January 22, 2009
An insurance company with a potential $25 million liability from a fatal 2007 Houston office fire announced Wednesday that it will drop its legal argument that the victims’ families aren’t entitled to a payout because the deaths were caused by smoke pollution, not the fire’s flames.
In a news release provided to the Houston Chronicle by the Insurance Council of Texas, Great American Insurance Company announced it will no longer ask a Houston federal judge to find that three deaths caused by the smoke, fumes and soot from the March 2007 fire set by a nurse working in the building will not be covered by the policy because there is a specific exclusion for “pollution.”
Federal court records showed Great American had not yet pulled its legal request Wednesday night. Randy Sorrels, a Houston lawyer who represents several family members in wrongful death lawsuits from the fire in a six-story atrium building on the North Loop, said Wednesday that this changes nothing for the families.
Read Article: Houston Chronicle
A federal magistrate orders a Houston oil production company to pay $525,000 to various agencies for a brine spill that polluted the water of Delta National Wildlife Refuge near Venice.
Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles also put Texas Petroleum Investment Co. on probation Wednesday for two years. It pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act.
Read Article: Houston Chronicle
At least 30 banks since 2000 have escaped federal regulatory action by walking away from their federal regulators and moving under state supervision, taking advantage of a long-standing system that allows banks to choose between federal and state oversight, according to a Washington Post review of government records.
The moves, known as charter conversions, highlight the tremendous leverage that banks hold in their relationships with government supervisors.
The financial crisis has pushed regulatory reform high up the agenda of the Obama administration and congressional leaders. Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary nominee, sounded the theme at his confirmation hearing yesterday, calling for a “stronger, more resilient system.”
Read Article: Washington Post
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Wednesday to hear the case of a former Colleyville woman who says a traumatic forced exorcism left her so physically bruised and emotionally scarred that she later tried to commit suicide.
Attorneys for Laura Schubert Pearson appealed to the court late last year arguing that the Texas Supreme Court was wrong in tossing out her case against the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God in Colleyville.
In the appeal, Pearson’s attorneys argued that the Texas court’s ruling “dramatically and dangerously departs” from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, adding that someone’s religious beliefs do not excuse that person from being held accountable under state laws that prohibit such things as assault and false imprisonment.
Read Article: Star-Telegram
The Phoenix Country Club will no longer be allowed to have separate restaurants for men and women.
State Attorney General Terry Goddard said Wednesday that his discrimination lawsuit against the club had been settled out of court. The settlement requires the club to allow women into its men’s grill and men into its women’s grill when both re- open next month after renovations.
The club issued a statement saying that the settlement doesn’t mean it had agreed with the accusations and that it didn’t accept liability in the dispute. But the club said it agreed to let both grills be open to all members and guests. Goddard said the men’s grill has better amenities and is seen as a prime spot for business deals and networking.
Read Article: Arizona Republic
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