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Moe Levine On Loss

Do you read the blog for good advice. How about this advice??

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Now let me write a bit about a lawyer who is legendary in law circles. Moe Levine passed away in 1974, but he still lives on in his recording and writings. Many of his openings and closings have been transcribed and have lived on as examples of advocacy.

To give you an example of one of his closings, these few sentences come from a personal injury case in the 1960’s, where he was seeking damages in a double amputation trial. In expressing the everyday losses of his client, he said the following to the jury,

I need not call any army of experts and parade before you countless medical professionals to illustrate this boy’s loss. I need only tell you that I had lunch with him today, and he ate his food like a dog.”

It’s true that what he said was probably objectionable, because he was basically testifying in closing. However, it’s an example of the way that he thought, in conveying loss.

His primary discussion in discussing what a person has lost was summarized in this statement, “It’s not what the defendants have taken from the injured plaintiff, but rather what they left him or her with.” Here is how he conveyed that in a closing:

If a man with 20/20 vision has an accident and is left with 20/40 vision, you have taken his 20/20 vision from him. But you’ve left him 20/40 and he has good function with 20/40. On the other hand, if you take a man with 20/200 vision, who barely sees light and you blind him, you’ve left him with nothing.” This reframe is subtle, but powerful. In another example, Levine poses to the jury, “suppose you had a million dollars, and I took five hundred thousand dollars away. I would have taken a great deal of money from you but I would have left you with a half million dollars. As you still have a half million dollars, you are not left broke. On the other hand, suppose you had one dollar, and that dollar is taken from you. You now have nothing.

In yet another example, he compares loss to a candle, where the smallest candle makes the darkness tolerable. “You blow out the candle, and you are left with the abysmal fear of blackness: no light left. You have taken it all“.

He believed that the Old Testament was a good source of example in considering damages. He conveyed the loss of  enjoyment of life as described in the book of Ecclesiasteswhere it says that it is right and good that when a man has finished this day’s labor, he shall enjoy living.”

I enjoy looking back at the arguments of past lawyers. Most have not withstood the sands of time. But, Moe Levine’s thoughts on damages are still applicable today. In law school, my mock court professor played some old recordings from speeches that Levine made, in the 50’s and 60’s. At the time, it didn’t mean much to me. Now, as I look back, I have a great appreciation of that education. Life experiences had not yet prepared me to appreciate the discussion of loss.

 

And for pic o’ day……

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Does This Coffee Have Value?

You’ve heard the expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure“? Or… “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder“. Well, this blog is about value, even when there are differing opinions. More on that in a second.

But first, I don’t even know why I am posting this for Our Monday Blog, but it just makes me laugh. When I saw this on instagram (I would give credit but I’m not sure where I saw it), it spoke to me about misplaced good intentions. The holiday season…A lot of giving and good thoughts, but maybe not good ideas.

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(See what I mean?)

If you are in search of a tree, this might be an idea, if you have a cat. I guess it’s planning for the inevitable. (Since I’m not a cat person, I am posting this as sent to me. Makes sense.)

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I always feel that a discussion of coffee on a Monday, is timely. I’d say not to read this during breakfast, but there are people drinking this coffee during their breakfast. It’s the story of Kopi luwak.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America describes its taste as “a general consensus within the industry…it just tastes bad”. Yet, it is a very expensive “bad coffee”. Why? Well, here’s the story.

Kopi luwak is the name for any coffee beans that are collected from the excrement of civets. The beans are fed to these cat-like animals, collected, roasted, aged and then brewed. Here is the wikipedia story. It makes it easier to just attach, because I really don’t want to write more about the specifics. (Much like discussing Indianapolis Colts football. Best not to discuss!)

For the point of this blog, I do need to reference the price of this Indonesian coffee. Retail prices reach as high as $700 for 2.2 pounds. I checked on Amazon for the farmed version, and it is currently selling for about $25 for a 3.5 ounce bag and marketed as “The World’s Most Exclusive Coffee“.

To me, this story shows again that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. What is the value of something? Whatever someone is willing to pay. It probably also reminds of of the power of marketing.

I have written about this concept value in other blogs. In a jury trial, when discussing losses, it requires a juror to consider the evidence of value, not what they necessarily consider the value to be.

If someone lost their entire warehouse of Kopi luwak to a flood, it would be easy to consider that there is no value, and therefore no loss. And yet… there is value because critics admit, “It’s not that people are after that distinct flavor. They are after the rarity of the coffee”.

And finally, our pic o’ day

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Michigan Water Reminder

Today,  you might go to your cabinet, pull out a glass, and put it under the faucet. You expect clean and safe water to flow into your drinking glass.

When you sit down at a restaurant, and they bring you a glass of ice water while you look at the menu, you feel safe in drinking that water. In fact, you probably barely look at it.

