HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas school district has stumbled on the state’s post-Civil War history of leasing black prisoners to plantation owners, as its construction project turned up what archaeologists believe are the bones of prisoners-for-hire in an unmarked cemetery.
HOUSTON (CN) - A Houston luxury car dealer fired its top salesman for "insubordination," for defying its policy of not doing business with African-Americans, the salesman claims in court.
HOUSTON (CN) - A week away from his execution date, an inmate sued Texas, demanding disclosure of its lethal injection protocol, and citing Oklahoma's recent death chamber disaster.
An outraged widow claims in court that General Motors contrived a defense that her husband "was a murderer and intended to kill himself and his children" when his Chevy Malibu veered into a pole, and that GM concealed evidence that a "vehicle malfunction" caused the wreck.
Doris Phillips a.k.a. Doris Powledge sued General Motors for herself and the estates of her husband and their four late children, in Galveston County Court.
"On October 18, 2005 a father and his four children were killed in a fiery one-car accident," the complaint begins. "That morning Adam Powledge was taking his children to school. As they drove along I-45 in Houston, Adam lost control of his vehicle, a 2004 Chevy Malibu, and drove onto a grassy median.
"Unable to control the vehicle, the Malibu drove in an almost perfectly straight line until it was cut into two parts, down the middle, by a metal pole located at the center of the median. The car erupted in fire with Adam and the little children inside."
All five occupants died in the wreck.
Phillips sued GM in 2007 , "alleging that an electrical malfunction caused a loss of control of the vehicle."
But GM called her theory "implausible" as no recall had been issued on the 2004 Chevy Malibu, Phillips says in the new lawsuit.
The new complaint states: "A cornerstone of GM's legal defense to the 2007 lawsuit was a particularly nefarious accusation - that Adam Powledge was not the victim of a GM defect, but was a murderer and intended to kill himself and his children. This defense was used throughout the litigation as a means of undermining Dori's case."
Doris Phillips is referred to as "Dori" in the complaint.
She claims GM dragged out the litigation through its 2009 bankruptcy, then with its assets stripped, forced her and other litigants to "accept penny-on-the-dollar settlements."
GM became a poster child for putting the bottom line before customer safety in February, when it announced it was recalling Chevrolets, Saturns and Pontiacs dating back to model year 2004 due to a defective ignition switch that can cause a dangerous sudden power loss.
According to a class action filed against GM, it knew about the defect in 2004 but waited a decade to issue a recall, even as evidence mounted that the defect was linked to dozens of fatal car wrecks.
GM followed up the February recall with another on March 31, affecting 1.3 million vehicles with defective power steering, including the 2004 Chevy Malibu, the car in which Phillips' husband and four children died.
The latest recall prompted Phillips to sue GM on Tuesday, and ask the court to set aside and vacate the final judgment in her previous lawsuit.
Phillips also wants up to $300 million in punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy, infliction of emotional distress and racketeering.
She is represented by Joshua Davis of Houston.
General Motors said it would not comment on the lawsuit unless it got a request on company letterhead, sent to the proper GM division, a procedure which could not be completed by press time.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government on Wednesday released a report that it lost $11.2 billion on its bailout of GM.
McALLEN, Texas (CN) - A U.S. marshal shot an unarmed man in the back after raiding his home for suspicion of kidnapping, though the man's alleged victim, his girlfriend, "answered the door" and "appeared fine, with her children happily outside playing," the wounded man claims in court.
HOUSTON (CN) - A security guard forcibly raped a woman in a Houston Greyhound bus terminal after pulling her out of line and handcuffing her, the woman claims in court.
Fourteen people have died of heat stroke in Texas prisons since 2007, needless deaths the state could prevent with a few air-conditioners, a grieving mother claims in court.
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - As her husband begged them to "put the gun away," Texas police repeatedly shot and Tasered a demented 67-year-old woman because she wouldn't drop a letter opener, then told the husband they had "saved his ass," the man claims.
Worker Claims Bosses Repeatedly Tasered Him Until He Defecated and Urinated on Himself and Videotaped It, Laughing Like Depraved 'Deviants'
Managers at a car dealer repeatedly Tasered a salesman until he urinated and defecated on himself, filmed it and laughed like "depraved ... deviants," then posted the video on Facebook and YouTube, the salesman claims in court.
A former Harris County jailer must face claims that his rape of a 15-year-old detainee was caught on videotape, a federal judge ruled.
In a November 2012 complaint on behalf of their daughter M.S.H., Michelle and Danny Hall sued Harris County; the executive director of its juvenile probation department, Thomas Brooks; and former correctional officer Robert Robinson.
The couple said Robinson took a special interest in M.S.H. during her two-month detainment in downtown Houston's Harris County Juvenile Justice Center.
Robinson, then 28, was assigned to the jail's boys unit but visited M.S.H. in the girls unit up to three times a week, according to the complaint.
"The grooming of M.S.H. began with Robinson's visits in which he gave M.S.H. food and candy," the complaint states. "His visits quickly escalated with quid pro quo requests that exchanged gifts for genital fondling and touching."
The Halls said that the lack of rules at Harris County juvenile jail allowed Robinson to have unfettered access to their daughter.
"On or about May 23, 2012, on the eve of M.S.H.'s transfer, Robinson's harassment culminated into the rape of a minor," the complaint states. "Robinson, aware of M.S.H.'s pending transfer, told her that he would visit her the night before she was to leave.
"As per the usual and customary practice of the facility, Robinson was allowed to abandon his post on the 5th floor of the boys' unit and enter the girls' unit undisturbed. He was allowed to enter M.S.H.'s room, with the lights out, and rape her. Unknown to Robinson, the rape was captured on video."
The Halls seek $2 million damages for civil rights violations, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Harris County moved to dismiss the civil rights claims against Brooks and Robinson as duplicative.
The county claimed that the state-law claims against Robinson and Brooks also fail since the Texas Tort Claims Act mandates dismissal of employees from a suit when claims are brought against both a governmental entity and its workers.
Though U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. agreed as to the claims against Brooks, the judge found that the Halls had sued Robinson in his individual capacity.
Any claims against the officer in his official capacity must otherwise be dismissed, according to the ruling.
"Plaintiffs assert that the Section 1983 claims against Robinson are brought in his individual capacity," Werlein wrote. "As Section 1983 does not preclude a plaintiff from bringing an action against a governmental official in his individual capacity, these claims survive."
In a footnote, Werlein noted a claim from the first amended complaint that Robinson has confessed to the rape and is on out on bail awaiting trial on sexual assault charges.
The claims against Brooks failed since they were brought against him in his official capacity, according to the ruling.