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Tis The Season

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

It seems as though every TV ad is about Christmas or the holidays. In fact, I think that someone decided that each commercial should tell me that I need this or put this on, because everyone is wearing it:


The Holidays are here for real! Dave Barry described them as “we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in our own way, by going to the mall of our choice”.

Thomas Munson describes Christmas as “the spirit of giving without the thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values”.

May this holiday season bring you and your family much joy and happiness. I truly wish you a Merry Christmas!

And for our pic o’ day, I decided to include a few “Christmas Lights” pic o’s!





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Constant Holiday Wishes

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

I keep getting emails in my in-box that wish me happy holidays or Merry Christmas. It makes me wonder if they really mean it because it is usually followed by how I can save 20% on a shirt, or how I can buy one sweater… and get three free. Do I really need four sweaters right now?

Those emails just don’t feel real. Plus, it feels like the email is replacing the good old-fashioned Christmas card. Just sayin’.

Anyway, I thought I would do a holiday blog with something that makes me smile:


And then a good old-fashioned “Angry Cat” pic o’ day finish. This sure beats a sale on ties!


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It is a Wonderful Life!

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

One of my favorite holiday movies is It’s a Wonderful Life.   George Bailey goes from wishing he had never been born, to understanding that his positive influence on so many lives would have been terrible, without him. Of course, Clarence the Angel finally gets his wings.

The movie seems like such a perfect story with the perfect ending. In fact, the movie was not initially a blockbuster hit and in fact was initially considered a disappointment. Wikipedia tells us that the movie even caught the eye of the FBI:

On May 26, 1947, the FBI issued a memo stating “With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. [In] addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.

Hard to believe, when we now look back on it. Of course, the fact that the movie is looked upon with such good feelings is a bit like the book that George found inscribed at the end of the movie. It read, “Dear George: Remember no man is a failure who has friends. P.S. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence.”  It is a wonderful life when you have friends!


And for our pic o’ day:

A cat

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Consent to Bad Treatment

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

      You walk into a doctor’s office and they hand you a clipboard and pen. Then, they  ask you to fill out the forms. At the end, you usually find a form called a Consent Form that basically advises you that you are consenting to a whole bunch of stuff when you receive treatment from the doctor.

The big question is whether that consent is binding on you if you sign it. Well, the Virginia Supreme Court, in a dental malpractice case, now tells us that it’s not. You are not consenting to malpractice. The case is styled Fiorucci v. Chinn (McClanahan) No. 131869, Oct. 31, 2014; It originated in the Alexandria Circuit.Court.

The facts of the case showed that during trial, the defendant dentist (through his attorney) sought to introduce the risk of surgery discussion that took place before the dental procedure .

During the trial, the circuit court judge ruled that the risk of surgery discussions between dentist and his patient were not relevant. The Judge would not allow that evidence to be presented to the jury.

The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court judge in ruling that Plaintiff’s awareness of the risks of the extractions was not a defense against his claim that defendant deviated from the standard of care in misdiagnosing the condition of plaintiff’s wisdom teeth or negligently performing the surgery. Evidence of the informed consent discussions was neither relevant nor material to the issue of the standard of care.

The case now affirms that just because we sign that form doesn’t mean that we are saying that we are ok with negligence. Something to think about the next time that they slide that clipboard to you through that little window.

And for our pic o’ day… a bit of medicine:



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Advice From Ask Amy

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

This blog is a little different in that I have basically just pasted an answer from the column Ask Amy. It is a blog written by advice columnist Amy Dickenson. In a recent column, she answered a person who advised her that times were so tough that they would appreciate just receiving money or grocery gift cards instead of gifts or care packages.

The person asking the question did not want to offend gift givers, but she also wanted to know how to best express herself because of her need. This column and question reminded me of the difficulties that many go through during this holiday season.

In my law practice, a day does not go by where a client expresses how difficult it is right now. Sometimes they ask me just to settle their case for whatever I can because they just cannot wait. Of course, it bothers me greatly to see insurance companies take advantage of that.

With that in mind, I paste the following. An answer that made me think.

DEAR OVERLY-GIFTED: Your situation highlights the ongoing problem of hunger in this country. According to the anti-poverty group Feeding America, in 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60) were food insecure. The organization reports that in your home state of New York, 1 in 7 people don’t have enough to eat.

I hope you are doing everything possible to find sources of healthy food in your community. The Feeding America website ( has a pull-down menu listing state-by-state food resources. Many local churches host weekly food giveaways where you can pick up staples. A social worker can work with you to qualify for other benefits, including heating assistance, or help with your medications.

In terms of your generous friends, I think you should express your gratitude, and also do what you can to direct their giving in ways that will be more useful to you.

You can express to them, “Every year you are generous and send me a ‘care package’ at Christmastime. I appreciate it so much. This year, I’m hoping to receive gifts that will help tide me over during the very lean times. I’d really appreciate a grocery gift card or help with my utility bill during these cold months. Regardless of what you choose to do, I know the winter will be less cold, due to your kindness.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting another “on Santa’s lap”.

cat on lap

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Stories That Grab Us

Monday, December 15th, 2014

The first telephone book ever issued contained only 50 names. It was published by the New Haven District Telephone Company in 1878. When I write that, it makes me think of simple times. I can almost concoct a story of what it must have felt like to receive a phone book for the first time… with everyone’s telephone number and name who had a phone!

