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Legal News Bits

Monday, July 28th, 2014

For this blog, I thought I would post some legal bits. If the topic interests you, click the attachment for the full story.

From Yahoo comes a discussion on why ALL bike riders should wear a helmet.  Plus, it has a funny picture of Kermit and Miss Piggy. As an argument for helmets; in 2010, 70 percent of bicyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. Plus, the article confirms that there are now stylish helmet options that make you believe that wearing a pocket protector is no longer helmet coordinated necessary. (that’s code for looking ”helmet-nerdy”)

The second news story (also Yahoo) is a little disconcerting, because it discusses that many doctors admit that they do their medical research on the Internet. A recent IMS Health report found that Wikipedia is the single leading source of medical information for doctors. In fact, the article recites that 70% of doctors use it as an “information source in providing medical care”. Unfortunately, researchers have shown that 90% of medical information on Wikipedia has been deemed to have some inaccuracy. Hmm.

And for the last story of the blog, Sanford Health just settled a lawsuit that claimed wrongdoing in a kickback scheme by two Sioux Falls, South Dakota doctors. These doctors were performing more spinal implants than any other doctors in the state, by a large margin.

Sanford agreed to pay $625,000 to the federal government to settle the whistleblower lawsuit which claimed that the doctors were paid by a manufacturer to use their spinal implants. The spinal implant, known as the “Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion,” was developed by one of the doctors named in the lawsuit.  (

DID YOU KNOW that Abraham Lincoln grew his beard because he received a letter from eleven-year-old Grace Bedell wrote him to say that he should grow a beard because “All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President”.

And this pic o’ made me laugh:


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Nantucket Remainders

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I know this is off the beaten path of the legal blog; but now that I am back from Nantucket, I can’t help but post a couple of things that humored me along the way. Sometimes it’s the craziest things that get your attention on a vacation.

First, is this dog that was lying on the floor at the Nantucket airport.

Nantucket Dog

The dog seemed totally non-plussed when I knelt down to take his picture. I guess with hair like that, nothing else effects you.

The next picture is taken from a church  that was in the town. The message on this sign made me laugh.

Nantucket church sign


I think  this especially caught my attention because I was raised in churches where a thirty minute service would have been a comedy! This sign also brought back a good memory of my grandfather preaching. At some point in the sermon he would  usually say, “In conclusion”. That normally signaled that he had about 20 more minutes in the sermon. I remember that he would get some grief about that during Sunday lunch… which was always a “big roast beef and mashed potatoes”  type of meal. Such a wonderful childhood memory.

And for pic o’ day, how about a traveling cartoon.


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On Vacation

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Today’s blog has no legal content. The explanation…I am in Nantucket for a couple of days for vacation. So, here’s a picture of me from the hotel. Probably a bit too enthusiastic???


Back on Monday with real “stuff”.

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Bad Driving Habits

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Check out this article from USA TODAY.

Are you guilty of these bad driving habits?


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This is No Game

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

I was sent the following notification from the National Trial Lawyers Network. A settlement involving a game. Not what you expect when you are just trying to have fun!

“A $15 million preliminary settlement has been reached in the data breach class action pending against Sony. If approved, the settlement would see $15 million in games and online currency made available to class members as well as identity theft reimbursement. The lawsuit was brought by PlayStation Network (PSN) users affected by a massive 2011 Sony Corp. data breach.

Eligible class members include all persons residing in the US who had a PlayStation Network account or sub-account, a Qriocity account, or a Sony Online Entertainment account at any time prior to May 15, 2011, when it was revealed that hackers had broken into Sony’s network and obtained data on as many as 31 million account holders.

According to the settlement agreement, Sony will provide affected consumers with “various benefits,” depending on the type of accounts they had and if they can prove that their data was misused, to resolve the dispute over the 2011 breach.

Following the discovery of the data breach, Sony offered its PSN users free identity theft protection, among other benefits. However, under the terms of the settlement agreement any class members who didn’t take that deal can choose two items from a mix of games, online display themes and a three-month subscription to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, with a cap set at $6 million.

For those class members who did take Sony’s initial package, they will receive one of the items, with a cap set at $4 million. Class members who weren’t part of PSN but had accounts for a different Sony gaming service will get $4.50 of in-game currency, with a $4 million cap.

Sony agreed to reimburse up to $2,500 per class member for the identity theft claims, up to $1 million. It also allowed users to transfer any unused online currency into cash and give some class members a one-month subscription to its music streaming service.

Sony customers that fall within the class definition will be automatically bound to the settlement unless they opt out. Class members who wish to opt out from the settlement class have 21 days prior to the date of the final fairness hearing in May to notify the court of their intention to opt-out.”

The name of the case is In re: Sony Gaming Networks and Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 3:11-md-02258, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

DID YOU KNOW that the fear of noise is called akousticophobia? I guess that the enjoyment of quiet is simply called peace of mind.

