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Political History

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

It seems that we are already getting bombarded with a lot of Presidential politics on the airways. Television reps have already warned us about our TV spots getting bumped for political ads. And, the presidential candidate debates are about to start. We are entering the political crazy season. And to think… this is how our laws get made.

That brings me to a bit of political/presidential history. There have been four instances where our U.S. Presidents have been related.

Second president John Adams and eighth president John Quincy Adams were father and son.  Ninth president William Henry Harrison was related to our twenty-third president, Benjamin Harrison. They were grandfather and grandson.

Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were cousins. And, of course, you remember the history of our 41st and 43rd presidents…. George H.W. and George W. Bush. Now, will Jeb Bush or Hilary Clinton be added to the family tree?

Does that last sentence make you look like this?

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And for pic o’ day, here’s keeping it simple…

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Ice Cream Under Contract

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Anytime that I can write about ice cream in the blog, it gets me excited. So, when I saw this story from the StarTribune.com, I said, “three scoops please!”.

This is a story about a Minnesota Dairy Queen that refuses to give in to corporate Dairy Queen. Since Warren Buffet’s group owns Dairy Queen, it gives me some personal satisfaction to know that someone says “No” to his rules because a contract allows them to do it.

66-years-ago, the owners of a Moorhead, Minnesota Dairy Queen opened their doors as a restaurant. It shuts down in the winter, has no indoor seating , no drive-thru,  and  their customers stand in line on the sidewalk for their frosty treats, no matter what the weather is outside.

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Despite what the corporate management for Dairy Queen may want, this store still operates under a 66-year-old contract that allows them to dish up old-time treats, as well as corporate-approved items.

While newer Dairy Queens operate under strict corporate guidelines, messaging and menus; the Moorhead shop still operates mostly under the terms of a contract signed in 1949. So, they can serve such items as Mr. Maltie, a chocolate malt on the stick; The Monkey Tail,  which is a chocolate-covered frozen banana; and the famous Chipper Sandwich: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and then dipped in chocolate.

According to the owner who purchased this store in 1995, “If we changed to the new corporate way, virtually all our food items would be gone,”. He was able to continue operating under the 1949 agreement. However, he acknowledges that corporate would like to see them just fade away.

He says that the corporate lawyers have tried to financially encourage him to sign a new agreement but “there just aren’t enough zeros” to dump the extra flavors and the special feeling that the personalized Dairy Queen gives to its customers. How can you argue with a menu item titled “The Curly Shake” which is a shake with a sundae on top.

To me, different is an experience. A contract that must be honored. Plus, I just like to see the term Rogue and Dairy Queen together!

 

And for pic o’ day, procrastination is sometimes my blog writing enemy:

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Doctors Saying “Sorry”

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Several years ago, I handled a medical malpractice claim where a doctor did a back surgery… on the wrong side. The disc herniation was on the right side of the disc and the doctor operated on the left side of the disc. When the patient woke up, he felt fine until the pain medication wore off. Then the medical staff realized that the patient needed to go through another back surgery to fix to still fix his herniation.

The patient waited for six months before he sought legal representation. When I asked him why he delayed seeking representation, he said that he had just been waiting for an apology from the doctor. After the mistake, the doctor never said he was sorry.

In an article written by a University of Illinois law professor Dr. Jennifer Robbennolt titled  Apologies and Medical Error,  Her studies showed that apologies can play a positive role in settling legal cases. The studies showed that when doctors acknowledged an error and said that they were sorry for causing  harm, such admissions helped to decrease patient blame, anger, and decreased the risk of a lawsuit.

The study indicated that patients who file lawsuits are motivated to find out what happened and to prevent future injury. In another study that analyzed medical malpractice claims, the participants noted that 90% of the time, their motive for filing a malpractice case was to prevent the same thing from happening to somebody else and to receive an explanation for what happened.

In another malpractice study where the physicians talked to the patients about the problems, they referred to the malpractice as simply a “complication” or “problem”. They did not say that they made a mistake or were sorry.

In the remaining participants of that study, fewer than half of the surgeons offered some expression of apology or regret and only 8% assured the patient the error would be corrected. Why were they so afraid to admit fault… because of the fear of a lawsuit. This, despite the fact that apologies effect lawsuits.

So far, 36 states have recognized the importance of doctors admitting fault and saying sorry by enacting  apology laws. It allows the doctors to say to their patients that they made a mistake and are sorry, and such apologies are not admissible in any lawsuit that might be still filed.

      Professors  Benjamin Ho of Cornell University and Elaine Liu of the University of Houston wrote a paper based on their studies of malpractice cases,  concluding that:

we find that in the short run the law increases the number of resolved cases while decreasing the average settlement payment for cases with more significant and permanent injuries. Our findings suggest that apology laws reduce the amount of time it takes to reach a settlement in what would normally be protracted lawsuits, leading to more resolve cases in the short run. In the long run, the evidence suggests there could be fewer cases over all.”

Saying I’m sorry… like they used to say in the Orange Juice commercials, “It does a body good”.

And for pic o’ day, the truth about car alarms!

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Behind the Bankruptcy Curtain

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

     When a person files bankruptcy, their personal and financial information becomes public record. Notices are sent to creditors. And, a person must be honest about their finances or run the risk of being charged with bankruptcy fraud.

     With that in mind, I read about the bankruptcy hearing of Curtis Jackson. Curtis Jackson doesn’t mean much to me except that the article described him as 50 Cent.

