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September 21, 2017

Congratulations to the newest Texas Super Lawyers Honorees.

 

Clint V. Cox, IV, Thomas W. Fee, 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.

 

 

 

September 10, 2017

Partner Clint V. Cox, IV Leads the Firm’s Catastrophic Weather-Related Loss Team

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, FSSV stands ready to assist our clients with risk assessment and claims handling. Our Austin, Dallas and Houston based attorneys are experienced in managing catastrophic weather-related losses regarding first- and third-party personal/commercial property, casualty and coverage. Should you or your business have experienced a loss, be in the process of managing pending risk or need coordinating counsel for diligence on existing insuring/commercial contracts, our attorneys and staff are available to help. If you have specific questions, please contact our lead partner, Clint Cox, at (972) 934-9100.

 

 

 

August 3, 2017

Partners Howard J. Klatsky and Jeff C. Wright Prevail in Dallas and Harris Counties

 

FSSV Obtains Summary Judgment in Apartment Assault Case

 

Lemus v. Cookscreek 255, LLC, et al; Dallas County District Court

On August 1, 2017 Partner Howard J. Klatsky obtained a final Summary Judgment in the 192nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County in favor of the firm’s clients, who had been sued for premises liability, deceptive trade practices, nuisance, breach of contract, and other causes of action. These claims were asserted  after a third party, who entered an apartment unit in the early morning hours through a window that had an alleged defective lock, assaulted and unsuccessfully attempted to rape a female occupant. Plaintiffs were seeking to recover a multi-million dollar Judgment in this case.

 

 

Partner Jeff C. Wright Wins Arbitration for National Retail Store Client in Nonsubscriber Lawsuit

 

On August 2, 2017, Partner Jeff C. Wright obtained a successful defense verdict in a case that went to binding, Final Arbitration in Harris County, Texas. The Claimant filed suit against her employer (a national retail store), alleging that she suffered a knee injury as a result of negligence on the part of her employer. Claimant underwent one knee surgery and alleged she was in need of a total knee replacement surgery.  Originally, the defense of this case was handled by a different law firm and different defense counsel. With just less than 60 days prior to the scheduled date of the Final Arbitration Hearing, the national retail store contacted Jeff Wright at Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP, asking if he would agree to take over the defense of the case and handle the Arbitration Hearing. Despite the short notice, Mr. Wright and our firm gladly stepped in to defend the Client. At the Arbitration Hearing, Claimant asserted various negligence claims (unsafe workplace, unsafe equipment, failure to train, failure to warn, etc.) and sought an award of $350,000 in damages. After the Arbitration Hearing, both parties submitted post-hearing briefing. In the end, the Arbitrator found in favor of our Client and ordered that Claimant take nothing by her lawsuit.

 

 

 

July 14, 2017

Partner Maria L. Fox and Senior Associate J. Kevin Shaw Prevail in Fatality Trucking Case in Beaumont, Texas.

 

On July 14, 2017, after 5 days of trial in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Beaumont, Texas, a 9-member jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of FSSV’s clients Buckley Transport, Inc. and its driver Cravin Brock.  The case arose from an accident that occurred on February 29, 2016 at approximately 11:00 pm in Orange, Texas.  Mr. Brock’s 18-wheeler experienced an unexpected and catastrophic engine failure with limited warning while traveling on I-10.  After the engine failure, Mr. Brock was able to exit the freeway while coasting when his 18-wheeler came to a stop with it partially blocking the right hand lane of the two lane feeder road.  Plaintiff, driving a Ford SUV with his wife as his passenger, struck the rear of the disabled 18-wheeler without braking or taking evasive action.  Plaintiff was seriously injured and his wife died approximately one month later from her injuries.  Plaintiff argued that Mr. Brock was negligent and negligent per se alleging that the 18-wheeler lights and flashers were not operational at the time of impact due to other mechanical problems, that he delayed in setting out warning triangles, and that he should have exited the highway immediately upon the first warning of engine trouble by pulling into a parking lot so as to avoid becoming disabled in a travel lane.  Defendants’ evidence included testimony from a witness and the investigating officer that the trailer lights and hazard flashers were visible from a distance as they approached the scene after the accident and that the lights and flashers remained on throughout the investigation.  Plaintiff further claimed that Buckley Transport negligently hired, trained, supervised and retained Mr. Brock, and the actions of both Defendants constituted gross negligence.  Ms. Fox argued, and the jury agreed, that Plaintiff was the sole cause of the accident.

 

 

 

May 15, 2017

Congratulations to the newest Rising Stars Honorees.

 

Senior Associates Jason A. Burris and Margaret A. “Meg” Johnson

 

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.

 

 

 

May 5, 2017

Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo LLP Attorneys Named The Best of 2017 by D Magazine.

 

Congratulations to FSSV Senior Partner Tom Fee, Partner William Toles, Associates Jas Braich and Kelly Walker for being selected by D Magazine as 2017 Best Lawyers in Dallas.

