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MODESETT WILLIAMS PLLC

EXPERIENCED     TRIAL     LAWYERS

515 CONGRESS AVENUE

SUITE 1650

AUSTIN, TX 78701

512.472.6097

FACSIMILE: 512.481.0130

OUR LATEST News AND Updates

 

what's happening in our world

Call to Support Senate Bill 932

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Texas Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 932, the bill that would crack down on bad nursing homes, and now the House is deliberating on whether these bad nursing homes should be held accountable for their wrongdoings. Jack Modesett wrote a letter in February congratulating Senator Schwertner for his work on this bill and on behalf of some of our most vulnerable citizens, which can be read here.


This morning's Austin American-Statesman features a full page ad in support of the bill and we strongly encourage you to check it out, learn more about the low quality of care provided by Texas nursing homes, and take action.


"Tell your legislator to make nursing homes safer and protect Texas seniors by passing Senate Bill 932. Call 1-844-305-8852 today."

Connecting the Jury to Each Other - And Your Case

Modesett Williams - Tuesday, May 09, 2017

At our shop, we spend a lot of time thinking how to connect with juries. We constantly ask ourselves, how can we tell our client's story in a way that resonates with the jury's experience? As we all retreat into our smartphones and become less connected to each other, though ostensibly connected to the world, finding that common ground is becoming more difficult.


Perhaps that is why Sebastian Junger's "Tribe, On Homecoming and Belonging" resonated with me. Junger asks, "How do you become an adult in a society that doesn't ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn't require courage?" He answers his questions with, "Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It's time for that to end." I agree. A jury's experience at trial can and should be a way to make them "necessary" to society.


Junger goes on to describe human "needs" in a way that can be a call to action for a jury. "...human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered 'intrinsic' to human happiness and far outweigh 'extrinsic' values such as beauty, money and status."


How many of us are aware of how our world works? Are we connected to anything outside of our daily routine? Not really. Junger makes the point that we are "disconnected from just about everything. Farming, mineral extraction, gas and oil production, bulk cargo transport, logging, fishing, infrastructure construction--all the industries that keep the nation going are mostly unacknowledged by the people who depend on them most." Junger's solution: "When people are actively engaged in a cause their lives have more purpose... with a resulting improvement in mental health..."


When presenting your case, give jury members a cause, even if just for a week or two.

Modesett Williams Client Prevails in McLennan County

Modesett Williams - Monday, March 20, 2017

After a five-day jury trial, Jack Modesett obtained a $450,000 verdict against Senior Living Properties LLC d/b/a Jeffrey Place Rehabilitation Center based in Waco, Texas. Mr. Modesett was assisted by Vic Feazell.


The jury found Jeffrey Place negligent and grossly negligent in its care of Homer Byrd, who died a month after being admitted.


The evidence included testimony that showed the 79-year-old blind, diabetic resident acquired a toe infection that turned gangrenous, which led to his right leg being amputated just above the knee and, ultimately, to his death.


Jeffrey Place attempted to rebut this evidence with testimony that said the personnel followed the directions of the center's medical director and did all they could for Mr. Byrd, but the jury found that not to be accurate, particularly given their failing to promptly spot and treat the infected toe. Nurses claimed to have noticed the wound, but not until it had turned black, developed a foul odor and was 4 centimeters by 5 centimeters. The jury ruled this a breach of the ordinary standard of care and that it played a substantial role in Mr. Byrd's premature death.


The Byrd family was awarded the exact amounts requested by Mr. Modesett during his final summations of the wrongful death lawsuit. Though Mr. Modesett left the figure for punitive damages to the jury's discretion, one of the jurors said he would have granted the family more than the $200,000 settled upon if the decision had been solely his. The juror cited the evidence brought by Mr. Modesett as proving gross negligence occurred, saying, "There was a lot more that could have been done for this man, and it was just absolute refusal to see a problem that is blatantly obvious."


Modesett Williams, PLLC is a firm of board certified trial lawyers, based in Austin, Texas. Jack Modesett is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Walter Williams is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. They have tried cases in dozens of Texas counties and throughout the United States.


Modesett Williams represents a broad range of litigation clients throughout Texas and the United States. For additional information, please call Jack Modesett at 512.472.6097.

Jack's Take on the Bill that would Crack Down on Bad Nursing Homes

Modesett Williams - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Read the Austin American-Statesman article about Senate Bill 932 here. The bill was filed by State Senator Charles Schwertner on Thursday, February 16, 2017.


Jack Modesett has spent twenty-five years representing patients who have suffered abuse in the long-term care setting. He feels that Senator Schwertner is to be congratulated for his work on behalf of some of our most vulnerable citizens, but he knows there is still work to be done in protecting these people.


