LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER’S BROKEN SKULL UNDERSCORES NEED FOR SAFETY NETS
  • April 13, 2016

A Little League baseball game gone wrong has sadly reminded us about the dangers of flying baseballs and debris from broken bats. Twelve-year-old Connor Benge, of Beaumont, was on the pitcher’s mound on Saturday playing the game that he loves. As Connor pitched a fastball, the batter hit a line drive which impacted the boy right behind his right ear. The blow fractured Connor’s skull and violently knocked him down.

“Before you could blink an eye, it was over,” said Connor’s father who rushed from the stands onto the field as he saw the horrific impact. “It was pure panic.”

Connor was airlifted to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he spent the weekend in ICU. As of Monday he has been transferred out of intensive care and is recovering from the impact, though the young boy continues to experience intense pain.

Connor joins a long list of baseball fans and players who have unfortunately experienced the traumatic effects of wayward baseballs and flying debris from broken bats. Since the accident, Connor’s mother says the family has been contacted by several Major League Baseball players who have also been struck by flying balls and shrapnel from broken bats.

Connor’s experience is a sad reminder that wayward baseballs and flying debris from broken bats are fast and they could be lethal. Some 1,750 baseball spectators are hurt each year by wayward baseballs hurled into the stands. It takes one of these balls just 1.07 seconds to travel 141 feet. And despite the life-altering injuries which baseball fans at most MLB ballparks are exposed to, the organization has been unwilling to act.

“MLB’s diehard fans deserve better,” said Bob Hilliard, Founding Partner at Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales, who has filed a federal lawsuit, in an effort to force MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to adopt increased safety measures at all ballparks, including extended safety nets along the foul line.“This is a needless risk. Extending the nets will, as a fact, save lives.”

And despite the tragic incident, Connor’s father says the young boy continues to love baseball. “He’s crazy about it.”

TAKATA AIR BAG TRAGICALLY KILLS TEENAGER NEAR HOUSTON
  • April 07, 2016

The death toll due to Takata’s defective airbags is on the rise. On March 31st an exploding Takata air bag claimed the life of 17-year-old Huma Hanif, near Houston.Huma, from Richmond, Texas, tragically lost her life while driving her 2002 Honda Civic in Fort Bend County.The defective Takata airbag ruptured after Huma’s vehicle was involved in what authorities classified as a “moderate” crash that typically would not have produced fatal injuries.

However, as the Takata airbag deployed during the fender bender, it exploded, launching shards of shrapnel towards young Huma, causing fatal injuries to her neck. According to Sherriff’s Deputy Danny Beckworth, the investigating officer, if it had not been for the faulty Takata airbag, “Everyone would have walked away.”

Takata’s malfunctioning air bag inflators have already claimed the lives of 10 other people in the U.S. while some one hundred others have been seriously injured. The defect in Takata’s lethal air bag can cause its inflator to explode, triggering a metal canister to blow apart—rapidly hurling dangerous shards of shrapnel and debris onto drivers and passengers.

The attorneys at Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales, LLP have been monitoring the unfolding string of tragic incidents caused by Takata’s lethally defective air bags. While 14 automakers have issued recalls to replace defective inflators in some 24 million vehicles, the progress of carrying out these recalls has been slow. To date only about 27 percent of the defective inflators have been replaced in the U.S.

According to Honda, the vehicle which Huma was driving had been recalled six times since 2011. However, the victim’s family says they never received notice of these recalls, underscoring the need for Honda and other automakers to do more in their efforts to reach car owners.

"Automakers need to get creative and more aggressive about how they're reaching these vehicle owners," said Bryan Thomas of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The federal regulator has announced they will increase pressure on automakers to achieve higher recall completion rates. The senseless death of young Huma is testament that car companies must do more to ensure that all affected car owners are adequately informed of their defective airbags and to ensure that replacement parts are readily available to correct the dangerous defect.

To find out if your vehicle’s airbag is affected visit: www.safercar.gov and use your vehicle identification number to identify any unrepaired recalls.

SOLICITOR GENERAL SAYS: BORDER PATROL AGENTS SHOULD NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR BORDER KILLINGS
  • March 03, 2016

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Sergio Adrian Hernandez, of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was 15 years old when a bullet struck his face, just under the left eye. His lifeless body collapsed under the international bridge as he desperately ran for cover. This was not one of the countless brutal killings at the hands of the drug cartels which terrorize the U.S.-Mexico border. Sergio was shot in cold blood by Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, as the young boy played with friends just yards away in Mexico.

“The agent shot him twice,” an eye witness said. “He thought about it for about five seconds, because he shot at him once, left him astonished, then shot him again. It seems he was hit in the head.”

Border agents have shot across the border and killed at least eight Mexicans since 2006, according to government records. However, any attempts to hold these agents accountable for their rogue actions have failed since the victims were Mexican nationals standing on foreign soil.

"Innocent Mexican nationals have been murdered with no ability to speak through the court system to the person who committed a crime," said Bob Hilliard, Founding Partner at Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales, LLP, who filed suit on behalf of Sergio’s family to ensure that the teen’s tragic death would serve to bring about significant reforms in the conduct of border agents. Mr. Hilliard has taken this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A previous decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed efforts to bring those responsible for Sergio’s death to justice, suggesting that the teenager was not protected by the U.S. Constitution since he "was on Mexican soil at the time he was shot."

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. has argued to the Supreme Court that the Fifth Circuit correctly ruled that Border Patrol Agent Mesa had qualified immunity when he shot and killed young Sergio from across the U.S. border in Texas. According to Verrilli, Sergio’s family should not be allowed to sue for the heinous killing. 

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