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Foul Ball and Splintered Bat

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

I went to my first major league baseball game when I was nine. The Baltimore Orioles played the Chicago White Sox. I sat so far up in the grandstand area that everyone on the field looked like Ant-Man.

As a typical nine-year-old, I was excited about the game… and the cotton candy and sodas… and the caramel popcorn.  All of it. However, what made a lasting impression was a towering pop fly. The third baseman settled under it and waited and waited. All of sudden, he missed it and it landed on his face.

I decided to look it up on the internet to find out who it was and if my memory was correct. I found it! I couldn’t believe that I found it. Here’s the description from hardballtimes.com.

On a relatively routine pop-up at Baltimore‘s Memorial Stadium, he (Bill Melton) lost the ball in the lights at the last moment. The ball caromed off the heel of his glove and into his face, breaking his nose. Melton was knocked unconscious for a minute or two before being taken off the field on a stretcher. “There was blood coming out of both nostrils,” Orioles first baseman Boog Powell told Jerome Holtzman, “and it was coming out of his mouth, too.”

I mean seriously, I will never forget it. Injury by baseball.

The next season, I went to another Orioles game with our church. I bought a pennant that had a picture of the entire team. I now have it framed and hanging in my workout room.

If you look closely at that framed pennant, you can see that the pointed edge is brown. That’s because during the game I had it sitting off the grandstand bench, and someone spilled some dark soda on it.  That coke spill is a part of my framed memory!

I don’t remember much about that game but I do remember that a ball was hit into the stands. Soon, a bunch of people surrounded a person.  I couldn’t see much from where I was sitting… except that again, there was injury by a baseball.

This past week, a lawsuit was filed  (NY Times) which seeks to mandate that Major League Baseball do more to protect fans from foul balls and  bats that go into the stands.

The lawsuit would require stadiums to add netting far down the first- and third-base lines.  The lead plaintiff in the case is an Oakland A’s fan who alleges that her seats were are not properly protected.

This lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court in Northern California and cites a 2014 study by Bloomberg News that reports that at least 1,750 spectators were injured annually at M.L.B. games. If the judge certifies the class, then any season-ticket holder who sits in an unprotected area along the first- and third-base lines would be part of that class. A lawsuit about injury by baseball… and splintered bat.

And for pic o’ day from Amy M, this is classic selfie!

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Categories : Current Affairs, Sports
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Long-Winded!

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Someone read my Monday blog and mentioned that it was a bit long for Monday reading. It reminded me of the story of the long-winded speaker.

A speaker was continuing to deliver his long and boring speech without noticing that he was losing his audience. The master-of-ceremonies was trying to get his attention to clue him in that it was time to stop, but he couldn’t get the speaker’s attention.

Finally out of desperation to get the speaker’s attention, he picked up his gavel, aimed and threw it but missed the speaker and hit a man in the first row instead. The man slumped down and then groaned, “Hit me again… I can still hear him.”

I’ve noticed that we have been picking up more twitter followers lately. Maybe it’s because I can’t send a message any longer than 140 characters.  Lincoln really did have a point with his short Gettysburg Address!

And for pic o’ day, this just seemed politically topical…

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The Value of a Finger

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

During my second year of law school, I started looking for my first job at a law firm. I was hired as a law clerk at a busy Oklahoma City personal injury firm (Homsey Law Center).

Initially, I was assigned as an all-purpose clerk, which is code for duties that included going to the bank… and stacking the cokes and diet cokes in the kitchen. My office was in the storage room/closet. After they put my desk in there, it was still the storage room/closet, that now had a desk pushed against the wall. I was just excited to have a legal job.

Soon, I was assigned to the worker’s compensation section which included working for an attorney who was very long suffering with my lack of knowlege. On the first day as he was describing the laws of an Oklahoma job injury, he also showed me his hand. He did so to explain that he had lost a portion of his finger on the job when he was in college. Then, he went on to explain what he had been paid for a partial loss of a finger, and what it would mean under those existing Oklahoma worker’s compensation laws. Basically, he was explaining the value of the loss of a finger.

