No matter where you are we will come to you

DO I HAVE A CASE?

Currently Viewing Posts in General Law

Some Financial Planning?

 

IMG_2474

This is a picture of a first class cabin aboard the RMS Titanic. They built that ship with true luxury in mind. But when I look at this picture, I think, “did it really matter?“.

I decided to just briefly revisit the topic of Social Security. I promise to be brief! You might think that filing for social security is way out there, or it does not matter because it will not be there when you retire anyway. Or, you have already filed and it does not matter now.

Many probably think… social security  “does it really matter?“. And that reaction makes sense because of the reasons above. So, let me just mention the math.

First things first. If you want to set up your social security account to watch your personal “fundage“, you can go to this social security site  (HERE) and input your information and follow-up to watch your personal account build up. As a disclaimer, I have not done it yet, because I just do not feel like following the directions right now.

IMG_2452

This article (here) from Schwab.com is as good a summary on social security benefits, as I have found. It weighs opting for Social Security early, versus waiting until full retirement age. And it gives a table to consider, if you wait until age 70. (If you wait until 70, you receive 132% of your retirement per month payment)

This article also discusses why you might want to opt for an early social security retirement. Factors to consider include: 1.Your cash needs. 2. Your life expectancy and break-even age. 3. Your spouse’s benefits. (which also discusses when you might be entitled to those benefits) 4. Whether you are still working.

Are you curious about the maximum social security amount that you could receive. Could you live on that in retirement? That’s why I posted this on a Friday. Something to think about!!!!

Have a great weekend and I hope it is a special Mothers Day. I am so looking forward to seeing my mom!

And for pic o’ day…this is just craziness:

IMG_2451

 

 

Monday Blog Follow-up

Sometimes you just don’t feel like it…

'Yes, I know we're hyenas - but sometimes I just don't feel like laughing, Kate.'
‘Yes, I know we’re hyenas – but sometimes I just don’t feel like laughing, Kate.’

This really is a crazy follow-up blog (here in case you missed it) from yesterday. Not very positive, but it really amazed me. This quote relates:

IMG_2464

 

When I walked into the office yesterday, paralegal Lauren said that she had read Our blog and asked, “Did you see what happened to that doctor?”. Then she told me.

I remembered the story but did not know it was the same doctor. From NBC12.com, Doctor found guilty in death of Chesterfield woman. This same doctor (Dr. John E. Gibbs III) killed his girlfriend! It had been an unsolved murder for over three years. This article references his child neglect conviction that was mentioned in the blog, as well.   

Honestly, this is one of those stories that truly ticks me off. And, who knows what bad things he was doing to his patients! We can see his character in both of these instances.

I like this quote on character too, and I feel like posting this before I post our funny pic o’ day. I just feel like this positive reminder needs to be inserted here.

IMG_2465

And then for pic o’ day, I post another quote… because I also need to laugh!

IMG_2454

Home Alone

Let’s start Our Monday Blog with coffee…as it should be started. Our Coffee Time!

IMG_2440

And a laugh

IMG_2418

Today I am going to really write a legal blog. I know…it’s crazy! Let’s start with the story of the case.

The case is Gibbs v. Commonwealth, a Chesterfield Circuit Court Case.

It was the afternoon of February 22,2016. Gregory Gentry worked maintenance at the Clairmont Apartments in Chesterfield. He noticed a “little boy wearing no jacket, a T-shirt, some pants and shoes without socks” wandering outside the complex. Gentry said it was very cold, causing him to wear a sweatshirt and jacket.

He and his supervisor followed the boy (later determined to be five-years-old) as he crossed through the privacy fence of the complex, through the gate and up past the local Costco. Then, into the gas station parking lot next to the busy street.

They caught up to the boy and found out that his father was Dr. John Gibbs, who had gone to work at the hospital. The boy said that his father had told him to walk up there and meet him at the hospital. He refused to tell them his name, but said that he was thirteen-years-old.

They managed to convince the boy to return to his apartment by offering a ride on Gentry’s shoulders. There, they called the police and waited for the father (doctor) to return.

About 40 minutes later, the police arrived. Eventually Dr. Gibbs also arrived. Upon learning that his son had been wandering outside alone, Gibbs offered no thank you for bringing his son back. The only thing that Dr. Gibbs uttered was that his son was a liar for claiming that he was thirteen.

