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Archive for Trip and Fall

Hair Power

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Gene Keady’s hair. Spending $600 a week. The power of a comb over. Probably all of the previous statements mean nothing to you; but combined, they make quite a story about what was important to a coach. (Indianapolis Star)

I call this the power of the comb over. It also may be classified as “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

First, let’s travel back in time to the story of Gene Keady’s hair.

Gene 1

 

 

Gene 2

 

 

Gene Keady did not like going bald. So, he decided to fight it. As basketball coach of Purdue University, he knew he was going to be on TV. It caused him to hire a hairdresser. She dyed his hair and even added hair extensions weekly… at a weekly expense of $600.

Let’s quickly review. He thought that he looked good in the above pictures. He wrapped his dyed hair around his head as though he was wearing a turban, with hair extensions inserted.

Thankfully, there came a time that he met a lady who he ended up marrying. She talked him into getting rid of the weekly expense and scary hair. Below is a before and after… sans hair!

Before and after

 

Now, let me connect this comb over to the practice of law. It shows the significance of appearance. It’s why I put value on scarring.

When I ask a client if they are bothered by their scar, whether on a leg, arm or the face; I then relay that answer to the adjuster. To me, it’s not very persuasive when a callous adjuster tells me that the scarring is no big deal.

Some clients are impacted by no longer wearing a bathing suit or perhaps a sleeveless dress. Others make sure that they always wear specific makeup to cover up the scar.

An old British Television series was titled Keeping Up Appearances. It was centered on the life of Hyacinth Bucket, which she pronounced Bouquet because she aspired to be upper class. She did not want to appear less. Every episode reminded us of the importance of appearance to others.

So it is when a car crash causes injury and harm that truly impacts the way a person thinks about themselves. Coach Keady personally was concerned about his own appearance. Enough to spend that amazing weekly expense. He did not want to be bald for television. It doesn’t matter if someone else said that such a loss did not matter.

And for pic o’ day… the get-away:

squirrell get_away

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The Power of a Picture

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Stuart Elliot writes an advertising column for the New York Times. A while back, he wrote (article) about AT&T’s choice to air a campaign with a spokesperson fictitiously known as Lily Adams. (real name: Milana Vayntrub)

In determining the goal of the advertising campaign, they wanted someone who would appear “friendly, knowledgeable and helpful”. They wanted us to picture walking into a store to buy a phone and expect Lily Adams to be there. It’s better than an advertisement that tells us how friendly, knowledgeable and helpful that AT&T will be, if we buy phone service from them.

In 1862, Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in Fathers and Sons that “A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound”. In 1913, a company named Piqua Auto Supply House marketed tires by running a a newspaper ad that read, “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words”.

Now we all know the expression that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, which somehow transcended from these earlier ideas. For that same reason, there are now companies who specialize in medical drawings for legal cases. In fact, they attend college to study medical illustrations.

It is important to have a doctor describe the injuries that a client has suffered. However, it is much more powerful to have a medical drawing to show the injury  to a jury, and the resulting treatment. The persuasion of the visual.

That thought led me to two recent pictures that caught my attention. The first I saw while watching football on Sunday afternoon. The second was on Twitter and I first saw it in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback article.  In both instances, a description would not do justice.

On Sunday at the Chiefs/Bills game, the camera cut to a guy in the stands who was dressed like the coach of the Chiefs. This beats holding up a sign. Fake Any Reid on the left and Andy Reid on the right!

Fake Andy

This second resulted from a guy  who walked into a coffee shop and told the barista behind the counter, for the purpose of his order, that his name was “Marc” with a “C”. This picture shows the cup when his coffee was ready.

IMG_0049

 

I guess that is the definition of literal.

And finally, I say a special thank you for all who have served in the military. Thank you for your protection of our country and our freedom.

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Don’t Talk Like a Lawyer

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Hall-of-Fame broadcaster John Madden was known for stating the obvious. He would say such things as, “It’s 3rd and 20…They need a good play here.” or “When its raining the field gets wet, then all of a sudden everyone is running slower”.Madden

In describing one player during one of his broadcasts, he stated “There’s a lot of letters in Ladanian Tomlinson”. He just kept it simple and it served him well. In fact, his simplicity ultimately led him to great wealth from a game.

Madden knew nothing about using computers during the early 80′s, except that he would use a telestrator to show the television audience how players were moving on the field with a diagram over the play screen. In 1984, game designer Trip Hawkins set up a meeting with Madden to discuss creating a football game for computers. As a side note, the meeting took place on a train because Madden traveled on Amtrak. He had/has a great fear of flying.

