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Fault versus Responsibility

Major league baseball pitcher, Bartolo Colon, was just suspended (ESPN article) for 50 games, after testing positive  for a performance-enhancing substance.  Baseball decided a couple of years ago that it was no longer going to turn a blind eye to steroids, human-growth hormone and other drugs.

When it was announced that Colon had tested positive for a banned substance, he or his agent released the following statement on his behalf, ” I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A’s” (his team)

When I saw this story and the statement, I wondered why he was apologizing. For the last couple of years, there were rumors about him unfairly competing. Now, baseball has confirmed those rumors. Is he sorry that he took banned drugs/substances or is he sorry that he got caught? Was he sorry the day before he got caught.

For every lawsuit that I file, I receive an answer to the suit.  Almost always, the answer is filed by the defense attorney that has been hired by the insurance company. In that answer, they deny everything except that there was an accident. Then, on the day of trial or a couple of days before, I usually am told by the defense that  “they are admitting liability”.

Although they admit liability, they then attack my client about injuries and treatment. Recently, I asked a defendant if he was at fault for the crash. Like clockwork, he said that he accepted responsibility for his actions. I then followed up with, “So you accept responsibility for the injuries that you caused my client?”  He hesitated, looked over at his attorney at counsel table and then blurted out, “oh no, that’s not what I meant”.

Whether it’s the real world, baseball or from a car accident, getting caught doesn’t usaully mean “I’m sorry and I’m responsible”.  I suppose that will never change.

For pic o’ day, this pup just realized that Vet doesn’t mean what he thought they were saying:

Only Insurance Defense Jokes

Normally, I’m not one to really receive or pass on lawyer jokes. The legal profession already has its hands full, trying to improve its image.

Not long ago, I saw a Rasmussen poll that showed Judges being viewed less favorable than favorable. It used to be that old timers in law would blame the public dislike of lawyers on lawyer advertising. It wasn’t an argument for me, to take part in or try to defend advertising. Not sure how those old timers would explain the Judicial approval ratings.

For this blog, I am attaching something that my Mom sent. I am changing the “bad guy” in the story to “insurance defense lawyer”. Just hope that it doesn’t cause a bunch of people to start a movement of “Occupy Lawyer Yard” . Here it is with criticism welcomed! You can always tell me “No more jokes!”

Driving through town in his BMW, a successful insurance defense lawyer spotted two men on the side of the road, eating grass out of somebody’s yard. Moved by how desperate the men had become, he pulled over to have a word with them,

“Hey fellas, what is going on? Why are you eating grass?” asked the  insurance defense lawyer.

“We’re down on our luck, have no jobs and are very poor!”, they both responded.

“Well then, come with me” the  insurance defense lawyer insisted. “I’ll do what I can to help; after all – it’s clear you’re desperate and you’re clearly doing what you can to get by.”

After a fifteen minute drive, the two poor men arrived at a beautiful estate on five acres of land, right on the 18th hole of a prestigious golf course. They became excited at the chance to finally get some work.

“Sir, we can’t thank you enough! Thank you so much for this opportunity. We won’t let you down!” they exclaimed with joy!

“Ah, it’s no problem. I’m just happy to help.” replied the insurance defense lawyer, “You can eat all the grass you want, it’s got to be at least a foot tall by now!”

And now…. pic o’ day. A reminder to stay focused.

When the Defense Says “Sorry”.

     In a written morning devotional, Joe Stowell recently recounted a Paul Harvey “rest of the story“. I am crediting both because it almost sounds like one of those urban legends, but it still makes for a good story.

     The Italian national sailing team had traveled to Australia,  to compete in the race for the America’s Cup. The team had several sponsors, but their primary outfitter sponsor was Gucci.

     Days before the sailing race began, they found themselves with some free time and decided to see some of the Australian Outback. So, they ventured out into the bush in their Gucci jackets, Gucci watches, Gucci warmups and they carried their Gucci bags.

     Because they knew that they might encounter some rough terrain, they rented a Land Rover. As they rounded a curve, a kangaroo bounded out in front of their vehicle. It happened so fast that the Italian driver was unable to stop in time and they crashed into the poor animal.

     Stunned, they climbed out of their vehicle to inspect the damage to Rover and kangaroo. Because there was nothing that really could be done, they decided to make the best of this sad situation by getting close to the kangaroo and inspecting it. None of them had been this close to one before.

     The driver had the “brilliant” idea of putting his Gucci jacket on the kangaroo, so that they could take some pictures of this critter in their team jacket.

     Just as they got the jacket on the kangaroo, it became immediately apparent that the animal wasn’t dead, after all. It revived; jumped up with the jacket on and bolted into the bush before any of them could react. It was then that the driver also realized that the kangaroo now had his jacket, wallet and the keys to the Land Rover.

     This is the kind of story that you could take in many directions. I immediately thought about the defense that I usually hear in jury trials.

     The defense attorney will get up and tell the jury that the defendant is at fault for the crash,  the subject matter of the trial. Then, they will spend the rest of the trial attacking the plaintiff; the injuries and that the defendant could not be responsible for the injuries and resulting medical bills.

     I learned a long time ago that when a defense attorney says that their client is at fault, it doesn’t mean that they are admitting responsibility. When the defendant says “I’m sorry”, I now believe that they are sorry for being in the crash and sorry for being in trial; they just can’t bring themselves to go the next step and accept responsibility for the injuries to my client. 

     There may be a kangaroo still out there, hopping about in the Outback with that Gucci coat. It doesn’t know why those keys are rattling and it really has no use for the wallet. It’s not going to stop at the Outback for “some shrimp on the barbie”.

     Putting a coat on a kangaroo doesn’t mean it can sail or that it meets some need for the kangaroo. For a defendant to say that they are sorry or that they are the cause of the crash is useless to the plaintiff. Until one defense attorney or defendant gets up and says that “I’m sorry that I caused the crash and all these injuries”, then “Sorry” has no meaning, no matter how it is dressed up. 

     If “Sorry” ever does mean “Responsibility”; I suspect that I would resemble that Italian sailing team;  A real look of shock.

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