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Traffic Ticket Thoughts

Friday, September 25th, 2015

How about a short blog on traffic tickets for the weekend?

A while back, CNBC posted an article titled Three big misconceptions about auto insurance. Titled just like that! So, I clicked on it to see the misconceptions.

The CliffsNotes  (Glad that a man named Cliff Hillegass started his notes!)version of the article would probably note three things from this study done by I suspect that’s also code for “click here for an article while we give you a quote”.

The three things:

1. Wealthier drivers get more tickets.

2. Younger drivers are riskier and get more tickets than older drivers. (I think Captain Obvious came up with that. Although, maybe wealthy, younger drivers really get more!)

3. Once a driver is in their 30′s,  insurance premiums are less likely to rise after a ticket.

Nothing unusual except that tickets and insurance do not mix well for premiums.


I hope you have a great “First Fall” Weekend!


And for our weekend pic o’… here’s another from my Mom! (For Mom’s sake, I was rooting for the Redskins last night.  Not good)



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Johnny Cab… It’s Electric

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

I was watching CNBC as they began to discuss rumors that Apple was working on introducing cars to the market. The host of the show was interviewing an analyst about the possible news. A picture flashed on the screen of CEO Tim Cook, as he appeared to be climbing out of a car.

The analyst went on to say that maybe Apple would introduce an electric car to the market in a matter of weeks. He indicated that maybe Apple had been secretly getting it ready to compete with Tesla and their electric cars. Then, he mentioned that the cars might be even “driverless”.

A few days later, Apple announced that they expected to start delivering electric cars in 2019. (Wall Street Journal) They did add that these cars will require a driver, but should be compatible with its other products.

Right now, there are cars that can assist you in parallel parking. When I heard that analyst on Apple, I wondered what personal injury would be like with a bunch of cars on the road… without drivers.

I remember an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Total Recall, where you could jump into a waiting taxi called Johnny Cab. IMG_0309

In the movie, the writers summed up a car “without a driver”.


  • Johnny cab: Hello I’m Johnny cab, where can I take you tonight?
    Doug Quaid: Drive, drive!
    Johnny cab: Would you please repeat the destination?
    Doug Quaid: Anywhere, just go, GO!
    Johnny cab: Im not familiar with that address, would you please repeat the destination?

So, I guess I should also wonder if Johnny Cab has insurance. Yes… the future is in the future! Does that sound like Yogi Berra?

And for pic o’ day, here is some happiness:


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The Egg Shell Head

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

It’s been called “the pain of being a redhead”.  According to research studies (Here), people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia during medical procedures. In addition, there’s evidence that redheads are resistant to the localized pain blocker Novocain. An extension to that finding is the statistic that redheads are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist… as other hair colors.

I know that the following scientific reasoning for hair color is a bit mind-numbing. Have you ever heard someone say that it was like looking into the eyes of Medusa and that they just couldn’t look away? Well, this is just the opposite. So, to skip boring gene stuff, skip the next paragraph.

If you decided not to skip…. the reason for hair color having bearing on response to anesthesia is based on our genes. People with brown, black and blond hair have the gene for the melanocortin-1 receptor that produces melanin. Conversely, the MC1R gene causes the production of a substance called pheomelanin which causes red hair and fair skin.

I read that “gene stuff” in several articles and wrote it down for the blog. All I know is, that it has nothing to do with Wrangler or Levi. But, the gene composition has to do with how we react to anesthetics. Which leads us to the concept of taking a person as you find them in the consideration of injuries caused by someone’s fault.

In car crash cases, the jury receives instruction on the law from the judge. In cases where a person had some prior problems, physical conditions, or a accident. It’s not unusual that there was evidence of preexisting conditions. So, the judge will read the following instruction to the jury:

If you find that the plaintiff had a condition before the collision that was aggravated as a result of the collision or that the pre-existing condition made the injury he received in the collision more severe or more difficult to treat, then if you find your verdict for the plaintiff, he may recover for the aggravation and for the increased severity or difficulty of treatment, but he is not entitled to recover for the pre-existing condition

This jury instruction is sometimes called the “Egg Shell Head” instruction. Much like Humpty-Dumpty who sat on the wall. If someone pushed him off the wall, they cannot then argue that they are not be responsible for Humpty’s injuries after  “all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Humpty together again”.IMG_0308

In a civil lawsuit for damages from a car crash, a defendant takes a person as they find them. We are all different, just as we all have different pain thresholds. A person must be responsible for whatever they cause, and cannot argue some weakness of the injured person as a defense. They are only responsible for what they cause or aggravate.