Madden had once taught a class at the University of California, Berkeley called “Football for Fans” as a way to teach and test plays. So, when Madden was approached about being endorser for a computerized football simulation for computers, Madden was interested. Hence, the computerized game of Madden NFL (originally John Madden Football) was born.

To this day, Madden sees the game as an educational tool. In 2012, he was asked to describe the game and he simply stated that it is “a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level”. That’s it. A game that comes out with a yearly new version generating sales of more than 4 billion in total revenue for the game… and Madden sees it as a “teaching tool”.

Not only does Madden see it simply; He also feels it financially. Even though he has retired from the franchise in doing the announcing voice for the game, he continues to loan his name and likeness to the game.  At one point, he signed a 10 year deal with the game maker for a total payout of 150 million dollars. Now that he has retired, it may be a little less… but the money machine continues to roll in the millions for him, just for his likeness.

Keeping it simple also reminds me of a childhood story. As I was helping my grandfather feed the pigs in their barn area, I was struck by how they were so aggressive for their food and how their area was so muddy. I asked my grandfather why they were acting like that over food and why their area was always so dirty. His simple response… “because they are pigs”. Yep!

Both of these illustrations serve as a lesson to us at the law firm. Regularly, I attend seminars on how to be a better lawyer. If I could boil down the advice given from some of the best speakers in the nation, it would be in one sentence… “stop acting like a lawyer”. The words like Whereas and Wherefore really don’t help anyone.

I have heard several lawyers give the advice to just tell the story and then get out of the way and let the jury decide. The worst thing I can do as a lawyer is to get in the way of the evidence. Just keep it simple.

And for pic o’ day, I’m sure this sounds familiar if you have ever been a dog owner :

alone

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The Cause and Effects

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

 “Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone; But there’s half-a-hundred ripples Circling on and on and on, Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea. And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.” (James W. Foley)

Part of my job as a lawyer is to establish all the injury and damages from a crash. A while back I met with a doctor regarding his care for one of my clients. In the meeting, he told me that he did not like to tell his patients that they had a permanent injury. He felt that it would become self-limiting if they thought that they would never get better.

Sometimes in a jury trial, I will tell the jury about the injuries and medical bills in the case. Then I proceed to the elements of damage of my client that include pain and suffering and mental anguish. Sometimes that would make the jury roll their eyes just to hear the words pain and suffering. I think that they rolled their eyes because I didn’t do a very good job in conveying all that my client had suffered.

In one seminar that I attended, I heard a lawyer quantify pain and suffering. He reminded me that we gladly pay between $25-$75 for a shot of novacaine at the dentist’s office, just to be without pain for an hour. So, how much was pain and suffering worth for someone that was going to have it for the rest of their life.

Now, let me switch lanes here to discuss what would happen, if we could change our mental anguish. More specifically, studies have been done to reverse aging effects, just by changing environment, thinking and mindset. It kind of reminded me of that doctor who did not want his patients to think about their chronic pain and permanent injury.

The New York Times had a story in its Health section titled “What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?   I won’t be able to do justice to the study with a blog summary. Basically, it discusses the studies of a psychologist named Ellen Langer who believes that she has proven that we are what we think we are. She applied it to age.

age

Basically, she proved that we are as old as we think we are. In one study, she demonstrated in a study involving elderly at a nursing home, that memory can improve when incentives are given to remember. In another study, she brought 8 men in a controlled area and saw effects of the study that reversed the aging.

It’s admittedly a long article. For that reason, on a Monday you might not have time to read it. However, just as the effects of mental anguish may be overlooked; so may the effects of positive reinforcement. We are who we think we are!

 

And for pic o’ day…

 

calories

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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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Just Count to 10

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

I just saw a list of lies on the Internet. It was a list compiled on a message board. So, I copied them down as a starter for this blog:

1.  “I did not bet on baseball”.
2.  “There are no soldiers inside of that giant wooden horse.”
3.  “Your money is safe with Bernie Madoff.”
4.  “I’m searching for the real killers.”
5.  “At that moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.”
6.  “It’s not you, it’s me.”
7.  “I.  Did. Not. Have. Sexual. Relations. With. That. Woman.”
8.  “There are Weapons of Mass Distruction in Iraq.”
9.  “Welcome aboard the Titanic. Yes, this boat is unsinkable.”
10. “We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”

I had to look some of those up. For instance, #5 didn’t even sound familiar until I googled to learn that the Uruguay soccer player in the World Cup decided that his excuse sounded better than admitting to deliberately sinking his teeth into an opponent.

This list is almost like a trivia game. I guess it could also have included “I am not a crook”. It does remind us of lies that are told. I wonder if #4 is the original lie of O.J. Simpson. I remember a comedian saying that he obviously was doing a good job “looking for the real killer” on every golf course in California.