Your feeling of safety stems from your belief that the city or the government is doing a good job in providing safe water to drink. Plus, water is free… and you are thirsty!

Unfortunately, our feeling of safety just received a nudge from Flint, Michigan. (Washington Post) The mayor of Flint, Michigan, has declared a state of emergency over the amount of lead in the city’s water supply. He takes the actions to apparently seek state and federal financial aid. Now, a lawsuit has also been filed by the citizens of Flint against the city, state and public officials over the water safety. (lawsuit copy)

The city began using the Flint River supply in April 2014, but has now and switched back to the Detroit water system as of Oct. 16. Why? Because of lead in the drinking water. They are now calling it a “manmade disaster”  that has affected residents and the children in the city. The percentage of Flint children with above-average lead levels in their bloodstream has statistically now almost doubled, since the city switched from the Detroit system to the river supply.

According to the World Health Organization, High levels of lead in a child’s bloodstream,  “ affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”

It’s serious and it’s unacceptable. This city has basically poisoned it’s children.

We think we can count on the government to provide clean water. Instead, they choose cost over safety. That’s why I stop and think before I start guzzling that glass of water that the waitress brings me. A true head-shaker. Not a fun topic for the blog.

And for pic o’ day… I am also not encouraging this drinking by dogs!!!!

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Vocational Rehabilitation Testimony

Vocation Rehabilitation! I suspect that those 2 words just made you scroll to the bottom for the picture. So, let me make this short and relevant to our clients’ claims.

In 1984, a Canadian farmer began renting advertising space on his cows… and businesses bought. He had the foresight to look for other avenues of income.

In Virginia, a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist can testify as an expert on what someone lost as a result of their injuries. They testify about work capacity and loss of opportunity. It is up to the jury to believe whether it is a realistic damage of the case.

A person may be working as a waiter but was planning on being a cabinetmaker. After their injuries, they are unable to do the physical labor. So, the jury can receive testimony on what the person could have made, if physically able to pursue their desired vocation of becoming a craftsman in cabinetry. Lost opportunity and lost income.

It reminds me of the story of actor Steve McQueen. He was taking karate lessons and encouraged his teacher to pursue acting. So, kickboxing champion Chuck Norris was motivated to pursue acting! He was able to pursue his dream without physical limitation.

And for pic o’ day… one of my yearly favorites:

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Create Jobs, Grow the Economy

Imagine a Virginia legislator standing to introduce a bill to legalize prostitution. His presentation would include the need and benefit of such legalization because it would create jobs, provide tax money and bring revenue to the economy.

I remember the General Assembly debate over the adoption of a state lottery. Those for the lottery pressed the value of passage because proceeds would go toward Virginia education. It sounded as though all budget shortfalls would be satisfied with a Virginia lottery. We do  have a Virginia lottery, but we also still need more monies in our school systems.

Several states have made the sale of marijuana legal. What was the argument? More safe than alcohol. Creates Job.  And, it provides tax revenue.

Now, if you are of the belief that all problems can be solved through “Drill Baby Drill”, then the next few paragraphs are for you.

Rex Springston of the Richmond Times-Dispatch summarized the opinion of politicians in Virginia regarding allowing oil drilling off the coast of Virginia Beach. They said the following according to his reporting:

The Energy proposal “is a positive step toward responsible offshore energy development that will create jobs and economic activity, while helping our commonwealth diversify its energy resources,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

U.S. Sens. Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner, both Democrats, said in a joint statement regarding drilling: “This is a significant step in a multiyear process that should result in the safe, responsible development of energy resources off the Virginia and Mid-Atlantic coasts.”

Speaker of the Virginia General Assembly House Delegates William J. Howell, R-Stafford says that, “Increasing domestic energy production helps lower energy prices for Virginia consumers and makes our country more energy secure.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-2nd, (his district includes Virginia Beach), is for drilling the 50 miles offshore of Virginia Beach but thinks that the current initiative has unnecessary restrictions that include the 50-mile buffer zone. He thinks it should be allowed closer. The restrictions, he said, “create significant obstacles for Virginia’s goals of creating jobs and growing our economy”.

     Despite this call for immediate approval for drilling, yesterday, CNBC reported that US crude oil inventories rose by 8.9 million barrels. Well above the expected levels. So, there is no shortage of oil and I don’t have to tell you the difference in price when we are at the pumps. We have not seen these prices in a long time.

So in summary, should we be ok with drilling right off Virginia Beach? Is there a reason that revenue and job creation are ok for oil drilling, while these same politicians are against other things that would do the same? Is there a possibility of oil destroying the Virginia coast and tourism, like what happened in the Gulf and to Louisiana could happen to Virginia? Things that make you go hmmmm.