     Recently, he was hit with a 5 million dollar verdict against him. Now, he claims his assets are less than that, which apparently was the main reason that he filed bankruptcy.

     While testifying in Manhattan Supreme Court, he downplayed his income from record sales claiming that, “I make 10 cents a record,” and then stated that even though he is listed as an executive producer on a TV show, that he’s only earned about $150,000 from each of the first two seasons of the Starz drama Power.

     According to the NY Daily News, Jackson claims that his money and cars are all an illusion and that he always takes them back to the dealership. Even his claim that he made money on the Floyd Mayweather boxing match… all bogus. I guess fake it till you make it would just mean, in his case, fake it.   

     And for our pic o’ day as we head into the weekend…

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Some Random Pic o’s

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

It just felt like a Wednesday for a couple random dog pictures. Or, you can call it Thankful Wednesday… for a short blog!

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An Insurance Comparison

Monday, July 20th, 2015

How did Noah keep up with it? A baby turkey is called a poult. A group of hogs is a herd. A gathering of quail is a covey. A picture is worth a thousand words. (Just seeing if you are really reading)

A group of geese is known as a gaggle. A group of foxes is known as a skunkel. I wonder why they aren’t just called a group of foxes? A baby kangaroo is a joey. And a Koala bear is not really a bear.

When an insurance company does not want to pay a claim, what do you call it?  Just another day at the office. Boom!

And finally… a happy insurance boss said to his employees, “You worked hard this year. As a reward, I am going to give everyone a check for $5,000. If you work real hard this next year… I will sign the checks.”

(Yes, I just decided to write a blog to pick on insurance.)

And for pic o’ day…

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Fitbit and Garmin Discovery

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

In the world of law, discovery of evidence used to be based on basic things like measurements, photographs, witness statements and medical records. Now, it’s not unusual to have discovery include a fishing expedition with a look toward online social media.

Usually, interrogatory questions from each side include discovery of Facebook accounts and whether people have other online messaging that might include a person’s description of life. If a person says that they are hurting and can’t do very much, are they posting pictures of their bowling night? Do you see them posting their picture with a grin… as they jump on their backyard trampoline?

Well, now there’s another possible source of information that may be relevant in a claim.  The Washington Post recently reported on how technology could soon kill the art of lying. “Lies are a fact of life,” the newspaper says. “But technology may soon make them obsolete.”

According to the ABA Journal, “Data from wearable devices is being eyed as evidence in the courtroom”. Lancaster Online tells the story of one criminal case where the defense in a rape case was able to use the tracking of a Fitbit to fight the charge. A woman  said she was asleep when she awoke to find a rapist who assaulted her. The woman’s Fitbit, however, showed that the woman was awake and walking around at the time she claimed to be asleep. Just something to try and create reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind.

Insurance companies are using posted pictures, GPS exercise watches, cell phone GPS discovery and discovery of the identification of friends through social media accounts. This information might help them defend worker’s compensation claims and auto accident injury claims.

Cars now provide data to establish how fast a defendant’s car was traveling at point of impact. Truck drivers might keep two sets of log books to try and fake how long they have been driving. However, now their trucks can establish distance traveled during a specific time, and potentially the speed they travel.

Discovery can tell a story that can refute the defense. It’s part of the reason that I try to encourage people to let us get to work quickly on their claim before information is lost. Maybe try to get that security video footage that may be only available for a short period of time and then erased. On the flip side, insurance companies investigate claims quickly… while they discourage people from hiring lawyers. Pretty savvy on their part.

Still, I never thought that I would see the day when someone’s Garmin or Fitbit would be part of evidence. As one TV show used to say, “The Truth is out there”.

And for pic o’ day, here’s some “photograph discovery”:

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Old Courthouse in St. Louis

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

A bit of Courthouse history. Last week, attorney Kim Raab attended a meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. While she was there, she toured the Old St. Louis County Courthouse that was once considered Missouri’s tallest habitable building between the years of 1864-1894.

While inside, she took these pictures and emailed them.

 

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This Courthouse was the place of the famous Dred Scott case. In 1846, slave Dred Scott filed suit to seek freedom for he and his wife. They had been held as slaves in free states. The case was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 (Dred Scott v. Sandford) . The Court ruled against the Scotts with a finding that, as slaves, the Scotts did not have standing as citizens to sue for their freedom.

Kim sent also took a picture of the instructions that are hanging in the Courthouse. It indicates how Judge Hamilton would have instructed the jury on the law:

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And for pic o’ day…

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Technology versus Old Rules

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

At the Firm, we are constantly trying to upgrade and increase our technology capabilities. Every now and then, I will find something that truly makes me think what it was like in the past.  Here is a “way-back list”. Below is a set of hospital rules from the year of 1870 that instructed nurses on how to care for patients.

Back then, they didn’t have to worry about cell phone use and whether nurses had any texting restrictions. Instead, there were many other items on the list!

 

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In addition to caring for your 50 patients, each bedside nurse will follow these regulations:

1. Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.

2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.

3. Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.

4. The nurse’s notes are important in aiding your physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.

5. Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m., except on the Sabbath, on which day she will be off from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

6. Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.

7. Each nurse should lay aside from each payday a goodly sum of her earnings for her benefits during her declining years, so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month, you should set aside $15.

8. Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.

9. The nurse who performs her labors [and] serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day.

Hard to follow that up but here’s pic o’ day, back to the present:

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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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