And for pic o’ day, let’s stay with the game theme:


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The Hidden Agenda

Monday, July 21st, 2014

During World War II, Hitler kept floating information of a planned date for the Invasion of France. Then, that date would pass and nothing had happened. This method of misinformation was repeated many times. Eventually, France and England no longer took the notice of information seriously because of the previous hoax dates. Then one day, Germany did invade France. The misinformation strategy worked for Germany.

Also during the Second World War, the Allies also used their own deception in 1944: Operation Body Guard. The plan contained several components to mislead Germany as to where Europe invasions would occur. It included systematic radio decryptions in sending false messages of landings. Ultimately, the Allies were successful with their tactical surprise Normandy landings (D-Day) which led to the restoration of the French Republic. Germany had been beaten at their own game.

Now, let me get a little political with hidden agenda comparisons.  Two especially get my attention. First, in the insurance industry. It bothers me to see ads that suggest that membership in USAA is something to “pass down” to members. In my world, I see USAA fighting claims for medical payments for their policy-holders. I have blogged about it before but the hidden agenda continues.

Other insurance companies regularly process medical payment coverage. To me, USAA seems to delay and deny instead of making payments. Conversely, they advertise that membership is an asset with a sentimental bend. Their hidden agenda seems to be, to get family members to also pay premiums, while not wanting to pay claims. I would recommend a different insurance company for coverage. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

The second hidden agenda? All the pharmacy companies that advertise drugs that supposedly help with health matters while causing harms. For instance, Vioxx was marketed as a drug for aches and pains and headaches. Then, it became clear that people could suffer strokes. The hidden agenda must have been money instead of health. Yep… my opinion! I could just keep going.

DID YOU KNOW that Pepsi was first known as “Brad’s Drink”? In 1893 Caleb Bradham made the fountain drink at his drug store. Later, it was renamed after its recipe that included pepsin and kola nuts.

And for pic o’ day


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Guzzling the Caffeine

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Somehow, Caffeine drinks have managed to become a fixture in the bar scene to be mixed with alcohol. Here’s an article that connects the dangers of alcohol and these high caffeine drinks.

In somewhat of a related story, Oregon’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the makers and marketers of the energy drink 5-hour Energy of making false, deceptive and unsubstantiated claims about their energy shots. The lawsuit asserts that while the company claims to use “a unique blend of ingredients that provide consumers with the benefits of energy, alertness, and focus…the only significant effect from the product comes from its concentrated dose of caffeine.” Hence, the claim of false advertising.

Oregon is just one of several states currently targeting 5-Hour Energy in a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in Portland, Oregon and names Living Essentials LLC and its parent company, Innovation Ventures LLC, as defendants. (The Oregonian)
Five hour

These two stories are reminders that these are not “just drinks”. Unfortunately, they have been almost excused as a way of life without consequence.



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Lighting up a Warning

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Today I received an investment email notice of stock upgrades and downgrades. In that upgrade list it showed that Raymond James had upgraded the stock of First Republic Bank. On the downgrade list, FIG Partners had issued a downgrade for…First Republic Bank. If you are a stock day trader,  I guess that’s about the time that you stare into your coffee for a special sign.

coffee sign

That brings me to another unusual mixed signal involving medicine, health and cigarettes. Plus, throw in a bit of turf-protecting from Big Tobacco.

Wouldn’t it be an eye catcher if the title of my blog had been “The benefits of smoking”. Yes, in fact there have been some claims that it fights obesity, and some studies have even linked smoking to lower risks of Parkinson’s disease (March 2010 Neurology journal) and possibly an indication that there is less of a chance of that a person would need knee-replacement surgery. (Australian study- July issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism) But, here are the real mixed signals!

During the 1920′s, the American Tobacco Company decided to be aggressive in their advertising for their popular Lucky Strikes cigarettes. ( They used print advertising with an image of a physician and the caption stating that ”20,679 physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating’”. The ad was created by their ad agency after physicians had received free cartons of the cigarettes in the mail from the company, and asked whether Lucky Strikes were less irritating to “sensitive and tender” throats. Part of the advertisement was the proclamation that these cigarettes were a smoother smoke because of the toasting process during the manufacturing of the cigarettes. Yep, “the toasting process”.

In the 1940′s RJ Reynolds Tobacco ran an unusual print ad endorsement.


This ad targeted women and appeared in several magazines including Time and Ladies’ Home Journal.  The intent was to show that if a doctor was enthusiastic about smoking, then it must be OK to smoke. Some doctors were even telling their patients the benefits of relaxation by smoking.

On January 11, 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry announced the findings from the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. The conclusion: there was a link between lung cancer and chronic bronchitis and cigarette smoking.

Prior to this announcement in 1956, Surgeon General Leroy Burney had personally noticed the increase in lung cancer reports. It was particularly steep among smokers. As a smoker himself, he was particularly interested in the harms of smoking. Soon, studies showed what we know today. Burney issued an official statement that “excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors of lung cancer”.

