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Trusting the Doctor

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Dr. Custer was trying to tell us what might be important for an upcoming Bible test. Since we were a class of a bunch of ninth-graders, I am not sure that I can even imagine the expressions on our faces. Then he told us to remember what “walking circumspectly” was describing.

There are many things that I do not remember from school. I still remember the lesson on “walking circumspectly ”. Dr. Custer told us it was “walking with eyes in the back of your head”. Then, he physically demonstrated as though he was walking with eyes in the back of his head. Like the old saying, “be alert… we need more lerts!”.

That memory came to mind when I saw a Washington Post story about a trial that was scheduled to start on Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. It also was a reminder that just because a person has Dr. in front of their name does not mean that they are not susceptible to greed and fraud.

Dr. Amir Bajoghli, owner of Skin & Laser Surgery Center, has been charged with 60 counts of fraud that involved his patients who were seen and treated between the years of 2009-2012. According to his indictment, he also billed insurance companies for surgeries that he did not perform. In addition, it is alleged that he had unlicensed and unqualified medical assistants to close wounds and perform skin grafts while unsupervised.

In fact, Dr. Bajoghli had been named as one of the regions “Best of”, when considering top dermatologists in the area.  He also had multiple offices throughout Virginia and the surrounding D.C. area.

The prosecutors intend to prove that this doctor performed unnecessary surgeries and also was intentionally misdiagnosing his patients with skin cancer. Not only profiting in his billing by intentionally providing insurance codes that allowed him higher reimbursement, but also scaring his patients by  telling them they falsely needed treatment for their skin cancer . Mostly, he was telling elderly people that “you have skin cancer and I have to operate (cut it off or out)”.

Pair that alleged fraud with the charge that he improperly billed and received $31,000 for procedures that were done improperly by a nurse practitioner or assistant.

Because I regularly see a dermatologist, I think that this kind of charge and trial hits close to home. Isn’t it true that we want to trust our doctors and in fact need to trust them? Hence, the reminder of the need of ”walking circumspectly”.

We basically have to have eyes in the back of our head today. It’s also why I don’t get excited about “Best of” lists. Instead, there is nothing like a personal referral. I gladly tell anyone to go see my dermatologist. It also reminds me of those Hotel commercials with “Captain Obvious”, who says that you should read the reviews of someone who has actually stayed in the room instead of a review from someone who was paid to write it . That really does seem obvious.

DID YOU KNOW that the Internet was originally called the ARPANet? (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network designed by the U.S. Department of Defense)

And for our pic o’ day, here’s a nod toward decisions for Halloween costumes:

Costume

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Some Firm News

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

     I am sitting in a make-shift office right now because construction is being done on my personal office (Richmond). Nearby, work is being done on our computers, because we have also added additional upstairs space. Several attorneys and staff are now on the second floor. It is as they say, “a lot of moving parts”.

     It just seemed appropriate to post the following for pic o’ day: 

Profe

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A Different Legal Standard

Monday, October 20th, 2014

On Monday, IBM stock shares fell $13.06 per share after posting weak earnings results. Because Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owned 70.2 million shares, that meant a paper loss of almost a billion dollars. All that before even making it to lunch.

That is definitely the world of the 1%. Where such a loss would evoke the kind of response that he probably uttered, “it’s not a loss until you sell”. Of course, there’s also the saying, “bulls and bears make money while greedy pigs get slaughtered”.  All of it stands for the premise of different standards. He is on the rich side of the tracks.

I was also reminded of that when I read that Facebook is now suing four law firms. The lawsuit stems from the four law firms having represented claimant Paul Ceglia in 2010.

Ceglia had founded previous internet companies and was now claiming an ownership of 84% of Facebook. According to Ceglia, (Wiki) he and Mark Zuckerberg had made an agreement relating to the formation of the website that gave him gradual ownership of the company. He even presented evidence of such an agreement.

Later, it was determined that Ceglia had fabricated the information. That was only the beginning of his legal troubles which also included being arrested for possession of Psilocybin. Basically, “he was doing mushrooms”.

