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Archive for Trip and Fall

The Neighborhood

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

      I am at the Virginia Beach office today. That partially explains this shorty blog.

      I also admit that this is a backwards blog. I posted the pic o’ day and then the thought came to me. We have several claims involving neighbors. Usually, that involves a dog bite or some kind of dangerous condition that was created. All said, none of them are funny… except this one!


neighbor cat


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“Better Call Saul” Advertising

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Does the name “James M. McGill” sound familiar? Well, unless you are a huge  TV fan of the show Breaking Bad, it probably means nothing to you. In fact, even if you are a fan, that would be a Jeopardy-like trivia memory to recall that name. Here’s where it gets fun.

Currently there is a billboard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that is advertising the legal services of James M. McGill. It features a picture of actor Bob Odenkirk, who played lawyer Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad. During one of the series’ episodes, the character of Goodman mentioned that he had changed his name from Jimmy McGill.

The billboard appears to be an ad/publicity stunt for the new Breaking Bad spinoff called Better Call Saul, which will premiere in 2015. The billboard also features phone number 505-842-5662.

In fact, the phone number is a working number. If you call it, a voice that has a bit of an English accent says the following message, “Hello! You’ve reached the law offices of James M. McGill Esquire, a lawyer you can trust. Kindly leave your information at the tone and Mr. McGill will phone you promptly.” Then, you hear the usual message beep with an opportunity to leave a message. A pretty creative ad campaign!

DID YOU KNOW that Harvard professor, Michael Norton, has studied money and happiness and concluded that money can buy happiness… when spent on others?

And pic o’ day

Tennis balls

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Overcoming the Emotion of Revenge

Monday, June 23rd, 2014


Strength for the Journey pointed me to the story of DeForest Soaries who faced great adversity growing up. At one point, a gang of five took him to a vacant lot, dragged him out of the car, and put a gun to the back of his head. It was going to be a  drug-related shooting. Just as they were about to shoot him, one of the gang saw a police car.

Concerned that the policeman would hear the gun shot, they dragged him back to the car. Nearly five hours later, their “gang boss” told them to let him go. The five threatened that they would come back later to get him.

Years past by, but DeForest never forgot that day and his brush with death. Fortunately, he went to college and also made room for God in his life. He did not allow the emotion of revenge to set him back. He did not worry about the five returning.

The story of DeForest Soaries continued as he got a bachelor degree, Masters and a Doctor of Divinity. In fact he has also received five honorary Doctorate degrees from other institutions. He has served as Secretary of State in New Jersey. He is now the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

In the story of his life, he says that a time came when he saw the man that had held the gun to his head. He saw him after finishing up a speaking engagement. Instead of running, he went up to the man and hugged him. He had no revenge in his heart.

Recently, I was discussing a client’s damages from a crash. At one point, he interrupted me when we talked about the concept of mental anguish. He told me that he did experience emotional ups and downs but that he did not hold any anger against the driver that had caused his injuries. When I heard the story of Soaries, I was reminded of that client. He was not going to be held prisoner to the emotion of revenge. Instead, he was focused on getting better and moving on.

Josh Billings said that “there is no revenge so complete as forgiveness”. Douglas Horton reminds us that “while seeking revenge, dig two graves…one of them for you”.

DID YOU KNOW that Cinderella’s slippers were originally made out of fur until the story was changed in the 1600′s by a translator? I guess that’s where the expression comes from, “I love your fur slippers.” Wait… I’ve never heard that expression.

And for pic o’ day, a timely one on Facebook:


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Comparing the Years

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I have written a few blogs about age. That included the discussion of introducing evidence to a jury to consider a client’s life expectancy. Some even told me that they went to Virginia Code Section 8.01-419  just to see how long  Virginia law says that they are supposed to live.

That brings me to an interesting website called You’re getting old. It requires you to put your birthday in a box and then… it gives you all kinds of information to make you feel old. This despite the fact that it also says that the average person going to the website is 33. Yep… not much to say about that. So, for a Monday blog, I figured this might be fun discovery if you click on it.

DID YOU KNOW that the first huddle in football was formed because one team had a deaf player who used sign language, and his teammates did not want the opposing team to see the signals that he used so they formed a huddle around him?

And for pic o’ day, a bit of home security:

home security

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Looking Back to Look Forward

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

     In personal injury cases where clients need long term care, it’s our job to prove the future medical bills. Sometimes this means having a life-care planner testify regarding future expenses that have been identified by the treating doctors, and putting a price/cost on the future care. Many times we call this a minimum life-care plan. It does not take into consideration any future procedures, treatment or medications that may become available because of medical advancements. However, some jurors smartly recognize that the evidence introduced in the plan may be limiting.

     Sometimes the best way to look forward to possibilities, is to look back. That brings me to items sent to me by Jeff R.  It gave me a good “look-back” laugh. At the end of pic o’ day, I will list the answers if you missed one. When our marketing team saw this blog, they immediately decided that they want to put a contest together with prizes. (no lovely parting gifts like Jeopardy) So, we will be putting that together soon. If we don’t have your email, please send it in to be included in the contest.