An aggravation of a preexisting injury or condition is really what happens in many cases as the client gets older and has dealt with the realities of life.


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The Next FDA Commissioner

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Conflict or Qualified? The NY Times just did a story on the recent Presidential nominee to head the FDA. The title of the article tells the summary of the story, F.D.A. Nominee Califf’s Ties to Drug Makers Worry Some.

The article starts out with a meeting in May 2014, and presentation that Dr. Robert M. Califf gave to a group of biomedical researchers,  pharmaceutical lawyers and industry experts.

His PowerPoint slides showed the importance of speeding up the pace of biomedical innovation by transforming research. Near the end of the presentation, one slide was put up that indicated one barrier to that pace: Regulation.

At the time, no one reacted to that one slide. Now, it has garnered some attention because this Cardiologist/nominee will potentially be the “Police Chief” of medications that get approved and make it to our pharmacies.

He is a renowned clinical researcher who is unquestionably qualified to lead the agency. On the other hand, he will be in charge of an agency that regulates what is responsible for about a quarter of every dollar that we spend.

This agency is now facing such issues as whether/how to regulate electronic cigarettes. Dr. Califf’s previous job was heading up Duke University’s research center, which received more than 60% of its funding directly from pharmaceutical companies. Does that make him too close to them and create a conflict; or does his familiarity with the industry make him more qualified to regulate it.

Dr. Califf personally received $215,000 as a consultant from drug companies from 2009-2015. As a side note, several years ago Frank Luntz did research on the term drug companies and advised them to start calling themselves pharmaceutical companies. Drug Company sounded bad to the public. More on that in his book Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.

“Pharmaceutical Companies” have always been known to have great ties to government while employing powerful lobbyists. In 2002, the Homeland Security Act that we all knew was going to make us safe as it was signed into law… also contained a provision buried deep in the legislation that protected Eli Lilly and a few other big drug companies against  lawsuits by parents who believed that there children had been harmed by thimersol.


    So, the question really remains, when is regulation protective and when is it too restrictive? Let’s hope that Dr. Califf knows the balance. As one professor who worked with him observed, “How does he think? We won’t know until we see how he behaves.”



And for pic o’ day, a bit of surveillance:


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Brain Injury in Football

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Yesterday while watching an NFL game, I saw a referee stop play and make a offensive lineman leave the game. The official believed that the lineman had taken a hit to the head; so he was escorted to the sideline for a concussion screening.

Last week in another game, I saw a player get hit in the head during a tackle. He got up slowly and the game announcers noted that doctors were escorting him to the sideline. They went on to explain that an independent doctor unrelated to the team would assess the player for concussion symptoms, and make a determination whether he could go back in the game.

Both of these events are new to the NFL. With attention being given to head injuries, a blow to the head is no longer just ”getting your bell rung”.

A Hollywood film titled Concussion starring Will Smith, follows the true story of Bennet Omalu. In 2005 he  shocked the football world and especially the NFL by reporting his study in the journal Neurosurgery that detailed his discovery of the disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He based his findings on what he had found while reviewing a scan of the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike Webster. The article is aptly title “The Autopsy That Changed Football”  

This clinical pathologist thought that the NFL would be receptive to his findings. Instead, he says that he was made to feel “like he was practicing Voodoo”.

A recent study of 87 of the 91 brains of former NFL players tested by researchers with the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University, showed that they tested positive for that same disease that had been found in Mike Webster’s brain: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),  In other words, 95.6 percent of former NFL players who had passed away had brains damage that proved that they had been suffering from a disease that has been linked to dementia, depression and even the suicides of several Hall of Fame players.

For years, the NFL fought to disassociate itself from accepting that there is a relationship of football trauma to brain injuries. In fact, the NFL formed a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee  to issue an opinion that no NFL player had experienced chronic brain damage from repeat concussions. And in that same Frontline documentary mentioned above, the committee stated that “Professional Players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis”.