Over July 4th, it was reported that New York Giants defensive player Jason Pierre-Paul was injured in a fireworks accident. Soon, it was reported that the injury had caused him to have his right index finger amputated. That led everyone to wonder if it would impact his football career. That is still a question.

Prior to the injury, Pierre-Paul had been offered a franchise tag (How NFL teams can contractually control players who have not signed) one-year offer of $14.8 million dollars, because he and the Giants had been unable to agree on a long term deal. At that time, the Giants had reportedly made a contract offer of 60 million dollars over 5 years with 30 million of it guaranteed. Now, it’s being reported that the long term offer has been withdrawn and there is question about the franchise tag one-year offer.

The loss of Pierre-Paul’s index finger may have significant financial consequences to him after the report that the long term contract offer has been withdrawn. It is a reminder that a person’s loss from injury has different values because each loss has its own factors.

I regularly get asked the question, “what is my case worth?”. Sometimes I will have a person ask me, “Isn’t it true that the insurance company is supposed to pay me three times medicals?”. I have heard people say that they were going to wait to hire a lawyer because they first wanted to find out what the insurance company was going to offer for their case. The two stories above show the difference in potential claim value, even thought they both lost all or a portion of an index finger.

There are a lot of factors that determine the value of a claim. Of course, it helps to have experience and to  have handled other claims similar, as well as understanding what juries might consider in determining the value of a case at trial. What it doesn’t include is some mathematical equation for the injury, and it shouldn’t include the false hope of waiting on an adjuster to say what is fair. Just my 2 cents.

And since it’s Monday, I figured that we needed to be all business for pic o’ day!

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Some Animals in the Law

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

This is a blog of two stories about animals in the news for breaking the law, something like that.

First we go to West Virginia. (ABC News)

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Apparently this West Virginia man is not a dog or cat lover. Instead, he decided to keep two bucks in his house for over a year. In that state, it is against the law to confine or secure wildlife. They must be allowed to roam! No word on whether their new ”place-to-roam” will still include Netflix.

The second animal story involves a player recently signed by the Baltimore Orioles. He is currently serving a 50-game drug suspension. That’s where the story gets curious.

Chris Perez was an All-Star closer for the Cleveland Indians in 2011 & 2012. In 2013, he and his wife were arrested for drug possession after a package of marijuana was delivered to their home… addressed to their dog. Apparently, Perez forgot that you don’t let your dog drink and drive, use firearms… or have drugs shipped to the house.

I could keep going with this stuff. Instead, how about some amazing fandom?

And for pic o’ day, here’s the fan at Wimbleton who decided he wanted to look like a tennis ball… Hmm:

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Expert Testimony

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

I missed the blog yesterday because we couldn’t get the platform to work. To work isn’t really the technical reason but that’s why we had to bring in the computer experts to fix it.

Most of our cases involve hiring experts to testify about the facts or medical treatment in the case. The legal definition of an expert is basically someone who has more knowledge or training on a specific topic than the average person. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of “expertise” to be qualified as an expert.

In a recent case, we hired an engineer to give us an opinion about a piece of equipment. In discussing his expertise, we learned that he and his group had recently been experts in a football case.

That piqued my interest. Couldn’t help but ask about the case. Then I learned from one of our attorneys in the office that this expert had also been involved in “Deflate-gate”. He and his group had been retained by NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s defense team, to give an opinion regarding whether those footballs in the AFC Championship game could naturally have lost pressure.

After I heard that, it caused me to recall the words of one juror who said to me after one trial a while back, “we didn’t pay much attention to the experts on either side. We listened to the parties and decided the case on their testimony, because we just expected the experts to say what the attorneys wanted”.