Now, Zuckerberg has filed suit against those four law firms who brought the original lawsuit on behalf of Ceglia’s fabricated interest.

Here’s the rub for me. No one is saying that there should be a damage cap for Zuckerberg’s lawsuit. No one is claiming that he is filing a frivolous lawsuit. No one is complaining that he is clogging up the court system and that he should be perfectly satisfied with the money that he has.

That’s the double standard. If this had involved a fact pattern of being rear-ended by another car while sitting still at a red light, Somehow it should have limits or would be considered frivolous by some. The different legal standard… it can get me riled up!

And for pic o’ day, speaking of being riled up:

marshmellow

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Some Courthouse History

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

As I made my way up the Welch County courthouse steps, local counsel met me at the top and asked whether I had seen the bullet holes. “The bullet holes?”, I asked. He then pointed to the side of the courthouse where one of those gray history signs was standing.  The attorney told me that he would show me when we finished court.

I then walked into a courtroom that looked like something from a movie set. It had the dark wood and plenty of seating. Years ago, people did not watch TV for entertainment; they went to the courthouse to watch cases. This courthouse had plenty of seating, which hearkened back to those days.

We finished up our hearing, which included several motions and a setting of the upcoming trial. Then, we walked outside to the side of the building. That’s when I learned the story of Chief-of-Police Sid Hatfield. (Wiki)

William Sidney “Sid” Hatfield (who is listed as distantly related to William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfiled, leader of the Hatfield clan of the Hatfield/McCoy fame ) was born in 1843. He had a reputation for hard living and fighting, and was a surpise appointment as Police Chief of Matewan by Mayor Testerman, in 1919.

As a defender and supporter of the United Mine Workers of America who had unionized all the coal miners, he used his office in leading a resistance against Baldwin-Felts operatives. Baldwin-Felts had sent representatives to the town to evict minors and even offered Hatfield and Mayor Testerman bribes, so that they could station machine guns in the town. Both refused the bribes. The coal mine owners would cheat the minors at the scales by paying them less than the entitled weight payment for the coal.  They also decided that they wanted to break up the union by getting rid of minors who had joined.

These Baldwin-Felts detectives were basically a private police force that had some U.S. Government sanction for their actions. They were supposed to keep things from getting out of hand for the coal mine owners. Against them stood Hatfield. (Here is more of the history of the two sides here)

In the Battle of Matewan which stemmed from those hostilities, the Mayor was killed. Thereafter, Hatfield married his widow which led to the accusation that Hatfield had some responsibility in the killing of the Mayor. The battle gave Hatfield some celebrity including a part in a short film. In that battle, Albert and Lee Felts were killed which led to a desired vengence for their death.

Thomas Felts sought revenge for the death of his brothers. Unrelated to that battle, Hatfield and his deputy, Edward Chambers, were set to stand trial for conspiracy charges on another matter. Probably part of revenge for not taking the side of the coal mine owners.

Both men arrived at the Welch courthouse on August 1, 1921, with their wives. History records that they were both unarmed.  That’s where several Baldwin-Felts men were waiting for them. They shot them on those courthouse steps.

Hatfield was shot in the arm and multiple times in the chest. He died instantly. Chambers was shot several times and ultimately shot in the head. All this took place right in front of their wives. None of the “detectives” were ever charged with a  crime, as they all claimed that they shot the men in self-defense.

Today, the bullet marks remain. Also, there was an Oscar-nominated 1987 movie titled Matewan starring David Strathairn as Sid Hatfield. I left the courthouse thinking… not your everyday courthouse!

 

And for pic o’ day we have a bit of a battle with a clear winner:

 

 

chihuahua

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Business Cat

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

I am in West Virginia for a case and did not get a blog written. I feel like like “business Cat” is demanding my blog and I have let him down!!!

Business Cat

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An Idea… or Not

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The following was sent to me from my Mom. It made me laugh. However… no cats were harmed in the production of this blog. And of course, to all cat lovers… I realize that this is not funny!