We all like a good story. In fact, good lawyers always remind that the most persuasive case to a jury is a story; not a bunch of legalese that starts with something like “Whereas” or “Wherefore”.

During my opening in a trial, I usually give some basics to start, and then I say, “Now let me tell you the story about this case”. I can physically see an adjustment in people. A good story. It reminds me of my grandmother reading storybook after storybook to me and me exclaiming, “read it again Grammy, read it again”.

Famous writer Ernest Hemingway would instruct writers on  telling a good story. Then, he would remind them that it didn’t need to be long or descriptive to be a good story. He then proved his point on storytelling when he managed to tell a complete and heart-wrenching story in just six words: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

The power of a story.

And for pic o’ day, some more holiday “joy”.


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Selfies Plus

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

I am in New York City today with an up- and- back flight.    In the meantime, I thought that this “selfie” pic o’ from my Mom was right on point. And, everytime I look at it it makes me laugh.


Which brings me to The Luminary. You can also read it for some hometown feel at  The Paper has a section it calls Peeks of the Past. It’s one of the sections that I always try to read because it reminds me of history as well as some things that never change.

On December 21, 1885, the newspaper noted back then as news that Mrs. S.E. Snook, in an advertisment, calls the attention of the public to her stock of home made Christmas candles, especially clear toys and French mixtures.

Of course, a peek into the past also told us that on December 21, 1877,  the hennery of DeLa Green was was visited by thieves Monday night. Mr Green hastened their departure by pistol shots from his bedroom window. Unfotunately, his aim was faulty.   

In a 1905 edition of The Muncy Luminary, it was noted that Mat Blakeless of this place recently killed two fine hogs. The one dressed 525 pounds and the other 522. Who can beat this? 

And finally, in the December 1917 edition, the community was made aware that William Opp was unfortunate enough on Wednesday to break his right arem when he was struck on the arm while cranking his auto.

There’s something about every day events making the news that grips me. Perhaps it is the reminder of routine that makes it interesting. The interest of life!

And for a Christmas pic o’


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And Then Reindeer Cats

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Yesterday we emailed our December newsletter. It’s an opportunity to talk about the staff and include a favorite recipe. Admittedly, it doesn’t have much legal stuff.

I hope that you already received it in your email in-box. Just in case you didn’t, you can get it here and subscribe for it here.

And finally, to wrap up the blog for a weekend, here’s a couple “Reindeer Cats”.

R-deer Cat 1


Reindeer Cat 2


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Thinking Chocolate

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

In Jim Valvano’s speech that he gave at the ESPY awards in 1993, he told the funny story of giving his first coaching speech to the freshman team at Rutgers University. So, he wanted to really motivate these kids to go out and play a great first game of basketball.

He researched great coach speeches and settled on one that had been given years earlier by Hall-of-Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, who had given his speech as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

So, Valvano looked at his Rutgers freshman players and started into his speech. He really wanted to fire them up!

Gentlemen, we will be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only.  Your family, your religion… and the Green Bay Packers“.

I still get a kick out of that story, whenever I see Jim Valvano’s speech. I always imagine the look on the faces of the entire Rutgers team.  So, let me segue into what some might add to that list of things of importance.

Specifically, it’s also the things that California Representative Nancy Pelosi says that keeps her going and also provides great gifts. That item… chocolate. I guess she would say to focus on “Your family, your religion… and chocolate”. Here’s what the NY Times tells us:

She doesn’t “eat chocolate once per day, but constantly,” Ms. Pelosi said, “It’s an ongoing thing.”

“If there were one food I would have in life, it would be very dark chocolate ice cream,” she said. “If it were not invented, I would have had to invent it.”

Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat, has loved chocolate since her childhood in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore, where she enjoyed parfaits at the corner store and, of course, gelato.

According to the article, Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream is her  favorite. She also keeps plenty of Ghirardelli chocolate squares on hand.

She also tells the reporter, that she keeps chocolates “In the desk, in the purse, readily available at hand,” she said of her stash. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

She also believes in chocolate diplomacy. Speaker John Boehner of Ohio “has given me plenty of delicious chocolate from his district,” she said; noting that she’s a fan of Graeter’s chocolates in Cincinnati.

What does she give Boehner in return? “I’ve sent him a number of things.”

I suspect that Boehner would say that she has given him, “A hard time”.

And for pic o’ day, I thought this was a funny elf on a shelf:

elf on shelf

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Wake Up Running!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

When I hear someone say that they are going to tell an old proverb, it makes me stop and listen. I get the same feeling when I hear the words, “So the story began with”. That leads me to an ancient proverb told in Africa. This is another thought that I came across in organizing and planning for the Firm.

Every morning, a gazelle wakes up with the thought of survival. It must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up.  It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. The morale of the proverb is that every morning when the sun comes up, you’d better be running!


Our pic o’ days come from Debbie K. First, the Northern Lights!

Northern Lights, dk

and then a bit of Christmas!

The Christmas Tree, dk

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