Coming back to the office after a long weekend causes multiple emotions. I always know I have lots of work to do on Monday. I also spent the past few days doing many things besides eating good fixins’. That included a lot of reading.
I read one article on blogging that advised that a successful blogger should include a lot of pictures to keep the reader’s attention.
Another article said to reduce or eliminate pictures in blogs, and get right to the point. So, I guess you can always find someone to agree… or disagree!
Which brings me to more of my weekend reading. While reading Tidewater’s Pilot Online over the weekend, I was saddened to see an obituary/article titled Thomas Moss, former House speaker and Norfolk treasurer, dies. That leads me to remember a personal court story about Tom Moss, as well as a reference to his power as a legislator.
In 1981, The Washington Post did a story on Tom Moss, who at that time was the Majority Leader for the Virginia House of Delegates. As discussed by the reporter in that story, Moss also represented Yellow Cab company and used his position to contact the State Corporation Commissioner, to get a license for them to operate in other cities besides the city of Norfolk.
As the article recited, Moss legally used his position and power for business. This was done across the board by legislators. The reporter noted that the licensing was granted to his client without the normal hearing, as a testament to the power of a lawyer-legislator.
Now dial forward a few years. This is the memory that I recalled when I saw that Tom Moss had passed away.
It was the mid-1990’s, as I stood in front of a jury to give my opening in the Norfolk Circuit Court. My client had been in a rear-end crash; been to the emergency room; and been treated by a chiropractor for 20 visits. I explained the case to the jury and sat down. To get this far, I had turned down an offer of $9,000 from the Cab company, whose driver had hit my client.
Tom Moss stood and gave his opening. Shortly into it, he advised the jury that my client had been treated… not by a doctor… but by a quakerprackeracker. It was his way of making fun of a chiropractor. He made sure to emphasize quack. I stood and objected and a laughing judge told Mr. Moss not to say that again. Throughout the trial he would still repeat some word that included quack, and then pretend as though he merely was unable to pronounce chiropractor. The jury would laugh with him to my chagrine!
When it came time for my closing, I stood to muster as much enthusiasm as I could. I asked for a verdict of $50,000 and heard Mr. Moss snicker behind me. Then, he got up and gave his funny closing as the jury laughed along with him. As a young lawyer, I felt very frustrated.
The jury was out for about 45 minutes. They came back and the judge asked them to read their verdict. The foreman stood and read, “We the jury, find for the plaintiff, and award damages in the amount of $37,000”. Later, the two members of the jury came up to me after they were dismissed and said that they thought that Mr. Moss was really funny. At that point… I did too!
Honestly, I was excited and stunned by the result. After the jury left, Mr. Moss told me to enjoy this verdict amount because it would never happen again. I didn’t know what he meant. I assumed he meant that next time my verdict would be closer to 9K.
I learned that in the next General Assembly session, Delegate Moss was successful in getting a bill into law that made all taxi drivers classified as independent contractors. So, the Cab company only had to carry the minimum amount of state coverage on their taxis. An amount of $25,000 of insurance and no more. They could not be responsible above that amount if the driver was in a car crash because their driver was not an employee under the new law.
I had two more trials against Tom Moss in Norfolk Circuit involving Norfolk Cab. From that point forward, I could get a significant verdict against the taxi drivers. But, they usually had no personal insurance or assets.
Under the new law… the Cab company was only responsible up to $25,000 of any verdict. As Mr. Moss told me at the conclusion of our last trial together, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”.
He later became Speaker of the House in the Virginia House of Delegates. The articles and obituary that I have attached all discuss how persuasive he was and all the tremendous things he did in his lifetime. When I read those articles and saw that he had passed away, I couldn’t help but travel down a memory lane of those trials.
And for pic o’ day, I have to admit that I could relate to this!