The Joel Bieber Firm

Call 1-800-451-6393

Archive for Trip and Fall

Not the Tricks

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

There used to be a cereal commercial for Cocoa Puffs where Sonny the Cuckoo Bird would scream that “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”.

IMG_0001

 

I imagine that part of the reason that General Mills knew that it would be such a hit as a cereal, was that they literally and proudly stated on the box that the cereal was made with real Hershey’s chocolate.

Of course, if parents really believed that they were doing a good thing by serving that to their kids…. then someone is cuckoo. However, I was reminded of that cereal advertising…

(This is kind of like a mid-blog commercial to say that I’m glad that General Mills has modified the ingredients of Cocoa Puffs  to make it almost as healthy as a Pop Tart or maybe candy corn, and yes that is sarcasm. Now back to our blog! )

As I was saying, I was reminded of that Cocoa Puffs advertising when I recently read a sales list that suggested doing the following to be a successful sales person:

The world’s best salespeople take charge of sales meetings by adjusting their chair’s seat height. They begin meetings with their chair adjusted slightly below their customer’s, which subliminally signals that the customer is in a dominant position. As the meeting goes on, the salesperson will slowly elevate his or her chair in order to sit slightly higher than the prospect—putting them in a dominant position. The slow transition subliminally stages the prospect to be more receptive to suggestions from the salesperson. And if they can’t adjust the chair, they simply change their posture to achieve the same effect.

Now, my impression of that sales recommendaton borders on nonsense and unbelievable. Or, it’s at the intersection of offensive and the advertising of a chocolate-covered cereal.

What am I saying? What ever happened to honesty and integrity? There are still people who believe that the most successful lawyers are the ones who are slick and tricky.

That’s why it was refreshing when I recently attended a trial lawyers’ seminar where the speaker stated that the most successful trial lawyers are the ones who honestly present their case and have jurors truly believing the evidence. That there is no place for tricks in the courtroom, and that jurors see through that anyway.

I guess a cereal doesn’t have to be covered in chocolate to be profitable!

And finally, because it is officially spring… our pic o’ day:

photo

 

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

A Recipe of Loss

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Just looking at this picture makes me hungry! These are called “cruffins”. A combination of a croissant and muffin.

Ry Stephen, the proprietor of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, grabs a finished tray of cruffins, his croissant/muffin hybrid, in San Francisco.

They are made at a bakery in San Francisco named Mr Holmes Bakehouse.(SeattleTimes.com) The baked cruffin has various fillings that include Fluffernutter cream or strawberry milkshake. Here are pictures of a couple different fillings:

 

filling

 

 

Apparently the cruffin is so good that it created temptation to commit a crime. Someone broke into the bakery during the night last week. In the morning, nothing from the bakery was stolen… except the recipe for the cruffin and 230 other recipes from the bakery.

The empty folders were even left behind. Only the recipes were taken. The owner of the bakery learned of the theft just a short time before his bakery was to open. His staff called to tell him the recipes were gone. So, he didn’t even have time to call the police. He knew that he needed to race to the bakery and get as many items made as he could, because people would be lining up outside, with the doors to open at 7am.

So far, there are no suspects. Police think it could be a competitor. The employees are already allowed to take home any recipe that they want, so they are not current “cruffin suspects”.

When I read this story, it made me wonder about the value of the recipes. What if a jury had to decide their value in a civil case? At the end of the article, the reporter quoted one customer who said that as soon as she heard about the theft, it made her want a cruffin. “If someone stole it, it’s got to be good”.

That last quote reminded me of some of the things that insurance adjusters have said to me in automobile claims. The theft of the recipes has created value… “and they are now actually better off”. I never get used to such nonsense in negotiations. But writing this blog still makes me hungry!

 

And for pic o’ day… probably hard to listen to these instructions:

calm down

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

The Universal Emergency Number

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

I have to admit that I really have not thought much about how 911 became the emergency number. Yet, I know how important it is. As a side note, I  have had parents tell me that they tried to teach their young child about the number by asking them who to call in an emergency. Many smile and say that their child has replied, “Call Joel Bieber”.

That’s a good answer too! Still, we all learn at a young age when and why to call 911. Now I know the story of 911. Rather than trying to act creative in writing about it, let me post a portion of an article from Howstuffworks.com. It’s how the number began:

Prior to 1968, there was no standard emergency number. So how did 911 become one of the most recognizable numbers in the United States? Choosing 911 as the universal emergency number was not an arbitrary selection, but it wasn’t a difficult one either. In 1967, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with AT&T to establish such an emergency number. They wanted a number that was short and easy to remember. More importantly, they needed a unique number, and since 911 had never been designated for an office code, area code or service code, that was the number they chose.