Years ago, I heard a lawyer describe how he handled a defense doctor’s claim that the plaintiff would not need the future treatment that was predicted by the treating doctors. The defense was asking that the jury not consider the future medicals as necessary in their verdict.

The  plaintiff’s lawyer took out a big piece of paper that had Guarantee at the top of it. He presented it to the defense doctor in front of the jury. He said to the doctor, “Isn’t it true that you are telling this jury that my client will not need a hip replacement in the future and that they should not consider such expense in their verdict?”.

The doctor acknowledged his testimony. So the lawyer continued, “Since you are telling the jury not to consider a hip replacement expense in their verdict, would  you instead agree to be personally responsible to pay for a hip replacement if my client needs it?”. The lawyer then presented the Guarantee to the doctor for his signature. The doctor would not sign it.

I wanted to throw these thoughts out to you. Job creation and revenue seem to be great talking points for the oil industry. I wonder if these politicians would agree to be personally responsible for oil spill damages. I just don’t want the jobs that are created to be in the area of cleaning up the environment. Just a thought!

And for pic o’ day, let’s follow the  clues. Who doesn’t deserve cake?

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Paid in Crack!

     Here’s a lawsuit that has some unique issues. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes a story of a lawsuit (KRQE) filed for damages relating to a drug addiction.

    The lawsuit claims that federal agents paid an addict in crack cocaine for his cooperation in an undercover investigation into a Las Vegas drug operation. According to the lawsuit, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approached the man and bribed him to help with the undercover operation by promising a portion of the drugs obtained during the investigation. The suit claims that “He was  targeted because he was a known drug addict”. 

     The man was later charged with distribution of drugs, but the charges were dropped by federal prosecutors in January. The lawsuit seeks $8.5 million in damages for the loss of love, familial relationships, and companionship caused by the plaintiff’s renewed drug addiction.

     A DID YOU KNOW from the art world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hung artwork from Matisse titled “Le Bateau”. It was hung upside down for 47 days before a student noticed the error.

     And for pic o’ day…

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Flight Delay Compensation

Friends and family all know that I am not a big fan of  airplane flying. I do it out of necessity and I always say that it serves to always catch me up on my prayer life. As the old pulpit humor goes, there’s a reason that the Bible verse of Matthew 28:20 says, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”, and that’s a good reason why we shouldn’t fly so high!

The other night at dinner, a lady was telling me that she had just retired as a flight attendant. I told her that I sure wished that I could become as “flying courageous” as flight attendants, and could she give me any tips. She looked at me and smiled and said, “what do you mean? I don’t enjoy flying either”. That didn’t give me much to go on.

With the obligatory discussion of my fear of flying all behind us, I move to some flying advice for those who enjoy flying and have some upcoming vacation flights scheduled. Writer Krystal Steinmetz tells us that we don’t have to settle for a food voucher if we get bumped on our next flight.

According to TechCrunch, you could be owed up to $1300 if you get bumped because of an overbooked flight. So, the next time that you hear the P.A. offering a $20 food court voucher or a free flight because you are getting bumped; you might want to put the brakes on a quick acceptance of that offer, because you may be waiving a money claim.

There are businesses that specialize in helping travelers get their money damages, and they usually charge a percentage of the recovery. Apparently, they describe it as a “mountain of paperwork” to make you feel as though going at it alone is like filing for a patent.

According to Reuters, you are eligible for up to $825 if you are delayed up to three hours, or your flight is canceled. If you are bumped from a flight or you can’t reach your scheduled destination within two hours, you can potentially collect up to 400 percent of the cost of a one-way ticket. The link above gives more details on making claims. Just sending to think about when they try to send you for an Orange Julius.

DID YOU KNOW that Janis Joplin bequeathed $2500 in her will for her friends to “have a ball after I’m gone”.

And for pic o’ day, this seemed a bit on theme:

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A Friday Coast

Fridays usually make everyone smile, even when they work on Saturdays. It is also a good day to do a rambling blog.

I always tend to think that it is a good day to call adjusters. Maybe they are feeling more relaxed and go ahead and throw in just enough to settle the case. I can definitely tell a difference in the tone of their voices.

Weekends are sometimes telltale signs of client’s injuries. Before the crash, they might have taken a trip. Maybe they enjoyed gardening or doing physical work in their yard just to relax. Now, a trip or work in the yard is still possible for many; but they will pay for it physically in the morning. Weekends are no longer the same. A damage marker.

This is the last Friday of a little peace for retail workers. Next Friday… Black Friday.

We still observe casual Friday at the Firm. That is also a bit of recognition that the staff has been working hard all week and are rewarded with some casual.

Many are dealing with a lot of stress this time of year. I hope that this Friday is a time to exhale.