He also told the officers that his son was lying about being told to come up to the hospital. He had been instructed to stay home, because he had been suspended from school.

Gibbs was charged with… and then convicted of felony child neglect for leaving his kindergartner home alone . He appealed the conviction.

Judge Randolph A. Beales wrote the opinion on behalf of the Virginia Court of Appeals. The Court found that Dr. Gibbs acted with reckless disregard for the life and safety of his child by leaving his child alone for over an hour while he drove to a prearranged meeting.

In fact, it was noted that the child had wandered away only a month earlier, in similar circumstances. That time, the father had left the son with his older brother. The court said that this should have also alerted him that the child would wander off.

The real question to legally answer is “when is it legally acceptable to leave your child home alone?”

The Court applied six factors previously described in the case of Barnes v. Commonwealth, 47 Va. App. 105 (2005),

The first factor: the gravity and character of the possible harm.

The Court said that there was potential harm likely to occur, when the child left the apartment alone and ventured across the street, to the parking lot of the Costco and gas station.

The second factor: the degree of accessibility of the parent.

The Court noted that the record of the trial shows that Gibbs made himself completely inaccessible to his son. He was unable to see or hear him if the child needed assistance.  The Court also noted that it appeared that the child truly believed that Gibbs was working at the hospital and that he was supposed to meet him there.

The third factor: the length of time of the abandonment.

The Judge noted that although there is no rule regarding how long a child may be left alone before a parent may be considered criminally negligent, Dr. Gibbs left his son alone for longer period of time, than in prior cases where this court held that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction.

The fourth factor: The child’s age and immaturity.

The Court notes that the child was already suspended from school at the time of the incident. His prior behavior had caused a required meeting between Gibbs, school officials and the child.

Plus, they considered that he had left the apartment by himself, just a month before this and then wandered to the apartment complex swimming pool. The evidence at trial showed that Gibbs should have known that son was immature, apparently unruly; and as a five-year-old, not mature enough to remain alone at his apartment for an hour.

The fifth factor: Protective measures taken to keep the child safe.

According to the Court, there was little evidence to support that Dr. Gibbs did anything to make the child or the apartment secure and safe before he left for his meeting. He never tried to find someone to take care of his son; he didn’t try to reschedule the meeting; and he did not consider taking his son with him.

The sixth factor: The Court considers “any other circumstance that would inform the factfinder on the question whether the defendant’s conduct was criminally negligent.”

In conclusion, the Court upheld the doctor’s conviction. They went on to reason that there is no specific rule that says that any parent who leaves their five-year-old child at home alone, will be automatically guilty of felony child neglect.

According to the opinion, parents are still given leeway regarding the care of their children. Each circumstance and child can be quite different. A parent has a right to decide(within reason), when and for how long, a child is mature enough to be left home alone.

 

 

For pic o’ day, I am changing directions… but this repeat always makes me laugh!

Line up

 

The Controversy of Choosing to Die

This blog reminds me of the expression of the dog trying to catch a fly. I think you might have this same expression at the end. Most of the time, I like to write on positivity. Once you read the article and blog, you tell me!

IMG_2429

At age 104, scientist David Goodall has decided to end his life. At BBC.com, he details why he is ready. According to the article, the well-known ecologist and botanist is not suffering from a serious illness, but he now wants to end his life. Why? Because of his diminishing independence.

David Goodall has bid farewell to his home in Australia to fly across the world. He reports that “My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide“.

He told ABC News that he hoped that people would understand his decision. “If one chooses to kill oneself then that’s fair enough. I don’t think anyone else should interfere.”

This is how he looks now, and this lady is accompanying him on his trip to Switzerland. That’s where assisted suicide is legal.

IMG_2432

He looks fully functional, but he feels like he has had enough. The article details all the things that he has done recently, including editing a 30-volume-book on the topic of Ecosystems of the World.

I thought I would post this as a topic today because it deals with something that most people want to ignore… death. Plus, there are true differing opinions on whether a person should be allowed to determine the choice of when they die… versus leaving death to determination by God. There is a lot packed into that last sentence. Pretty intense!

I found this article to be extremely interesting because this man is not terminally ill. He just feels as though he has had enough.

And now, I want to lighten up the blog a bit. So……

For pic o’ day… who doesn’t want a pony?

IMG_2426

No Monkey Business!!