      Looking back doesn’t have to mean that it signifies anything about age. I knew the answers and I’m a youngster!!! Do these look familiar to you?

                                                                                                                                                                                   What is the connection between these two?

photo 1

                                                                                                                                                                               What is this? (no… not the back of my head!)

photo 2

                                                                                                                                                                                     Do you know what to do with these?

photo 3

                                                                                                                                                                                           Do you know how to use this?

photo 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Do you know their names?photo 5

     DID YOU KNOW that you can’t hum and pinch your nose closed at the same time? (Did that make you try to prove me wrong?)

     And for pic o’ day,

K Bear

     Are you a subscriber of our eBlast Newsletter? Check out our May edition here, and you can subscribe for June. here.

Promised Look-back answers: 1. pen and cassette. Pen is used to wind the tape tight when it hangs out and makes it impossible to play in a cassette recorder. 2. Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove… ready for eating! 3. Caps for a cap gun. 4. An ice cube tray. (probably the easiest) 5. Lassie and Timmy.

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A Do-over

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

In the world of personal injury law, many clients express the feeling of “if only”. If only I had left sooner; or, if only I had not been at that light and taken a different way to work I wouldn’t have been in that accident. In fact, the fault does not lie with the client; instead, if only the defendant had been paying attention or if only the defendant had not been driving drunk.

Friedrich Nietzsche expressed the thought of “what if you had a do-over in life “ He does not express the question in the manner that I would but it does cause thought .What would be your choice?

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: …’ never have I heard anything more divine’.”


DID YOU KNOW that Donald Duck comics were originally banned in Finland because he does not wear pants?

And a bit of shoe coordination for pic o’ day:


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Decisions and Framing

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

In the book How We Decide, the author describes the thinking of gamblers. It was confirmed in a college study.  When the choice of placing a bet for $50 is couched in terms of playing a game to gain 20 dollars, 42% choose to take the chance. When that same amount is described as a game to possibly lose 30 dollars, 62% chose not to play the game. Losing hurts more than winning and the study just framed it in terms of the negative versus positive.

Marketers and advertisers have learned to use the psychology of “framing” on us. It explains why a person chooses to buy meat that is labeled 85% lean instead of being marketed as 15 percent fat. It is also why we go to the doctor and ask an opinion on a procedure or surgery to fight an illness, and expect to be told about the success of the procedure. We are comforted to hear that there is a 98% success rate, not that 2% are worse after the procedure.

In our law practice, we also see the impact of framing during  jury trials. It’s why the legislature has adopted Virginia code section  8.01-379.1, to authorize how many times that the amount of money sought in the lawsuit may be discussed during trial. The Virginia code provides that any party in any civil action may inform the jury of the amount of damages sought by the plaintiff in the opening statement or closing argument, or both. The plaintiff may request an amount which is less than the ad damnum in the motion for judgment.

The law does not allow repeated discussion of the amount that was sued for, but it does allow the jury to know how much is being sought. Repeatedly in jury exit interviews, jury consultants advise that jurors want to know the amount the lawyer is asking for, and even become a bit irritated if the lawyer does not tell them. In some states, lawyers are not allowed to discuss an amount. Those court rules or laws are usually based in the premise that jurors should not be impacted by the psychology of framing.

Some think that a high amount causes jurors to cut it in half anyway. For instance, a juror may hear an amount of 1 million dollars and decide that they will only come back with 500k as their verdict. The greater dollar amount has framed them to a potential higher amount than they might have returned. Consequently, a lawyer who sues and asks for too much, may seem greedy and cause the jury not to take that lawyer seriously or as the one telling the truth.

DID YOU KNOW that according to scientists, kissing for one minute burns 26 calories?

And for pic o’ day, this TV  program sure is getting some attention:


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Satisfaction Guaranteed

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Retail chain Montgomery Ward was the first company in the United States to advertise “satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back”. Founder Aaron Montgomery Ward came up with that slogan in 1874, after he decided to provide “city” goods to country customers who were unable to drive in to make purchases. So, he conceived the idea to sell through a dry goods mail-order “come to you” business.

Ward faced great obstacles including the loss of his first inventory during the Great Chicago Fire; as well as facing local retailer competition, who would go around and burn his catalogs. Despite such actions, he was successful because the core idea of his business met a need.

The history of his business shows that it continued to grow throughout his lifetime in that he ran the business for 41 years until he died. (more of the story here) In reading the history, I was most fascinated by the fact that his catalog became known as the “Wish Book” that had grown to 10,000 items in the first year. Another reason why, despite competition from companies like Sears, he still stayed the course with his success.

In the world of rainmaking for business, I often hear that you need to have your elevator speech. It allows you to tell someone what you do during an elevator ride (or 10 seconds) that serves as your sales pitch for business.

I have never been too excited about the sales pitch idea. I have often thought about what answer to give, when I am asked what sets our law firm apart from other law firms. That is when I think back to an idea that met a need an idea that was not original.