I also think that this Friday is a good excuse to be able to start posting Thanksgiving pictures. Of course, now that Christmas displays seem to be in full force on September 1, maybe we should start Thanksgiving decorations in July. But, that’s not my fight… it’s Friday!

So, in keeping for Pic o’ day, let’s reach back to one of my past favorites:

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Coach Pagano’s Fear

While riding into work,  I heard that BlackBerry is running full-page advertisements in 30 major publications to reach their phone consumers directly. They want to assure their customers that the company will still be around in the future, and somehow the ad is to remove that fear of their company instability.

CNBC has a television show titled “Fast Money” that gives stock traders some possible suggestions for the next trading day. If you watch the program regularly, you almost get the feel that you know the traders because you watch them everyday and you also get to even know their sense of humor. Of course, you also become confident or shaky in their individual stock picks.

Recently, I have noticed that there are a few of those “experts”  who have consistently been wrong on their daily picks. Now, when the host ask for their first trade for the next morning,  these traders are now showing uncertainty by telling everyone to just wait it out through the government uncertainty. They now have the fear of stockpicking; which is understandable except that the show is “Fast Money” not “Slow Down and Wait”. Current losses have caused their fear.

Even when I think of the word Fear, I feel a personal reaction. I guess that even Tigers have fear.

Tiger Fear

 

I titled the blog “Coach Pagano’s Fear”. It relates to yesterday’s blog regarding the Chargers-Colts football game on Monday night. As a “constructively angry” fan, it seemed that the Colts coach made decisions that were grounded in fear.

In the game, the Colts lost. They lost for many reasons but it seemed that the loss started from the very top of the chain… the coach.

When Coach Pagano became the Colts head coach, he came from the Baltimore Ravens where he was known as a tough man. Since that time, he has fought a very public and heroic battle against leukemia and has inspirationally returned to the sidelines. I have heard many say that they believe that he is now a better man, but that he is a changed man.

Of course, as a fan we only see him from afar. I can’t say that Coach Pagano now coaches differently. Still, watching the Colts regularly leads me to conclude that he now coaches in fear of making a mistake or in fear of getting too excited on the sideline. I assume that his doctors have said that it’s not good for his health to get all riled up. I can understand that stress or getting too vocal could  have adverse health consequences, especially when the immune system is low.

I am writing this blog as a bit of a rambling piece on the emotion of fear. That’s because I see fear grip lives after car crashes, and that fear then has a lasting impression.

After the physical injuries have healed and people are no longer going to their doctor or physical therapist, I see fear that remains . That fear can manifest itself in different ways.

Sometimes, a client needs more treatment or even surgery. They tell me that they just cannot go back to the doctor. Fear of needles or fear of being put under anesthesia, or even the fear of having surgery and not being able to provide for their family by being away from work. Fear of losing a job while getting the necessary treatment.

I have seen clients who can no longer ride in cars at fast speeds, or who avoid getting on major interstate highways; choosing to travel back roads instead, or simply avoiding certain trips.

Others live with a fear of re-injury. They are restricted in their activities that others take for granted.

I could list many more fears that I hear from clients. That’s why I use the analogy of Coach Pagano and how I believe that a life event has made him to coach fearfully. The same kind of fear that is caused from a major event like a car crash.

I believe that the emotion of fear can be the greatest damage of all in an injury claim. As the lawyer putting on evidence of damages to a jury, fear serves as a motivator to make sure I have done all that I can to show the long lasting impacts of a car crash on a client’s life.   FEAR. That is a big word.

DID YOU KNOW that the Bible is the most shoplifted book of all time ?

For pic o’ day, how about “Graduate Dog”?

graduate dog

Science of Sadness and Weight Gain

People can gain weight from being sad! I have seen it happen in my personal injury practice. I have included it as a damage from a car crash. In fact, sometimes jurors see it with their eyes when they see before and after pictures of my client.  Now, Psychological Science Journal has proven it through a study in sports.

One day after a defeat, Americans eat 16 percent more saturated fat, and 10 percent more calories. But on the day after a victory of their favorite team, then it’s the opposite. They eat more healthily. They eat 9 percent less saturated fat, and 5 percent fewer calories. There was no effect in cities without a team or with a team that didn’t play.”

Have you ever heard, “I eat because I’m unhappy. I’m unhappy because I eat”.  Then, add on the factor of not feeling well or not having mobility to exercise. Weight gain becomes a real damage of a car crash.

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This is the first weekend of NFL football. According to the study, will Cowboy fans be hitting the Buffalo Wings all you can eat wings bar?

 And in the world of food…DID YOU KNOW that the Incas measured time based on how long it took to cook a potato.

 

And for pic o’ day… another from my Mom! Have a great weekend.

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