Soon after, the U.S. Congress agreed to support 911 as the emergency number standard for the nation and passed legislation making 911 the exclusive number for any emergency calling service. A central office was set up by the Bell System to develop the infrastructure for the system.

On February 16, 1968, Alabama Senator Rankin Fite made the first 911 call in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. The Alabama Telephone Company carried the call. A week later, Nome, Alaska, implemented a 911 system. In 1973, the White House’s Office of Telecommunication issued a national statement supporting the use of 911 and pushed for the establishment of a Federal Information Center to assist government agencies in implementing the system.

After its initial acceptance in the late 1960s, 911 systems quickly spread across the country. By 1979, about 26 percent of the United States population had 911 service, and nine states had passed legislation for a statewide 911 system. Through the latter part of the 1970s, 911 service grew at a rate of 70 new local systems per year, according to the NENA. Approximately 50 percent of the U.S. population had 911 service by 1987. In 1999, about 93 percent of the U.S. population was covered by 911 service.

I guess if Paul Harvey was still alive and reading this story, he would finish the blog in voice with… And now you know the rest of the story.

And for pic o’ day I am attaching two in the “education genre”;

 

and 1and 2

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Comments Comments Off

Deciding the Value

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

We start the Monday blog with a picture that Mom sent that needs no real introduction… if you have been living with snow:

fetch

And now a sweater story from ESPN. A reminder that something is worth what someone will pay for it.

A man walked into a Goodwill store and found an old West Point sweater that caught his attention.

lombardi 1

He took it to the front to be weighed because that’s how they determine the price. The price of the sweater was 58 cents… so the man got change from his dollar plus a sweater.  No one had looked on the inside of the sweater. Inconspicuously written on the tag at the neck area was Lombardi 46.

lombardi2

The man took the sweater home and didn’t think much about it until he was watching a documentary on the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. On the documentary, he noticed that Lombardi was wearing the sweater that the man had bought. That’s when he pulled the sweater out and noticed the name written on the tag. It was the sweater that Lombardi wore at West Point while coaching there from 1949-1953.

He eventually decided to turn it over to Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. This past Saturday it was auctioned and ultimately sold for a bid amount of $43,020. A sweater that had a value of what it weighed until it was determined that it had been owned by the most famous football coach of all time.

One final note. When I ask a jury to consider the damage of pain and suffering in a personal injury case, sometimes it’s difficult to put a value on pain and suffering. However, an old sweater reminds that whoever gave that sweater to Goodwill… is probably feeling a bit of pain and suffering and maybe even some mental anguish in an amount of at least $43,020

And finally, a password idea:

password pic

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Choosing the Right Path

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

While attending college, I knew that I wanted to go to law school. I expected to be a corporate lawyer. I’m not even sure why except that it seemed to be what I wanted as a career path. Then, I was in a car accident on my way to a final exam during college.

I had been rearended by a corporate truck. The experience changed my “want”. I no longer wanted to be a corporate lawyer. Instead, I wanted to represent the injured and learn personal injury law.
In law school, there are certain courses that are mandatory. Tort Law was a mandatory two semesters. It introduced me to a wide spectrum of personal injury cases. Then, I interned for two law firms during school and learned more personal injury law.
I have always been thankful for that experience in college, that changed my career choice of the kind of law that I wanted to practice. Based on that, I recently laughed when I read a satirical view of representing insurance companies by a writer who has since passed away. In my opinion, his tongue in cheek view of such legal representation pretty much sums it up:
It is an honorable calling that you have chosen. Some of you will soon be defending poor, helpless insurance companies who are constantly being sued by greedy, vicious widows and orphans trying to collect on their policies. Others will work tirelessly to protect frightened, beleaguered oil companies from being attacked by depraved consumer groups. [Buchwald Commencement address, Tulane University School of Law}

And for our pic o’ day on this Monday:

IMG_0042

 

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

What is it Worth?

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Hanging on our walls in our downstairs Richmond office is various artwork, sports memorabilia and  photographs. I have a special interest in sports memorabilia and have always tried to collect in specific areas, rather than trying to cover all sports.

I suppose that my legal background draws me to sports contracts. So as  a sports fan with a legal bend, I began to collect, among other things, sports memorabilia that included sports contracts.

On our wall hangs several contracts. I took this picture,  from our office wall, of the one below. It is former major league  baseball player Reggie Jackson’s baseball  rookie contract. He signed this on April 6, 1973.  It is also signed by former Oakland Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley. It shows that he was to receive a salary of $35,000 with a deferred amount after his retirement, in the amount of $40,000.