Selfies are the theme!

IMG_2404

Today’s legal question: Why is a corporation considered to be a person by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United Case (See Washington Examiner article) even though a monkey is not allowed to copyright his selfie? I guess I could get crazy and also ask why the PaMunkey Indian Tribe can own a casino! (Richmond.com)

Did you see this story about Naruto? (Yahoo Story) Yes, I know…crazy that we even know his name!

IMG_2406

Who would have thought that a monkey would be involved in a copyright lawsuit? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have good lobbyists working for him.

It all started when a judge ruled that a monkey does not have the right to own a selfie. Then on appeal, three judges unanimously upheld a lower court ruling and dismissed the original lawsuit that had been brought by PETA. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The picture was taken by using a  UK-based photographer’s camera. Apparently, the monkey walked up… and pressed the button. 

Then in 2015, PETA filed suit on behalf of the monkey against wildlife photographer David Slater, seeking financial control of the now-famous selfie of the grinning monkey in the picture above.

The Appellate Court seems irritated with having to decide this case. Here’s what the opinion said,  “We must determine whether a monkey may sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement”.  Judge Carlos Bea continued, “We conclude that this monkey — and all animals, since they are not human — lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.”

Then, they sent the case back to the lower court… to determine what attorney fees that PETA owes the photographer’s attorney. I wonder if they will ask the monkey to help bear that burden. This whole story makes me “paws” (see what I did there?) and wonder… what would cause an organization to think that monkeys should have financial rights? Come on!

 

And finally for pic o’ day, this has nothing to do with the blog but it truly makes me laugh!

IMG_2340

Newt & Joe

Slate.com had an article about Melania Trump and how she “utilizes” (my word) sleeves. The article is titled Why Melania Trump Rarely Uses Sleeves As They Were Intended: A Few Theories.

IMG_2393

And when I think about it, I guess she does wear her coats often like this picture. In the article, they show many pictures of her in that coat-wearing-mode. And then they speculate on why she wears  “Shoulder-robing”.

They seem to recite what might be considered as… the democrat theory. Because maybe it’s her way of not having to hold hands with the President. Come on! Their additional theories are all over the board. It’s all about looking at thinking through the lens of perspective.

I think that if the writer is going to speculate about not wanting to hold hands with her husband, they should also include viewpoints from other political views.

For instance, maybe if you are a republican, you might speculate that she is very fashion-forward. As an independent, you might think she is simply cold. If you have no political view, you might speculate that she is Inspector Gadget. Yes…that’s it! Inspector Gadget!

Of course, it could be like looking at this person. At church or in McDonald’s? Although they clearly answer it for us with the caption:

IMG_2376

There are different ways of looking at things. That’s something Captain Obvious would say. But, I saw it occur at the Richmond Forum on Saturday night.(Info on the event here)

Joe Scarborough and Newt Gingrich and moderator Mara Liasson addressed the topic “Perspectives on the Party in Power”.

IMG_2394

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich brought a laugh to the crowd when he described how politicians used to be able to work together. He said that politicians from both parties would argue in the morning, negotiate in the afternoon, and drink together at night. And that’s how they got things done. Now, there is not as much communication.

I looked for an article to attach on the evenings events, but couldn’t find it. The reason I am blogging about it is because I thought that the topic was well handled from two different viewpoints.

Joe Scarborough is a former republican congressman, who is now an MSNBC host. He had a falling out with the President. Then, President Trump publicly attacked him by calling Scarborough “crazy“, and also calling his co-host/now fiancee Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock“. (Story Here) So there might be some personal motivation in his disagreement with the President.

Newt Gingrich is known as a supporter of President Trump. His wife was appointed by Trump as an Ambassador to the Vatican. (She was confirmed by a 70-23 vote in the Senate) And he is now a Fox News contributor.

Mara Liasson was also an interesting pick as the moderator because she is a political correspondent for National Public Radio (which republicans sometimes attack as too liberal) and she is also a contributor/panelist for Fox News. Thus, she gets attacked by both parties.

Scarborough has recently written a book titled “The Right Path“, which discusses where he believes the Republican Party has gone off the rails and how it can be restored to again be the Grand Old Party.

Speaker Gingrich has recently written a book titled “Understanding Trump“.  In the context of the book, he was able to ably defend President Trump. He views the President as a Disruptor that was needed. I looked Disruptor up for definition: to cause disorder or turmoil.  Gingrich believes that right now, that is exactly what this country needs.

