case arose out of a traffic accident in 1983, in which a young woman’s unborn child was killed. Roberts & Roberts succeeded in obtaining a settlement for the unborn child’s estate, long before most courts recognized a claim for the death of an unborn child.

Taylor v. Cade’s Building Materials

(114th Dist. Ct.; Smith County, Texas): This was the first in a continuing line of record-setting financial recoveries Roberts & Roberts has obtained for victims of unsafe practices and products. This case arose out of a traffic fatality that occurred in 1982 when a car ran a red light at an intersection. The decedent, who was driving to work, left behind a wife and young child. Roberts & Roberts negotiated a settlement which was reportedly the largest wrongful death settlement in that jurisdiction at that time (More recently, Roberts & Roberts negotiated a settlement for the surviving widow and child of a similarly tragic traffic accident. This more recent settlement was ten times as large as the historic settlement of the 1982 case).

McLaughlin v. Ace Lab

(2nd Dist. Ct., Cherokee County, Texas): This was the first in a line of ground-breaking product liability cases prosecuted by Roberts & Roberts, beginning in the mid-1980s. It arose out of an electrical injury suffered by a young man installing an electric boat hoist. Roberts & Roberts undertook an intensive investigation which eventually uncovered a significant number of similar accidents around the country. The design alternatives, as well as the improved warnings advocated by Roberts & Roberts in the course of prosecuting this case, were eventually adopted by the manufacturer.

Sharp v. Altec Industries, Inc.

No. 03-182 (3rd Dist. Ct., Henderson County, Texas): This case was the first in a series of cases prosecuted by Roberts & Roberts in Texas, Wyoming, and Arizona involving insulated bucket trucks. Linemen were being electrocuted or severely burned because the upper controls for their aerial work platforms were not electrically insulated or isolated. The manufacturer contended that these linemen were at fault because they had failed to wear their rubber gloves as required by the safety rules governing linemen. Roberts & Roberts, however, proved that it was unrealistic to expect linemen to wear their rubber gloves 100% of the time, and that safer alternative designs for the bucket trucks were available. These cases lasted several years until the manufacturer retrofitted its bucket trucks. The number of linemen injured or killed in this manner dropped dramatically after these bucket trucks were made safer.

Nemon v. Manchester Tank & Equipment Co.

No. 02-310-B (87th Dist. Ct., Freestone County, Texas). This was a challenging products liability case that Roberts & Roberts tried for two weeks in a conservative East Texas county. The case arose out of a propane fire in a food booth at a local festival. The plaintiffs, who included the food booth vendor and her friend, died in the propane fire. The propane had been released into the air when the plaintiffs’ assistant mistakenly removed the cap on the pressure relief valve on a 100 pound propane tank with a pair of channel-lock pliers. The plaintiffs alleged that the valve was defectively designed because the cap for the pressure relief valve could be mistakenly removed. The manufacturer of the valve contended that the fire was due solely to negligence of the assistant in attempting to connect propane equipment with which he was not familiar, and the negligence of the plaintiff in supervising the installation of the propane equipment in the food booth. After a favorable result at trial, Roberts & Roberts negotiated a post-trial settlement for its clients. During this litigation, the manufacturer modified the design of its valves to include locking pins securing their caps to their valves.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Morgan

No. 12-98-00093-CV, 1999 WL 33312264 (Tex.App.–Tyler June 30, 1999, pet. denied): This was a difficult personal injury case that Roberts & Roberts tried twice against Wal-Mart during the days of Wal-Mart’s “no settlement” policy. The plaintiff, who was an independent truck driver, alleged that a Wal-Mart employee negligently knocked a box onto the plaintiff’s head while they were unloading the plaintiff’s truck. Wal-Mart contended that its employee did not cause the box to fall, and that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in not preventing the box from falling. There were no witnesses to this accident. The plaintiff waited a month before seeing a doctor. He ultimately required neck surgery and contended that he could not return to his occupation as a truck driver. Wal-Mart contended that the neck surgery resulted from a pre-existing condition and that the plaintiff’s disability resulted from a documented subsequent neck injury. Unsatisfied with the results of the first trial, Roberts & Roberts successfully moved for a new trial. Roberts & Roberts obtained a verdict 12 times larger for their client in the second trial. Wal-Mart appealed the final judgment all the way to the Texas Supreme Court before paying it. Roberts & Roberts has been able to settle most of its cases against Wal-Mart since that time.

Risinger v. H & T Crane & Rigging, Inc.

(4th Dist. Ct.; Rusk County, Texas): Roberts & Roberts pursued this case for an injured client through trial and bankruptcy proceedings in Alabama for more than 20 years to get their client compensated. The client was a young man with a family when he suffered a disabling leg injury in 1982. His case was tried to a jury in 1985. Unfortunately, the responsible oil field company declared bankruptcy and its insurance company was placed in receivership in Alabama. The liquidation proceedings were complex and lasted many years, but Roberts & Roberts was eventually able to secure a series of payments for their client. The client received his final payment in 2005.

McQuinn v. Temple-Eastex, Inc.

(3rd Dist. Ct., Anderson County, Texas): This case was turned down by several law firms before a thorough investigation by Roberts & Roberts proved the police report was wrong and that the plaintiff was not at fault. The plaintiff was a young woman who was left brain damaged after her car collided with a tractor-trailer rig. Because of her brain injury, the plaintiff could not remember how the accident happened or refute the truck driver’s story (which placed all the fault on the plaintiff). After discovering that the truck driver had a history of reckless driving, Roberts & Roberts dug deeper. After interviewing numerous people in the vicinity of the accident, Roberts & Roberts eventually located several eyewitnesses to the accident. These witnesses as well as an independent accident reconstruction by Roberts & Roberts proved the truck driver was at fault and the plaintiff received the settlement she deserved.

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