Jackson piece

 

 

 

When most people walk past the contract hanging on the hallway wall, they don’t notice it. Others stop and look at it and sometimes ask  about it.

From the AP and Richmond Times-Dispatch comes a story of a recent auction that brought over $883,000 that included a lock of  Abraham Lincoln’s hair from his death bed that sold for $25,000 as well as the following items and their totals:

-a clipping of linen from Lincoln’s death bed and stained with Lincoln’s blood, for $6,000.

— an1864 letter signed by Lincoln and authorizing prisoner-of-war swap involving Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s son from a Union POW camp, for $27,500.

— A display of photographs and autographs from Lincoln, Booth and Boston Corbett, the soldier who shot and killed Booth — a set nicknamed “The Martyr, The Assassin and The Avenger” — which sold for $30,000.

— a set of four oil paintings created for a carnival side show displaying the mummified remains of a man claimed to be Booth, for $30,000.

— Booth’s military arrest warrant, for $21,250.

— a framed White House Funeral Admittance Card, for $11,875.

— a letter signed by Mary Todd Lincoln on her personal mourning stationary, for $10,625.

Do you put any value on a baseball contract? When you read about these Lincon items, how does it hit you? Can you imagine people buying these? Does it seem a bit macabre. (I have always wanted to use that word!)

Here’s the analogy to the legal blog. In our jury trials, we call witnesses to testify to losses that clients have suffered. It’s easy to put a value on medical expenses because we already have totals.

It’s the losses that don’t have a direct dollar value that are hardest to be considered. What one person may put as a significant loss, may not impact the juror sitting next to them.

What is the value to a client who can no longer workout and then gains a significant amount of weight because of it? What is the value of pain and not being able to lift small kids; or the value of a scar, or no longer being able to wear high heels because of the ankle pain.

We all have heard “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. The legal concept of damages. In a jury trial, putting value to loss and harm is what all juries are asked to do in arriving at a verdict. What is the injury worth?

And for pic o’ day, I suppose this would be a tough jury for a dog bite case:

dog bite

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

The Win/Loss Column

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

A while back I had a client ask me if I had ever lost a case. I guess it’s no surprise that no one advertises the cases that had a bad result. It sometimes is difficult to categorize a win or loss because the verdict might be more than the offer from the insurance company, but less than the demand for settlement. To me, that’s a loss too.

Unfortunately, I have had worse results than that. During my second year of practice, I represented a man who had got beaten up by another man. So, I filed a lawsuit for damages because of my client’s injuries… from being punched.

The defendant denied everything and claimed that my client had started the fight. Of course, there was that small matter of the obvious. The defendant was about 250 pounds and my client weighed about 90 pounds, if he was soaking wet and full of bananas. I suppose that the saying, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”, could have been argued.

The trial only took a couple of hours. The jury came back with a verdict. The piece of paper was handed to the bailiff, who handed it to the Judge. I was looking closely at the Judge’s face for any clue about the verdict.

The Judge began to read the verdict. “We the jury find for the plaintiff”. The Judge paused. Then he continued, “and award damages in the amount of… $1″.

My client was gratified that the jury believed him. He wasn’t happy that the verdict was only 1 dollar. And it didn’t matter to him that I did not charge my fee of 1/3 of the recovery… 33 cents.

I recall an attorney once telling me that losses make us better lawyers. I prefer a different method of improvement.

And for pic o’ day, this is one that you might have to think about a little bit:

dell

 

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Comments Comments Off

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”.

joy

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Comments Comments Off

A Real Injury

Monday, December 1st, 2014

At lunch yesterday, I was asked whether I thought that some of my clients ever faked their injuries. My answer, and true feeling, is that the system does not reward phony claims. Just as it does not reward a phony defense. In every case that goes to trial, I believe that the jury  is asking itself, “are these real injuries”.

That table discussion reminded me of a story from a defense attorney.

In a bus case involving a man who said that he had a permanent injury to his arm, the bus company defense attorney began to cross-examine him. The defense attorney said to the plaintiff: “Would you please show us how high you can raise your arm now?” The plaintiff slowly raised his arm to shoulder level.

Thank you,” said the defense attorney.  “And now please show us high you could lift it before the accident.” The plaintiff quickly shot his arm up above his head. The jury was only out briefly before returning a defense verdict. And that is an example of the system rewarding phony claims!

 

And for pic o’ day, I decided on some motivation. If you are still feeling a little “Post Thanksgiving blues”

tubby cat

 

Then it’s time for some “Arnold motivation” for exercise!

now

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

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

Please click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to let others know you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!