 

 

 

April 19, 2017

FSSV Wins Three Appeals in Two Weeks.

 

Kinsley v. Cartwright’s Ranch House, et al.; in the Fort Worth Court of Appeals

 

On April 6, 2017, Senior Counsel Craig H. Myers and Senior Counsel Timothy R. George obtained a decision from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals upholding a complete defense verdict following a jury trial involving FSSV clients -- a Denton restaurant and its owner -- in a premises liability case involving a customer’s fall from a curb in front of the restaurant and resulting death.  FSSV successfully argued that there was no evidence that the restaurant’s placement of outside furniture caused a customer using a walker to fall from the curb and, in any event, the restaurant did not control the public curb upon which the accident occurred.  FSSV Partners Thomas W. Fee and William M. Toles conducted the successful jury trial, and obtained the judgment upheld on appeal.

 

 

 

Garren, et al. v. Cunningham and Greyhound Lines, Inc.; in the Dallas Court of Appeals

 

On April 13, 2017, FSSV Partner Scott W. Self and Senior Counsel Timothy R. George obtained a decision from the Dallas Court of Appeals upholding a summary judgment granted in favor of FSSV’s clients -- a passenger bus company and its driver -- in a lawsuit in which a passenger attacked the driver, causing a crash and injuries to other passengers.  FSSV successfully upheld the trial court’s summary judgment on appeal and prevailed on an argument that even a common carrier, with a heightened standard of care to protect passengers, does not owe a duty to protect against the criminal action of a third party when there is no evidence that the company or its driver had any reason to anticipate that criminal action.

 

 

 

Partner Howard J. Klatsky Prevails in Appeal of Defense of Personal Injury Suit Will v. Bambenek; No. 05-16-00222-CV, In the Court of Appeals Fifth District at Dallas

 

On April 19, 2017 the Court of Appeals Fifth District at Dallas issued a unanimous Memorandum Opinion affirming a Collin County District Court's granting of a Motion for Summary Judgment rendered in favor of FSSV's client Cathy Bambenek, a (now retired) chemistry teacher who taught in the Plano Independent School District. The case arose out of an accident that occurred during a laboratory experiment, resulting in personal injuries. The Will family sought to hold Bambenek personally liable. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Bambenek, who had asserted defenses under the Texas Education Code (immunity for professional employees of a school district where the act is incident to or within the scope of the duties of the employee's position of employment and involves the exercise of discretion on the part of the employee).The Will family appealed, contending (among other things) that Bambenek was not performing a discretionary task when the accident occurred. The appellate court disagreed with the Will family (concluding that the evidence that Bambenek had submitted in support of her Motion demonstrated that she personally deliberated about the manner or means of the safety protocols and invoked her own judgment), affirmed the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment based upon Bambenek's immunity, and entered Judgment in favor of FSSV's client. Partner Howard J. Klatsky represented Bambenek at the trial court level and in the appeal, and was assisted in the appeal by Senior Counsel Timothy R. George.

 

 

 

 

April 16, 2017

Partner Scott W. Self and Associate Randall W. Miller Prevail in Soccer Organization Trial.

 

On April 6, 2017, FSSV partner Scott W. Self and associate Randall W. Miller obtained a defense verdict at trial in Dallas County, Texas, on behalf of FSSV’s clients—a non-profit soccer organization, its officers, and directors—in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff injured his knee while playing in an adult recreational soccer game on a field owned and operated by the association.  The plaintiffs alleged premises liability and gross negligence against the non-profit organization, as well as breach of fiduciary duty and fraud against its officers and directors.  FSSV successfully argued for dismissal of the breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims before the case went to the jury, which ultimately returned a unanimous defense verdict on the premises liability and gross negligence claims.

 

 

 

January 4, 2017

Partner Jeff C. Wright Wins Arbitration for Trucking Client in Nonsubscriber Lawsuit.

 

On January 4, 2017, Partner Jeff C. Wright and the Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo firm successfully defended their client, a trucking company, in a lawsuit filed by a Plaintiff who alleged that she suffered an on-the-job neck injury as a result of her one-vehicle roll-over accident. Plaintiff alleged that three retread tires on her tractor trailer suddenly blew out as she was in the process of turning at an intersection, causing her tractor trailer to overturn on its side.  Plaintiff asserted various negligence claims against her employer (use of retread tires, failure to train, failure to warn, etc.) and, at the final Arbitration, sought more than $1.8 million in damages for her alleged injuries and damages. The case was tried for 2 days in front of an Arbitrator in Dallas. After the Arbitration, both parties submitted post-hearing briefing. In the end, the Arbitrator found that the scientific evidence was overwhelming that Plaintiff simply encountered a situation in which her tractor and trailer flipped on its side due to her speed, rather than anything that her employer did or did not do. The Arbitrator found no negligence on the Employer and determined that Plaintiff was the sole proximate cause.

 

 

 

 

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