If every jury thinks like that, it sure puts evidence into perspective. It also gives confidence that cases should really come down to whether the jury believes the plaintiff or the defendant. Despite what silly tort reformers say, I still think that juries are much smarter than what some people give them credit for knowing.

As a Colts fan, I am amazed if anyone believes that the atmosphere caused the Patriots’ footballs to deflate… while the Colts remained the same. Come on!

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would go with some workout motivation:

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Rules and Regulations

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

All weekend, I saw the blue lights of police cars. Many drivers had been pulled over for breaking some traffic rule. I guess just because the car speedometer says 120 or 160… you’re not allowed to see if it actually goes that high. I guess those are the rules!

In the 1920′s, people would go to the beach… to look at the water. The next decade, swimwear companies realized that they had to adapt to beachgoers actually getting in the water. So, they had to create suits that were practical for swimming.

As swimwear became shorter, beach police would walk along the sand to patrol the appearance of improper swimwear. These police would carry a tape measure in hand to determine if a woman was showing too much skin. These police would measure the distance between the bottom of a woman’s bathing suit and her knee. If there was too much skin, then that woman would be fined $10.

Historians tell us that soon these rules of modesty were lifted. Too many woman ignored the rules and the men on the beach didn’t mind.

(picture from 1933)

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The Federal Aviation Administration enforces rules on airlines. The FAA regulates the type of coffee pots that can be used on planes. They also require ashtrays  near bathrooms, even though smoking is now banned on flights.

The reason? Because in 1973, it was determined that a plane crash as a result of a cigarette not properly being extinguished. So, even though there is no smoking, the FAA recognizes that some people will still try to break the rule. Hence, they still want to make sure that cigarettes can be properly extinguished.

Now here is a curious FAA non-regulation. The FAA allows airlines to fly planes with broken restrooms. A quick review. A plane must have a specific type of coffee maker but it can have a broken restroom. Does that make sense? Well, at least there’s some comfort that there are some exceptions.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to provide fliers access to working restrooms during excessive ground delays. In addition, Federal law under  the Americans with Disabilities Act requires working restrooms for passengers with disabilities on certain specific planes. An example is the twin-aisle aircrafts that are delivered to  U.S. airlines since 1992 or to a foreign airlines since 2010.

Rules and regulations sometimes just seem to apply because someone decided that there needed to be a rule.

And for a Monday after a long weekend, here’s that famous dog, Denver! Just seems like a good face of a candidate who doesn’t know an answer.

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Our Independence!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

I was looking across the history books and saw that July 4 is a date with a lot of activity. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. OK, maybe that doesn’t qualify as history. July 4th is the date that France offered the Statue of Liberty!

I find it quite ironic that July 4, 1826, is the day that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. History has recorded some great back-and-forth between those two.

Jefferson died on that date at age 83. The night before, he knew death was close and gathered his family around his bed and uttered, “I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul without fear, to my God, my daughter, to my country”.

That night, he woke at 8pm and asked his doctor whether it was yet the fourth. His doctor replied, “it soon will be”. Jefferson obviously placed great importance on July 4th and lived until one-o’clock in the afternoon the next day. He had made it!

As to Adams, his last words were “independence forever” and then he exclaimed that, “Thomas Jefferson survives”. Adams had also made it to that date that was so important to him and referenced his political opponent… not knowing that Jefferson had passed away a few hours earlier.

July 4 was important to them just as it is important to us. An acknowledgement of our independence.

This is my last blog until Monday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a special July 4th.

God bless America!

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The July 1 Laws

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

July 1st is the day that new laws  go into effect that were enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in this past session. Drivers can now legally cross over double yellow lines to pass pedestrians and bicyclists safely.

In the state of Virginia, farmers can now grow industrial hemp as part of a university research program. Do you think that means that college professors will research whether their students pay attention… while smoking “the ganga”?

Employers cannot ask employees or prospective employees for the username and passwords of their personal accounts.