I am not going to recite their differing perspectives (I went to the Wizards game last night and saw an exciting win, but now I need more coffee!), but I found myself persuaded by both of their viewpoints. Pretty impressive persuasion!

One of the last things that Newt (I just wanted to use his first name because it has always grabbed my attention. Plus, I do like Fig Newtons… just throwing that out there) mentioned that was not necessarily related to Trump. But, a good reminder on how to get things done politically.

You ought to know who you are, what you believe, and what you’re trying to accomplish. And then you got to find a way to get it done“. That sounds good for politics, but also good advice for every day living!

And for pic o’ day…things do work themselves out!

IMG_2348

Political Winds Plus Some Ramblings

This is a thinking blog starter for Friday… right? It is only understood by coffee drinkers!

IMG_2355

 

Let’s start with something that is hard to understand. And then something that is understandable.

Hard to understand? It’s a story from Wavy.com. This whole story is crazy to me. Especially the Cheetos.

The title of the article says it all.  Homeowner finds naked intruder in her tub, eating Cheetos. There is a lot wrong with that. Hard to understand! I guess you can look for the positive and be thankful that she did not steal their goldfish! Boom!

IMG_2379

And now to the understandable.

Earlier this week I had breakfast with a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. I had never personally met him, so I did some background research on bills that he had introduced in the last session, bills he had supported, and donors who had made contributions to election/reelection.

I found that Geico had been one of his contributors. They had given more significantly to some Republicans, but he was one of the few Democrats that had received a political contribution from the insurance company, even though it was only $250.

I asked him why he thought that Geico had contributed to his campaign. He advised that he sat on a subcommittee of three legislators that handled insurance legislation. All three of them had received political contributions from Geico.

And that’s how it works! Easy to understand. Does it make you want to say “Good Day”?

IMG_2329

 

 

And finally, have a great weekend!

IMG_2324

 

A Movie… Predicting Technology?

It’s Monday… is it time to refuel?

IMG_0010

I know… I am being crazy. I didn’t want to seem mean with that picture. I really can relate! In the past, I can remember “rewarding” myself with cake. (and maybe cheesecake too) And how can you be angry at cake?

Now… on to some smart stuff:

IMG_2194

OK, some real smart stuff.

Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is turning 50 years-old next month. (Wikipedia) It was the highest grossing movie of 1968. In 1991, it was described as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry

But how did the writer/director (Kubrick) and writer (Arthur C. Clarke) see into the future of technology and predict the iPad and flat screen televisions?

In the movie, there are flat screened tablet computers. Of course, this was long before there was any talk of flat-screened televisions. It did not make the final cut of the movie, but the original plan was to even include a touch screen. Here is a shot from the movie:

IMG_2196

These “tablet computers” were called “Newspads“. They looked portable in the movie, even though they were welded into the tables for special effect purposes.

So how did they do it? Kubrick and Clarke met with an MIT cognitive scientist, who was also an artificial intelligence pioneer. The artificial intelligence computer in the movie is named “HAL” which stood for “Heuristic Algorithmic”. That meeting, coupled with their own thoughts is part of the history of how they did it.

The Wikipedia attachment does more justice to the production and legacy of the movie. In fact, I was going to compare some of this technology to Facebook. Then, I read about how this movie was included in a recent lawsuit. (Wall Street Journal article that requires subscription, so not attached)

It is probably not surprising that the lawsuit involves Apple. The first iPad was released in 2010. Samsung released a sim­i­lar de­vice about a year later. Then, Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement.

Samsung’s defense to the lawsuit alleged that Apple did not invent the iPad. The proof was that the device was already in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Right in the pleadings! You did not invent what was shown in 1968.

Sam­sung’s movie defense included photos attached to their answer, as well as YouTube links from the film.  The judge ul­ti­mately ruled that the photos and links were in­ad­mis­si­ble as ev­i­dence. But, this just added to the mystique of the movie and Kubrick’s vision of the future of technology.

I have always been fascinated with Steve Job’s determination about that lawsuit:

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.” —Steve Jobs to Walter Isaacson, March 2010.

Here is more information on what happened in the lawsuit. (here) How about that?

And for pic o’ day, I searched for a “smart picture and we ended up with… more smart pups:

IMG_2193

 

 

 

When To Settle!