That committee was disbanded in 2008. Fortunately, even the general public knows better. Now, the focus is on safety and recovery. However, I still think that the NFL does not necessarily accept responsibility.


And for pic o’ day, a bit of customer service:


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Friday Collection

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

     Sometimes when I sit down to write Friday’s blog, I get distracted on some other things. Then… the blog turns into collection. This is one of those “Sometimes”.  Some “pic o’s” that were sent to me:










     I  am headed to Raleigh for a family member’s birthday dinner tonight, and then a friend’s wedding tomorrow. I hope you have a great weekend!

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Rex Harrison Reminder

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

I had not thought of Rex Harrison for a while; Until I received an email that was titled “Sad News”. It included an obituary for  William “Rex” Harrison, Jr  (Here)   That set my mind in motion and brought back some life reminders.

I don’t remember exactly when I first met Rex, but I was introduced to him after he opened up his restaurant/nightclub. I had only been practicing law in Virginia for a short time.

Rex was a big imposing man with a smile that could impact a room. He dressed “to the nines”. In fact, I asked him about his suits because they made such an impression. He told me where he bought his suits.  Soon, I was in a Hugo Boss blue pinstriped suit, just like he wore.  I couldn’t believe that I had spent $500 on a suit, but it made me feel like a million. I remember him telling me, “that’s a sharp looking suit!”.

I guess I didn’t need to be reminded that looking good can help you feel good. Reminder One!  Fortunately, I didn’t have buyer’s remorse over the purchase of that suit. He told me that it would be good for business. He proved it.

Soon, he had me doing some legal work. I wasn’t doing anything major because he already had a corporate attorney. However, he would turn over work  to me that his corporate attorney probably was not interested in doing. Which leads me to the second life reminder.

He contacted me and asked if I would help with a credit card issue. One night, one of the patrons had paid his bill of about $250 or so, and added a $500 tip. Maybe one of those “a drunk fool and his money shall soon part”.

At the end of the night when the waitresses cashed out, they would also receive their tips for that night. Some happy waitress had walked out with a $500 tip that was advanced by Rex’s business, until they received the transfer payment from the credit card company. Can you guess what happened next? Exactly!

“Fool-500-Tipper” woke up the next morning and contested the charge on his American Express bill. So, American Express put a hold on the payment to the restaurant… who had already given the $500 tip to the waitress.

I was hired to make a phone call and write a letter to get American Express to make good on the charge. I guess the cardholder was claiming that he had been “over served” and that it wasn’t his fault that he had left such a large tip.

I think that American Express only offered to transfer  a $100 credit to the business instead of the full $500. As a young zealous lawyer, I was ready to file suit in General District Court. Here’s where the life reminder occurred.

Rex told me to just accept the $100 and be done. As he put it, his restaurant needed American Express as a form of payment, more than they needed his restaurant. So, we let it go and accepted the $100. The restaurant was out $400. Rex saw the big picture.

His obituary includes the following message, “Our hearts are broken, but we are relieved that he is pain-free and at peace with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A reminder of what is really important.

The obituary concludes with, “He routinely doled out nicknames and laughed before the punch line of his silly jokes. His laugh was infectious and we were all lucky just to know him”.

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Week One in the Books

Monday, September 14th, 2015

The National Football League has just completed its first full week of games. Some teams sit at the hopeful 1-0, while others are 0-1 and telling reporters that it’s a marathon not a sprint. As a Colts fan, I’m glad that week one does not decide who will be in the playoffs.

In professional basketball (NBA) the same thing is true except that teams play 82 games versus the NFL’s 16 game regular season. In 1978, the Washington Bullets faced a difficult task throughout the playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Bullets and the San Antonio Spurs, the Bullets fell behind in the best-of-seven series 3-1. All San Antonio needed to do was win one more game and advance to the finals. The Bullets coach, Dick Motta, overheard a broadcaster talking about the series, which caused Motta to tell his team, “The opera ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

Sure enough, the Bullets came back to win the series, advance to the NBA championship, and ultimately beat the Golden State Warriors to become NBA champions. Throughout, their mantra remained the same with many Bullet fans wearing t-shirts bearing that slogan.