Bicycles and mopeds are now included in the list of vehicles under the law that governs being ticketed for following a vehicle too closely.6

Here’s one that students should appreciate. Virginia is now reducing the number of standardized tests administered to elementary and middle schools students. There used to be 22 tests given. Now… 17.

And here’s one for the wild. Sunday is no longer a day of rest for wild birds and animals. That law is now repealed and Sunday hunting is now permitted. I guess that means that we need to get the word out to those birds and animals. Perhaps we should stand next to those signs that show where deer know to cross the road.

One last one that impacts the pocketbook. As of midnight, we are now paying 5 cents more per gallon on our gas. Doesn’t taxation feel special! Thanks Governor.

And for pic o’ day, here’s some Wednesday cat dancing:

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The Lawyer Costume

Monday, June 29th, 2015

A man looking through job listings came upon an ad for a job that was available down at the local zoo. He was told that because of funding cuts, the job required that he dress up in a monkey suit and perform in one of the cages.

All went well for several days until he was swinging from tree branch to branch and fell to the ground. He began to call out, “Help, Help!”. In the next cage over the Lion whispered, “Shut up… or we’ll both lose our jobs.”

Costumes are a funny thing. It’s someone hiding behind a disguise to be someone else. When I saw this first Ronald McDonald from 1933, I wondered why anyone would want to be this… or why McDonalds thought that this would be a fun mascot.

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I guess I probably am not a good judge of clown costumes. Not a big clown fan.  This is Willard Scott who supposedly invented Ronald McDonald. He went on to greater heights as the weatherman on The Today Show.

     Ronald  McDonald remains and I remain confused about it…  but I digress.

This brings me to the subject matter… and conclusion of the blog. A few years ago I heard a jury consultant say something about the practice of law that had a profound effect on how I now conduct myself in jury trials.

This consultant said to, “stop acting like a lawyer”. In the initial seminar speech, he basically was telling a group of lawyers to get rid of all the legalese talk and start talking like normal people talk.

Somewhere along the line, lawyers started using terms like whereas and wherefore. We started arguing why for is the word thereforetherefore!

Being real. Not putting on the costume of lawyer. Since that seminar talk, I have followed up with that speaker on some of our cases. I have read some of his books and been directed to other lawyers who speak the same language of being normal.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt left us with some good advice along the same lines.  Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated.

And for pic o’ day, I was going to post something on sincerity and then I saw this… on focus!

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What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

This week during an interview of an applicant, I was asked, “what are you looking for in an attorney?”.

A few years ago I was asked by a  sales manager at a local TV station to speak to their salesforce. I was to talk on the topic of what we were looking for in a person who sold us TV advertising.

In preparation for my morning talk at their station, I asked the manager what he thought were the qualities of a good TV salesperson. He summarized by saying that his group was basically in two sections. Instead of saying the lazy and the workers, he classified them as order-takers and true sales people. As he put it, someone could just show up and take orders for commercials and they would earn a decent living. Those who really made money were the sales people. Those who were not satisfied just to take orders.

An old Chinese proverb says that One dog barks at something and a hundred bark at the sound of his bark. 

Several years ago, a renowned marksman was traveling through the U.S.  He stopped in a small town and saw evidence of amazing target shooting all over the town. On trees, on walls, on fences, and on barns he saw targets with a bullet hole in the exact center of the bull’s eye target.

The marksman determined to find the person responsible for such incredible shooting. When he found him he said, “this is the most incredible shooting that I have ever seen. How in the world did you do it?”. “Easy as pie”, replied the man. “I shot first and drew the circles afterward”.

As I continued interviewing potential candidates this past week for attorney positons, I thought about these various thoughts. What makes a good lawyer? Ultimately, it’s those who stop talking and instead start doing.

And for pic o’ day, here’s a South Carolina TV station who appparently thinks that math has become a problem.

 

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