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Check back regularly to stay informed of landmark decisions and relevant proceedings, as well as news from Sandra's practice.  Other world news stories also follow. 

Sandra Retained by Family of Bicyclist Killed by Careless Driver

Sandra was retained by the surviving widow of a bicyclist killed when a reckless driver plowed into the back of a group of 7 cyclists as they enjoyed an early morning ride in South Texas.  The widow was among the cyclists and also sustained injuries. Sandra negotiated the settlement of the underinsured motorist claim. 

 

Property Owner Sued for Negligence in Civil Sexual Assault 

Sandra filed suit against a national property owner for negligence after a guest in one of their apartment buildings was sexually assaulted by a "squatter" who had unlawfully entered a nearby apartment and was residing on the property. 

 

Niece Tries to Bilk 92- and 85-year Old Step Sons Out of Inheritance

Sandra has been retained by two brothers, aged 92 and 85, to recover their rightful share of the estate of their stepmother, who recently died at age 101. The stepmother's niece advised Sandra's clients that their share of the estate had been spent on costs of care for the stepmother, although the evidence reveals something altogether different.  The parties resolved the dispute through mediation.

 

Sibling Caught Changing Parent's Beneficiary Designations

Sandra filed suit for 3 siblings against their sister who misused a power of attorney granted by their father to change all of the father's beneficiary statements on life insurance and retirement accounts to leave all of the estate to herself.  The accounts in question, together with monies disappearing from the estate prior to the father's death, total over $400,000.00.  Sandra filed a civil lawsuit against the rogue sister, and filed an opposition in probate to the sister's appointment as the executor. The court ordered the dispute to mediation and all claims were settled.  

 

Estate Taxes Stabilize

Congress entered into a fiscal cliff deal January 2, 2013, which among other things preserved for the American public the pre-2013 estate tax exemption.  Under the Fiscal Cliff Deal, the sum of money one can leave their heirs without paying estate taxes is maintained at $5,000,000, with future adjustment to be tied to inflation. Congress did increase the maximum estate tax rate from 35% to 40%.  Congress also adopted a "portability" provision, permitting spouses to each preserve a $5,000,000 without the necessity of expensive trust planning.

  

Countersuit Filed In Business Litigation

Sandra was retained to represent a business owner fending off claims against a business partner who owned only a 1% interest in the company.  The court stayed the claimant's claims pending mediation, which was unsuccessful.  The business owner through Sandra filed counterclaims against the claimant (who is also an attorney) and two other owners to enforce the terms of the company agreement. 

 

Judge Guts Jury's $940,000 Award in FELA case for Plaintiff Railroad Employee Who Contracted West Nile Virus and Encephalitis from an Infected Mosquito's Bite While Performing Work for Railroad Employer following Hurricane Ike in 2008. Appeal is pending.  

The defendant railroad filed its motion for summary judgment based upon the doctrine of ferae naturae, meaning that the mosquito that bit plaintiff was a wild animal and, therefore, the defendant cannot be held liable.  Sandra prepared the successful objections and response to summary judgment.  The court denied defendant railroad's motion, and the case proceeded to jury trial August 13, 2012, with the jury awarding $940,000 to the employee for his damages.  In post-trial motions, however, the trial judge gutted the jury's award, reducing the railroad's exposure to less than $400,000. The railroad prevailed on appeal.  The decision, however, represents a split in the law regarding liability for a "wild animal" (the mosquito). A Nebraska court previously held in favor of a railroad employee.  Therefore, the employee's appellate attorneys filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to accept this matter to settle once and for all the split of authority, so all railroad employees regardless of the state in which they live will receive consistent treatment under FELA.    

 

Epic Hailstorm Leads to Claims for Deceptive Insurance Practices

Following an epic hail and windstorm in the Spring of 2012 in South Texas, thousands of property owners found themselves battling against their insurance companies for rightful payment of their damage claims.  Another storm in March 2013 left Central Texas residents in a similar predicament with some insurance carriers falling short in their claims payments.  Sandra worked with co-counsel asserting claims against numerous insurance carriers and insurance adjusters to recover damages resulting from the agents' negligence, breach of contract, and deceptive insurance practices, among other claims.  Since that time, in the 2017 legislative session, the Texas governor signed into law legislation that will substantially harm property owners in their efforts to protect themselves against insurance carriers.

 

One More Bad Business Partner

In this unfortunate case, an established business owner brought in a new business partner to expand their kitchen design services.  Unbeknownst to the business owner, the partner had other plans. After growing the business on the shoulders of the established company and enjoying increased sales, the new business partner bolted, but not before running several business projects outside of the company and pocketing the proceeds.  Sandra joined lead counsel to fashion claims against the defendant business partner calling for the appointment of a receiver and the collection of damages.  

 

Plaintiff Prevails Against No-Evidence Summary Judgment and Motion to Strike Expert Witness Designations

An injured railroad employee filed a FELA action against the defendant railroad for repetitive stress injuries resulting in carpal tunnel release surgery, rotator cuff surgery, and fusion of cervical vertebrae.  The defendant railroad filed a no-evidence motion for summary judgment, coupled with a motion to strike plaintiff's expert witness designations out of time.  Both motions were denied.  

 

Partition Appeal - ANOTHER WIN ON APPEAL

Trial counsel retained Sandra to handle the defense of an appeal for an elderly landowner.  The result:  In August 2013, the court upheld the decision for the elderly client, marking another WIN for Sandra on appeal.  In this case, an 85-year-old property owner obtained an order from the court partitioning her 525 acre ranch in Central Texas.  The court awarded the co-owner 300 acres and the elderly property owner 225 acres, together with an 1886 homestead and improvements. Complaining only as to the location of his access easement, and the court's refusal to permit him to continue to share an access road with the petitioner, since that road that lacked any actual easement, the defendant appealed.  He asserted no complaint as to the value of the respective tracts or their allocation.  The court of appeals agreed with the arguments raised by Sandra in the briefs on appeal and affirmed the trial court decision.  

 

Post-Foreclosure Deficiency Action

Sandra was retained by defense counsel to defend a lender's motion for summary judgment, claiming a $2.3 million deficiency following the foreclosure sale of a commercial building.  Additional issues include the bankruptcy of  two co-guarantors, issues as to the enforceability of certain of the guaranty provisions, and possible rescission. The court denied the lender's summary judgment motion, striking a victory for the defendant.  The claims ultimately settled to the physician's benefit.

 

 

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