Which brings me back to football and the Colts. In 1955, Pittsburgh Steeler coach Walt Kiesling called quarterback Johnny Unitas into his office to tell him that he was going to be cut from the roster because, “I’m sorry, but we can’t use you.”

Just three years after being cut by the Steelers and having to play semi-pro ball until he could get back in the NFL, Unitas was playing quarterback for the Baltimore Colts. In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, he passed for 322 yards to lead the Colts to a championship over the New York Giants. Later, he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Vince Lombardi gave good life advice about difficulties in life. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”

I regularly see clients who have gotten knocked down by an event like a car crash. I also am challenged personally as I see them get back up,  and while not letting difficulty stop them.

And for pic o’ day, this is dedicated to those who can’t put their phones down.


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Brooks Robinson For 150 Please

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Reporters wrote that Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson visited the Baltimore Oriole locker room on Saturday, with his son and grandson. Several players hugged him as he walked around the locker room. A life long iconic former Oriole player who still means a lot to the organization. He spent his entire 23-year baseball playing career with the Orioles.

During that period he won 16 yearly Gold Glove Awards as the best fielding American League third baseman. Oriole fans probably remember him most from his amazing play in the 1970 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .429 in that series with 2 homerun.  But, he really remembered for his amazing defensive plays at third.

At the time, Reds manager Sparky Anderson could not get over the impact the Robinson’s defense had on the series. As he put it, “I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first”.

In 2011, he was honored for his great fielding by being voted as a member of the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team. If you go to Camden Yards to see the Orioles play, you can find a statute of Brooks that depicts him throwing out a runner at first. When he was asked about being honored with a statue, he smiled and said that, “it gave him more hair than he deserved”.

I remember reading Brooks: Biography of Brooks Robinson, when I was a kid. It’s why I titled the blog like a category in Jeopardy.

In his biography, players reflected on how Brooks came to be so good at fielding. Multiple former players and teammates reflected on the fact that every day, he would field 150 ground balls. He’d work on short hops, back-hands, slow rollers and anything that he could imagine that might be hit to him during a game.

Former manager for the Orioles and the Nationals, Davey Johnson, also played with Brooks. He noticed that every day before the game, Brooks’ uniform would already get dirty before the game would even start; Just from practicing and diving for batted practice balls.  Johnson asked him, “Why do you take so many grounders when you already have all those Gold Gloves?”  Brooks replied, “Because I want to get another, and the only way to do it is work at it.”

That’s a good reminder for how to get better in whatever we do! In my law practice, trials can be long and demanding. However, the real work is in the months leading up to the trial. Fortunately, at least I get to wear a clean suit to the courtroom!!!


And for pic o’ day… all about looking good!


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News Bits

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Sometimes I see news stories that I tuck away for a blog. Then I think to myself, what a wonderful world… or something like that song, but not related to these stories. But,  I think that these news reports deserve a blog.  Sometimes, I can even keep from making a comment.

In the world of fake Tiffany,  we travel to a story about Costco. (Reuters) Tiffany & Co. has filed suit against Costco Wholesale Corp for selling counterfeit diamond engagement rings with the Tiffany name.  Costco filed an answer claiming that Tiffany’s trademarks were invalid because they should be able to use the term Tiffany as a generic description of the type of ring setting.

How did the judge respond to that argument. Predictably, the same way you have reacted. Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Manhattan wrote, “Despite Costco’s arguments to the contrary, no rational finder of fact could conclude that Costco acted in good faith in adopting the Tiffany mark”.  Now, it’s just a question of how much Costco must pay in damages.

Next, an article from, here are 14 Reasons to Stop Drinking Mountain Dew. It includes a concern over bromine poisoning, which also happens to be in bleached white flour. The preservatives and dye; and of course, the dental effects are among the reasons.

And the final news story for this blog really also asks the question, “what is it worth in damages?” From The Columbus Dispatch comes a story of a family who arrived at the funeral and realized that someone other than their sister was in the casket. The funeral home had mixed up the bodies and dressed the person in the sister’s clothing. And… the story gets worse if you want to read more here. Suit has been filed.

And for pic o’ day, I think that Will Farrell’s “Hall-of-Fame” plaque that he received for playing during spring training is a self-explanatory laugh.



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