This came to mind when I heard about a recorded statement that was taken of an insured, following a crash that she had caused. Her statement to her own adjuster admitted that she started the car, put it into reverse with her gear shift, and then counted to 10 before backing up. She never looked behind her because “that’s how she had been taught”. That sounds like truth even though it seems a bit unbelievable.

That brings it into my world. What do you think of a defense lawyer who files an answer to the lawsuit that admits no fault, despite being told differently by his client?  Or, Is that just providing a good defense?

When I asked that very question to a defense lawyer after filing an answer like that, he just admitted that he did such filing; because,  if he failed to plead that in an answer, it would be lost if the evidence came out differently. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

Does this make you remember that story of George Washington that might have been part truth or part myth… but all good story? That he supposedly said, “I cannot tell a lie… I did cut down the cherry tree.”

The opposite of that thinking was German propaganda monster Joseph Goebbels, who believed that no matter how big the lie, people will believe it if you repeat it enough. Sad.

And for pic o’ day:

Huskie

 

 

 

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The Beetle Monument

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Yesterday’s stock market was almost like a Grisham fiction novel. The night before, there had been a reported ebola virus diagnosis in the United States, with the possibility of another. All of sudden this virus wasn’t in another country; It was here.

Tekmira Pharmaceutical Company is the leading manufacturer of medication for the ebola virus. It immediately gained 6 dollars a share for its stock price. Can you see why I say that it sounded like a fiction novel? One reported case… a 21 dollar stock moves to 27 dollars. Some shareholders reaped huge profits.

Wednesday’s stock market was down across the board. For some, panic set in. For others, it was a buying opportunity. The “Haves” and the “Have-nots” on opposite sides. An opportunity for some to turn a negative into a positive, if you believe that the market will rebound.

That reminded me of the beetle monument in Enterprise, Alabama. They call it something more formal: The Boll Weevil Monument.monument

It’s a tribute to the beetle that was erected by the town’s citizens, in 1919. It stands as the only monument that was built to honor an agricultural pest.

The story behind it is what happens when a negative becomes a positive. In 1915, beetles appeared from Mexico into the fields of Alabama and began destroying the cotton crops. By 1918, farmers were losing entire crops. They were in financial ruin.

One farmer saw it as an opportunity to switch to peanut farming and convinced other farmers to do the same. It was a switch to success. Soon, the catalyst for change was recognized and honored as reflected in the statute inscription which states,  “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity…”.

In my law practice, I have seen this same catalyst occur. Some clients have taken their settlement proceeds to effectuate change or bring attention to some product defect. Others have told me that after fighting through their hardship to get better, it made them truly appreciate good health. As Albert Einstein put it, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

DID YOU KNOW that one out of every four “animals” on earth is a beetle?

And from our pic o’ day comes wisdom… or something like that:

on the computer

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Asked and Answered

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

As a young lawyer, I would get very frustrated when a witness would not answer the question. It was not unusual for me to continue to ask the question until the opposing lawyer would stand with the objection, “asked and answered”.

(Warning: you are going to think that I am getting paid by the word. I just really enjoy this topic! Feel free to wander)

That’s usually where I would make another rookie mistake. I would look to the judge for help in making the witness fully answer the question the way I wanted it answered. I can still hear the judge’s response, “Move on Mr. Bieber”.

Since those days, I have been taught a lot about juries as well as voters because  asking and answering plays a big role in law and politics. This even goes back to my days of being involved while working in the middle of political campaigns. So, what do I think that I have learned? Well besides “not enough”… here’s my 2 cents worth.

As to juries, I have learned that they get it. For those who attack the jury system and want to go to a more controlled environment of forced arbitrations… they don’t give enough credit to those sitting on a jury.

I now believe that juries get it when a witness constantly dodges an answer. I’ve also seen them greatly discount defense experts who are professional witnesses for the defense versus the testimony of treating doctors. Plus, it’s better for me to let the jury be bothered or angry at a witness, rather than me trying to beat up on that witness. Since the jury has the ultimate final say in the case… they will take care of it.snack

(Just to break my rambling up, I thought I’d better throw in a random pic o’)

I’ve also learned that people don’t necessarily answer what they truly believe. When a waiter walks up and ask, How is everything?”, many people say it was fine. Never mind the fact that they were just complaining about the taste of the food or the terrible service. We just don’t want to get into it.