The tobacco industry was furious and fought any kind of warning or statement tying the two together. They funded their own study that denounced prior studies as a manipulation of statistics. Plus, they claimed that the studies were flawed because they lacked human testing with great numbers. The industry was concerned that warnings would shut them down with no sales.

With that as a backdrop, all warnings and statements about the harms of smoking had little impact on cigarette sales. People kept smoking and by 1981, annual cigarette consumption had peaked at 600 billion sold. The mixed signals of the harms of smoking had little effect.  At that time, nearly one in five American adults still smoked cigarettes. People apparently were not listening to the good or bad.

In 2005, tobacco companies entered into a settlement to remove tobacco ads from all school library magazines, as well as other limitations on smoking advertisements. Despite warnings and limitations on advertising, It is still estimated that more than 400,000 people per year still die relating to some illness related to the use of tobacco products. The only clear signal… People will smoke because they choose to smoke. All worries of Big Tobacco were a bit exaggerated.

friday smile

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Paid in Crack!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

     Here’s a lawsuit that has some unique issues. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes a story of a lawsuit (KRQE) filed for damages relating to a drug addiction.

    The lawsuit claims that federal agents paid an addict in crack cocaine for his cooperation in an undercover investigation into a Las Vegas drug operation. According to the lawsuit, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approached the man and bribed him to help with the undercover operation by promising a portion of the drugs obtained during the investigation. The suit claims that “He was  targeted because he was a known drug addict”. 

     The man was later charged with distribution of drugs, but the charges were dropped by federal prosecutors in January. The lawsuit seeks $8.5 million in damages for the loss of love, familial relationships, and companionship caused by the plaintiff’s renewed drug addiction.

     A DID YOU KNOW from the art world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hung artwork from Matisse titled “Le Bateau”. It was hung upside down for 47 days before a student noticed the error.

     And for pic o’ day…



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Behind the Scenes

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Dr. Eugene Shoemaker… does that name sound familiar? I’m guessing not. He is an example of “behind the scenes”.

On July 18, 1997, Eugene Merle Shoemaker was traveling in his 1986 Toyota Hilux on Australia’s Tanami Highway, with his wife as the only passenger. Around 1:20 pm, traveling in the oncoming direction on the other side of the road was a 1992 Toyota Landcruiser, driven by Brian Mark Jennings. Jennings’ passengers were his wife and two young daughters.

As the two cars approached each other, they both were apparently traveling close to the center of the road as they came around a bend. Visibility was unobstructed. Investigation revealed that Jennings moved to the left side of the road to apparently avoid the oncoming Shoemaker car. At the same time, Shoemaker moved to the right, which would have been the correct move if he had been traveling in the United States, where he normally drove. Instead, the two cars crashed into each other.

While passengers suffered injuries, only one person was killed, Eugene Shoemaker. Born in 1928 and died in 1997. But that is neither the beginning nor end of the story.

Now the beginning of the Shoemaker story. He received his Ph.D. degree at Princeton in 1960 where he studied the impact dynamics of a Meteor Crater. That led him to become a pioneer in the field of astrogeology by founding the Astrogeology Research Program for the U.S. He then became a possible candidate for the astronaut program, with a good chance to be the first geologist to walk on the moon.

During a physical, it was discovered that he was disqualified from the astronaut program because he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal gland. From that point forward, he worked behind the scenes to help the space program. After that diagnosis, he channeled his efforts into training others in getting to outer space, and even served as a commentator with Walter Cronkite during live coverage of Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.

In 1965, he was awarded the Wetherill Medal from the Franklin Institute because of his achievements in Science. He later advanced studies in asteroids and their effect on geologic changes and later received the National Medal of Science in 1992 because of his co-discovery of a comet that crashed into Jupiter and caused a massive scar. Until that time, it was thought that such an event could not occur.

Shoemaker spent his later years continually searching for previously unnoticed or undiscovered craters around the world. Such study brought him to Australia in 1997 and to that fateful night in July. Throughout his entire life, he never let the disappointment of being unable to go to the moon hold him back in his continual quest for more space advancement and his desire to train astronauts about craters.

Following his death, his discoveries and studies continue to inform our space program today. On July 31, 1999, some of his ashes were placed in the Lunar Prospector and carried to the moon. The purpose of that launched space probe was an attempt to learn if there was water on the moon. To this day, he is the only person whose ashes have been buried on the moon.

I am aware that some Firm employees worked until after 8 pm last night. On the way in this morning, I asked one of our lawyers why she had worked so late. “I was working on a memorandum”, she said.

The client will probably never know about the hard work and late hours of that lawyer. Hopefully, the thanks will come in the form of a great result. The lawyer, behind the scenes, made a late-night contribution because it just needed to be done.


And for pic o’ day, a bit of disguise!


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