I missed blogging yesterday. So, let’s start with some food thought… move to the legal part of the blog (which you are probably thinking  is highly unusual) … and on to some “exercise”. A real plan!!!

IMG_2099

 

It takes two to tango is a phrase from a 1952 song that has become synonymous with cooperation. President Ronald Reagan used it when discussing Russian and American relations during a 1982 presidential press conference. I have heard it applied to the negotiations during lawsuits.

If one party does not want to settle, it makes it nearly impossible to resolve a case. When a client asks me early in the case whether I think their case will settle, I sometimes mention the Two to Tango analogy. However, the “want to settle” may get influenced, if the assigned judge in the case tells the parties that “you better get this settled“.

I have seen corporations like Walmart and Food Lion take the corporate approach that “you can file suit against us, but be prepared to go to court because we don’t settle cases“. Ultimately, their yearly financial data will tell them if that policy makes financial sense in handling lawsuits. And that can lead to a change in corporate policy.

There are some lawyers that will not take cases against corporations with a no settlement policy, They know that they will have to file suit. And that’s what these companies count on in coming up with that claim policy. On the flipside, not settling cases can lead to significant defense costs and large jury verdicts. That is the corporate balance to weigh.

Yesterday, USA Today had a story (here) titled Trump golf club settles suit from former members seeking refunds. President Trump has previously said that he does not like to settle lawsuits and prefers to fight them. But in this case, he has settled with former members at his golf course in Florida.

The original lawsuit had been brought by golfers who previously purchased memberships at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course, before Trump bought it in 2012. The golfers sued, claiming that he failed to return their previously refundable deposits that ranged from $35,000 to $210,000, after the ownership change.

According to court documents, Trump National Golf Club agreed to pay nearly $5.44 million to the members who were part of a class action. After legal fees, each of the plaintiffs will end up with about 71% of the refunds they sought, according to the ruling.

When I saw this article, it reminded me of a case that I handled long ago against Food Lion. My client had received about $4000 in chiropractic care, as a result of a fall in one of their grocery stores. Because Food Lion’s strategy was to never pay (at that time), we went to trial in Norfolk Federal Court.

Magistrate William Prince (a former defense lawyer before he went on the federal bench) did not think much of my claim, and dismissed it at the end of the two day trial. He did not let the jury return a verdict after sitting for the entire case. As an energetic crazy young lawyer, I was truly ticked off with the dismissal of the case… and appealed to the 4th Circuit.

At the conclusion of the appellate argument, it was clear from the questions of the panel that the justices were going to rule for my client, and all indications seemed to point to a return of the case back to the trial level, solely on the issue of damages.

One of my great memories from of all my years of trial work includes this case. That’s because, on the way out of the appellate court room that day, the defense attorney turned to me and said, “This is one case that Food Lion should have settled long ago“.

Soon thereafter, I received a call from that lawyer that led to a very satisfying settlement for my client. We caused a change in corporate policy… at least for that day!

 

And finally, in the introduction I promised something about exercise. This counts… right?

IMG_2100

Just Friday Ramblings

E7815F00-4251-4ABC-AF54-B76AE07BD855

Because I am on the move this morning, I am typing Our Blog on the iPad. The office outfitted me with a cover that includes a keyboard, but I still worry about the fat finger typing and spacing. Fears that wording might end up like this:

FE0CECA8-A64D-421C-AD2B-D5656565100C

I was in a seminar yesterday, on topics about IEPs and 504 Plans. “What?”  Exactly! I could blog a little on that…but it’s Friday and much more fun to post random.  Right?

How about an insurance mention?

7F9A291A-AB2C-4D80-9158-8F5CCEE4DB64

Today in 1945, the U.S. flag was raised on Iwo Jima. The famous picture was picked by Time Magazine as one of the most influential photographs of all time.

3425E2AD-8C71-4760-AC06-0BB15DCF9880

The story (here) described at History.com gives some insight on the controversy behind the photograph that has also been the subject of movies. It all revolved around “who was first” and why was this photograph taken of the second Flag raised?

It has been a great week!

0485452F-5A54-4BDD-A47C-6CF9A09D6620

I hope you have a weekend that makes you smile!

B25E8DF3-7EF8-4B9F-8A80-C9A9E7B96CAF

  • Archives

  • Menu Title