When a prospective juror is point blank asked, “Can you be fair in this case?”, rarely will a person answer that they cannot be fair.  In fact, we really have a hard time admitting that we can’t be fair. Instead, the juror might answer that this might not be the case for them because of some reason. Or, they might admit that something is going on in their lives that makes it difficult to fully sit through the case and be attentive.  That might come out with some kind of response to someone being sued or whether there are too many lawsuits.

We all carry some form of bias or prejudice. Just sometimes, it’s hard to admit it.

That brings me to the political process and voting. When Eric Cantor was running for his re-election  nomination against a same-party opponent, his pollsters advised that he was leading by approximately 34 point (National Journal), leading up to election day. Then, he was crushed for the nomination, by 10 points.

Now why were the polling numbers so wrong? Well, the article does give some possible explanations. I think that people are tired of pollsters. Plus, they might just give a wrong answer… just because.

That leads me to the final poll thought. Jim Gaines (Reuters) has discussed in this attachment, a recent poll that shows that one in four Americans wants their state to secede from the U.S. That’s what people truly said. That they want their state to be independent and leave the U.S. Do you believe that they really mean it? Once again, I think that they are answering in the affirmative… just because. Asking might bring an answer; just not the real answer.

And for our pic o’ day, here’s a cow asking:

cow asking

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Making Choices

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

I still can’t decide whether I want the new iPhone. One of our lawyers handed her new phone to me and it just confused me more. Maybe if I understood the features, it would entice me to choose to upgrade.

Iphone

See, I think the features even confuse me more! Plus, it seems too big and now I’m told that people are having trouble with the phone bending. Which brings me to the blog topic of choices.

Sometimes we call it, “If only I had (insert choice)”. That thought takes me back to one of my law school choices.

I was becoming acutely aware that I was losing hair. I even started the “mirror thing” by constantly checking with a hand-held mirror, to see if I had lost more hair. That’s when my haircutter suggested that I lighten my hair. Supposedly that would make my hair look less fine, which was code for balding. That, and people start making jokes about your hair like, “I guess you have summer hair… Some are here and some are gone”. Now, the Internet is the new joke place, right?

Internet crying

Anyway, that was my motivation for my color choice. So I gave the “go-ahead” for the lightening of the hair. Soon the hair dyeing commenced. When it was done, my hair color had moved from my brown God-given to  some kind of unidentified, never before seen red. The lady said not to worry; that the red would wash out and it would turn more to blond.

Six weeks later… they were still calling me “Orange head”. It had lightened to an out of this world color. My bad choice.

Looking back, I still shake my head at the memory. As you read this, do you blame me or the hair person? You’ll notice that this story is told from my point of view.

In auto accident cases, psychologists say that you should always tell the story from the point of view of the person at fault. Jurors more easily place blame on that person. That means that if you tell the story of the case from your client’s perspective of getting hit, jurors may put blame on your client. They should have been more careful; or gotten out of the way; or not travelled down that road that day. Blame falls on their choices rather than the person who caused the crash.

So as I sit here typing today, perhaps I should have told my hair story a little differently.

So the hairdresser said, “you really should change your hair color”. I started to shake my head no…

And for our pic o’ day, some perspective:

Perspective

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The Real Vision

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

I usually start out my opening statement in a trial by telling the jury that a driver has a duty to see what is to be seen. The safe vision of a good driver. Using this standard doesn’t always work in real life. For instance, the profile of Coach Lane Kiffin recently demonstrated the power of hacking as well as what happens when an opposing college football fan base is angry at a coach:

Kiffin profile

 

Something tells me that Alabama did not list his profile as Position: Coaching Idiot. Or Experience: Losing. I guess it is true, you can’t always believe what you see on the Internet.

That brings me to the story of seeing what is to be seen on an injury case. A Geico adjuster recently sent us pictures of a car that my client had been traveling in, when she was a passenger in the crash. The driver was the person at fault in the crash.

The pictures showed no damage, which led us to believe that either it was a very low impact or maybe the adjuster was mistaken about the car being involved in the crash. Do you know where this story is headed?

Because we had gotten involved in the case a year after the crash, we were relying on evidence that was already collected. That included the other insurance company, Alpha Insurance. We also requested their pictures and statements. Soon, the same picture of the car that previously  sent by Geico was also sent by the Alpha adjuster.

One small difference. The Alpha photograph had arrows drawn on the picture, pointing at specific areas on the car. We called the Alpha adjuster to find out why she had drawn “high-tech” arrows on the photograph of the car. She replied, “Oh, that’s where the car was repaired after the accident”. Hmmm…to see what is to be seen!

DID YOU KNOW that our eyes are always the same size from birth? Our nose and ears never stop growing.

And for pic o’ day, I guess this is a cookie’s greatest fear:

cookie fear

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