The two agree that nursing home operators must be held accountable for their acts of malfeasance. In handling hundreds of these cases across Texas, Jack has seen every kind of horror one can imagine and recognizes that these types of abuses and neglect occur all too frequently in nursing homes. He asserts that this will continue as many nursing home operators have used recent changes to Texas law to "associate" with county hospitals and then claim Tort Claims Immunity. These "associations" are a sham and change nothing about how the homes are operated or who really operates them; some of the "associations" are with county hospitals that are not within a hundred miles of the home.


If Jack can offer any assistance in representing these victims, holding nursing home operators accountable, or improving the long-term care industry, Modesett Williams stands ready.

CNN: Over 1,000 Nursing Homes Cited for Mishandling and Failing to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CNN investigation published: February 22, 2017


"The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.


"It's impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine.


"Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little - or nothing - to stop it.


"Sometimes pure - and even willful - negligence is at work. In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in their efforts to protect victims who can't remember exactly what happened to them or even identify their perpetrators.


"In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations - or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.


"It's these systemic failures that make it especially hard for victims to get justice - and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes."


Continue reading about the mishandling and lack of prevention of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse cases in nursing homes here:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/

Recent Results for Modesett Williams

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, October 05, 2016

This September, the lawyers at Modesett Williams settled a serious motorcycle injury case for $1.25 million in conservative Williamson County. The firm took on the case when no other firm would due to large liens. For good results on serious cases, Modesett Williams delivers.

What I Learned from a Recently Settled Case

Modesett Williams - Monday, June 20, 2016

We recently settled a business dispute involving claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. We quickly realized that an insurance policy would likely cover the claims, but its limits were about one-third of our damages. It was also a "declining" policy, meaning the limits declined as attorney's fees were paid. The defendants were likely judgment proof.


The plan was straight-forward: gather all of the evidence we could find and give it to the defendants. Within 30 days of the case being filed, we had our persons with knowledge of facts, a decent (but not perfect) damage model and most of the facts understood. We sent responses to request for disclosure before a request was sent. We produced about 1000 pages of documents we had identified. We answered interrogatories within a few days. Then we spent hours interviewing the important witnesses and got detailed affidavits from two of them.


Then we sent a detailed Stowers demand for policy limits. Rejecting our demand would mean the insurance company risked being on the hook for the entirety of a judgment. The time for the demand expired. We gave defendants an extension. Then defendants wanted to mediate and we agreed. Then we filed a summary judgment motion on one of our claims - as a plaintiff. I had even written a preliminary opening statement to test the logic of our position.


We prepared mightily for mediation and had a great presentation. Nevertheless, mediation was unproductive because we argued over what the facts were, rather than what the numbers should be. We adjourned the mediation. Then we provided additional declarations, designated experts on damages and liability issues, which were all issues the defendants had with our case. Having fixed the "problems" with our case, our mediator went to work. We settled for policy limits.


Insurance makes a case much easier to settle. It is designed to pay claims. It also removes some of the emotion defendants feel when they get sued. It also changes your audience. Insurance companies like to "build" a file, so the more information you give them, the easier it is to justify payment of significant sum. There is nothing more intimidating to a defendant than having a plaintiff with all the facts available and understood early in the case. PowerPoint presentations are helpful, but not as big a deal as you think they will be. The Stowers doctrine is a powerful bargaining chip, but has its limitations.

Medical Errors Now 3rd Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Modesett Williams - Friday, May 13, 2016

CBS News has also reported on the study from scientists at Johns Hopkins, saying that, "Medical errors, including wrong diagnoses, botched surgeries and medication mistakes, are the third leading cause of death in the United States..."


Continue reading here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/medical-errors-now-3rd-leading-cause-of-death-in-u-s-study-suggests/

Second Study Says Medical Errors Third-Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Modesett Williams - Monday, May 09, 2016

A recent USA Today article by Jayne O'Donnell says, "Medical errors kill about 250,000 people a year, a new study from a well-known John Hopkins medical school professor and author said Tuesday."


Read more on this chilling statistic here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/03/second-study-says-medical-errors-third-leading-cause-death-us/83874022/

What You Don't Know About Your Doctor Could Hurt You

Modesett Williams - Monday, April 18, 2016

"Thousands of doctors across the U.S. are on medical probation for reasons including drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and making careless - sometimes deadly - mistakes. But they're still out there practicing. And good luck figuring out who they are."


Read more of this Consumer Reports article by Rachel Rabkin Peachman here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/doctors-and-hospitals/what-you-dont-know-about-your-doctor-could-hurt-you/index.htm


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