How to wash a cat
1.  Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the  bowl…… 

2.  Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

3.  In one smooth movement put the cat in the toilet and close the lid. You may need to stand on the  lid.

4. At  this point the  cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never  mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this! 

5.  Flush the toilet three or four times. This  provides a ‘Power-Wash’  and ‘Rinse’.

6.  Have someone open the front door of your home.  Be sure that there are no people between the  bathroom and the front door. 

7.  Stand well back, behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift the  lid.

8.  The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he  will dry himself  off.

9.  Both the toilet and the cat will be sparkling clean.

washed cat

 

Yours  Sincerely,

The Dog
The Dog

Just another legal blog!!!

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Noah’s Ark Lessons

Monday, October 13th, 2014

While I was recently looking for obscure facts for the “Did You Know” section, I found didyouknow.org. That’s where I also found Lessons from Noah’s Ark that made me think a bit. Here are those lessons:

1. Don’t miss the boat.

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.

3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

6. Build you future on high ground.

7. Speed isn’t always an advantage; the snails also made it to safety.

8. For safety sake, travel in pairs.

9. When you’re stressed, float a while.

10. Remember, the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

11. No matter the storm, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

See: Lessons from Noah’s Ark

And for our DID YOU KNOW, I am also combining it with our pic o’ day.

The heaviest cat on record was a tabby cat named Himmy, who weighed in at a svelte 46 pounds/ 15 ounces. That seemed applicable to our blog today because I wonder if Himmy would have counted as “two” for the ark.

Hummi

 

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Law and Proverbs 23:4-5

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Proverbs 23: 4-5 has two opposites. The Bible tells us in these verses:

4. Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

     5.  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Now, how do you compare those two verses? Does it sound like those new Directv commercials with Rob Lowe? You know, the ones where Rob Lowe is playing multiple parts. In one, he tells you not to be like the creepy Rob Lowe and you are thinking, “But both Rob Lowes are creepy”. Hard to tell the difference?

These verses basically tell us to react to the circumstances Sometimes we ignore the fool. Other times we challenge.

Sometimes, I think that the practice of law is a bit like that. Not the “answer a fool part”. Instead, each case is a little different. There is no special equation or chart to rely on for every circumstance. I feel it’s a little like life. Prepare, React and Adapt.

In facing the circumstances, Coach Bear Bryant said that, “You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him to a heavy load”. Facing the circumstance! And, that’s my Monday blog of metaphors!

DID YOU KNOW that the expression sweating like a pig is actually not true. Pigs can’t actually sweat. Another of those opposites.

And for pic o’ day, here’s a good speller:

Speller

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Friday’s This and That

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Geoff and I are headed up to Baltimore for the Orioles game tonight. I am sure that we will discuss some case business in the car. That makes it a business trip that just happens to contain some baseball… right???

So, that tells you that I am probably a bit weak on blog thoughts. Those are the best times to reach into the notebook and pull out some pic o’s that have recently been sent to me. First, we go with the obligatory Friday:

Paws up

 

Then,  a bit of plotting always makes me laugh:

Plotting

    And finally, some persistence:

Persistence

I hope you have a great weekend. If you wander to the Orioles game on TV, you might see Geoff and I behind the Orioles dugout “talking business”!

 

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The Myth or Fact of Aunt Jemima

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

USA Today titles it Pancake flap: ‘Aunt Jemima’ heirs seek dough. For me, it makes for interesting reading and also makes me hungry for pancakes.

That’s the teaser to this story about a lawsuit recently filed in Chicago by two great-grandsons who claim that they are heirs to an entitled fortune from Nancy Green. Born a slave in 1834 in Kentucky, Nancy Green was known at Aunt Jemima. In fact, her heirs claim that she was responsible for the recipe for these magical pancakes. Aunt J

I feel a little guilty just attaching the story for you to read because a recent commenter to one of my blogs claimed that I was attaching too many articles… and that did not make it a blog. Still, if you read the story, you will learn about pancakes; the denial of Quaker Oats; and the recipe and recipe additions. Yep… that should count as a blog, even if it is just in the food category!

And for pic o’ day… a bit of fear:

thunder

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