It was the end of the day during a normal workday at the law firm, in 1989. I had met with several new and existing clients that day and I was exhausted. Recounting the story, it was the first time that Dennis Lanier had ever met me. He was doing some investigation for my partner then, and had stopped into my office.

He says that he found me a bit slumped in my chair with the sleeves of my white shirt rolled up near my elbows. He told me that he knew of an idea in signing up new cases. It would make it easier for new clients. He could go to a new client’s house to sign them up, when they could not come in to see me. He had gotten the idea from a solo practitioner and had helped him by doing that very sign-up method.  Soon, we were advertising the idea that “we will come to you”.

Since that time, I have heard other firms advertise that concept. For us, we still “will come to you”. In a way, it was our “Wish Book” idea.

DID YOU KNOW that according to Gambler’s Digest, an estimated $1 million is lost at the race track each year, by people who lose or carelessly throw away winning tickets?

And for pic o’ day… this is bag o’ cat:

bag of cat

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The Jury Summons Scam

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

From South Carolina’s Aiken Standard comes a story of another “beware of scam”. This one involves jury duty.

According to scam that was reported, someone calls to identify themselves as working for the court clerks’ office or the Solicitor’s to advise that the person is being fined for missing jury duty. The person is then told that  they are being fined $500 for not showing up for jury duty. However, they can avoid the fine if they give the caller an But, “for an amount of money, he would prevent them from getting a warrant, for failure to appear for jury duty,”  The scammer  reportedly identified himself by the name “Earley” and told potential victims that he could take care of this fine because he worked for the Judge.

The scammer then tells them that they need to go purchase a money card for the $900 amount, and then call him back with the number on the card, so he could access the funds. The reporter for the newspaper did not indicate whether anyone had yet fallen for this scam.

This was a “new one” to me but also a reminder that I constantly have to be vigilant. Every time that I receive an email from a bank, or supposed eBay notification,  or  some other institution that tells me that I have to log in to receive something or pay something, I immediately become suspicious and go to their actual website to check there.

When I read this jury story, I was also reminded of the time that I showed up in Chesapeake, Virginia, to find that there were not enough there for a jury panel. First, the judge asked us if we were willing to go with a smaller jury. Lawyers can agree to do that and waive any objection to having less than the normal seven-member jury.  In fact, the panel has to include enough for each side to have three strikes, plus the possibility of having alternate jurors.

Alternate jurors may be indicated in a case that could last for a long period, and the judge is basically making sure that a sick juror or a family emergency, would not cause the case to be declared a mistrial. Jurors do not know that they are serving as an alternate until it is time for them to go in the back and deliberate. At that time, the judge tells them that they were an alternate, and they are then excused from service.

When we did not agree to a smaller jury in Chesapeake, the judge did ask us if we wanted him to send the bailiffs out to bring the individuals in who had ignored their jury summons. The defense lawyer and I agreed that we would rather have a continuance than that kind of juror. Still, it serves to show that the jury system runs into trouble, when prospective jurors do not comply with the summons. It’s also why I thank the jurors for serving at the end of each case. Having been told in the past that there were not enough for a jury, does make me truly thankful that each juror showed up and served.

DID YOU KNOW that a mongoose is not a goose but more like a meercat, which is not a cat but more like a prairie dog, which is not a dog, but more like a squirrel?

And for pic o’ day, this does prove that water makes you look heavier!

water fat

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Riddle Me This

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

How do you get out of a room that has no windows or doors and the only thing in the room is a mirror? Answer: You look in the mirror and you see what you saw. With the saw, you cut the mirror in half. Two halves make a hole… and you crawl out!

Why are fire engines red?

     Books are read, and magazines are read, too. Two plus two is four. Four times three is 12. There are 12 inches in a ruler. Queen Elizabeth was a ruler. Queen Elizabeth was also a ship. Ships sail in the sea. Fish swim in the sea. Fish have fins. Finns fought the Russians. Russians are always red. Fire engines are always rushin’. And THAT is why fire engines are red.

Yes, these riddles make no sense at all really. Maybe that’s why they remind me of insurance ads.

A recent ad that was created in Richmond by the Martin Agency features a magician and his trainee/protegee in medieval days, sitting at a table. The magician is teaching “his tricks” by starting out with his first riddle/question:  ”Trick Number One… Lookest over there”. His trainee looks over in the direction that the magician indicated. The magician then says, “Ha-Ha! Madest thou look. So endeth the trick”.

Maybe it’s just me, but this ad/riddle seems to be the hidden message of the insurance company campaign. Distract with pricing by getting people to look only at pricing. That way, they don’t worry about whether the insurance company will be there with benefit when they need the coverage. “Hey, look over here at our pricing not our coverage”. Yes, I could write a very long blog on this topic of torment for me.

Speaking of marketing, DID YOU KNOW that Colgate faced a very big obstacle in marketing their toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate sounds like the word in Spanish (from the root word colgar)  that means “Go hang yourself”.

And for pic o’ day, here is a funny that was sent to me:

Love grand

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