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Butterball Lawyer?

Yesterday was our office Christmas breakfast. It has evolved over the years from a dinner, to a lunch, to now just breakfast. Our Richmond and Virginia Beach offices were both there. Over the past years, the staff has generally expressed that they enjoy having breakfast and then the rest of the day off…. “so they can shop like it’s their job!”. That always makes me laugh.

One of the attorney’s wives (Karen) sitting at my breakfast table told me the following story that just happened. It shows some funny Christmas spirit…or something like that.

As Karen was driving through Carytown, she noticed an older lady limping along while dragging her grocery bags. She stopped and asked the lady if she could drive her to her house. The lady shook her off and said that she was fine. The lady then told her she had been in a car accident and that her doctor had suggested that she try to walk a bit, because it would help with her recovery.

Karen then asked her if she had an attorney. The lady looked a bit bewildered at that question. Finally, she shook her head yes and said, “Yes, it’s a Butterball“. Instead of answering whether she had an attorney, she thought that Karen had asked her, “Do you have a turkey?”. Boom!

I hope you have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day, I am posting two that were sent to me, that made me smile:

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Wedding Drone Injury

Normally you don’t expect an injury that leads to a lawsuit… at a wedding! But what wedding planner includes drones in the wedding reception? And so the story goes…

A groom recently married in August is now facing a lawsuit by two of the wedding guests, who claim that they were hit in the head by a drone that he flew during the wedding reception. You might want to read that unbelievable sentence again.

The defendant and his wife were married at Searles Castle in Windham, New Hampshire. The “fairy tale” wedding included using a drone to snap reception photos from high above. Unfortunately, the drone crashed into two of the guests and the two women claim in their lawsuit that they were injured by the drone, while they were dancing. (Mass Live)

One of the women says she suffered a concussion and fractured her nose and orbital bone. The other plaintiff contends she suffered a gash requiring 20 stitches. They both claim they have suffered permanent injuries. The groom admits owning the drone but claims he was not operating it.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you are thinking of buying a drone for Christmas, you might want to go with the Nerf toys instead. And for wedding planners… stay with the rice! Just a holiday thought.

And for the Christmas spirit, here’s pic o’ day:

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Toast and a Dress

In 2000, Justin Timberlake finished a radio interview and left behind two pieces  of French Toast that he had barely touched during the interview. The DJ at the station then put the left-over toast up for bid on eBay.

A bidding war ensued and a fan won the auction and the toast for $1,025. Apparently, being a fan of the singer gave value to the toast. (Story)

The dress in this picture was worn by Marilyn Monroe  in 1962, when she sang the infamous Happy Birthday song to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. (LA Times)

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At the time, the entire event was controversial; That includes the “singing in a whisper” voice as she sang to the President, because there was a “well known secret” of the ongoing affair between Kennedy and Monroe.

The dress was made of silk gauze and covered in thousands of sequins and rhinestones. It’s original cost was $12,000. The gown was so tight that Monroe had to be sown into it before she walked on stage. Three months after her singing appearance, she was found dead in her apartment.

The dress has changed owners over the years. Recently at auction, it sold for 4.81 million dollars. Just a dress, a very tight dress.

In 1995, I was about to begin a jury trial in Rockingham County, North Carolina. When the Judge met with defense counsel and me in his chambers before going out to begin the trial, he asked if we were close to settling the case.

“Not even close”, I said .The judge looked at me and told me about a recent verdict in that county that was only $20,000, for the death of a 22-year old. As he put it, “the people of this county have nothing, and they want to make sure that no one else has anything”.

I unfortunately report that the jury did not return a verdict that I was expecting. The judge told me that he wasn’t surprised. It’s why, despite my many jury trials, I can easily remember when that trial took place.

The German word Schadenfreude is translated literally as harm-joy. It is the pleasure that is derived from the misfortune of others. It is similar to the meaning of gloating, but we have no specific word like this German word. Perhaps its our way of pretending that we don’t have this emotion.

There is an old English expression Roman Holiday. That literally comes from the days of  ancient Rome where people would travel miles to watch the Gladiators fight, with the expectation that a gladiator  would be killed “to make a Roman Holiday“.

This blog isn’t meant to provide an answer. However, the question is, “why do some put such value on objects and things, and not on life and human suffering?”.

When selecting a jury, it is always my hope that I don’t have someone on the jury who does not feel for others who have suffered. Many jury consultants suggest that it’s a bad idea to allow youthful jurors, especially males, to serve on your jury. Many of them have played video games that are based on war games and suffering, and they have detached from feeling human suffering. I hope that’s not totally true.

When I read stories of French Toast and memorabilia celebrity dresses that have sold for such significant dollars, it doesn’t surprise me. It just makes me hope that it will somehow impact our appreciation for the losses that people suffer.

 

And for pic o’ day…

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The Handshake Lawsuit

Does this lawsuit bring you a memory of a “bone crusher” handshake or does it fall in the category that “people will file suit over anything”?

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I like to blog about unusual topic lawsuits and this lawsuit from Florida (Sun Sentinel) definitely grabbed my attention.

A Delray Beach lawyer claims a Boca Raton lawyer shook his right hand so hard that he has been in pain for years. “This is a case about an alleged negligent handshake,” reads a statement that Circuit Judge Gregory Keyser will read to jurors after they are sworn in the jury trial of the case of the bone-crushing handshake.

It’s no joke says the plaintiff, George H. Vallario, Jr., 76. He insists Peter Lindley squeezed his hand and caused “severe pain” while the friends were attending a childrens’ birthday party at a Boca Raton private home.

“I screamed, ‘holy cow!’ ” recalled Vallario, who said he might not have sued if the defendant Lindley had just apologized. He believes that Lindley may have just been trying to be funny by squeezing his hand so hard, but that it really caused injury. His lawsuit claims that the handshake was “unexpected, unprovoked, univited, unauthorized, uncalled for, and most certainly negligent”.

As a result of the handshake, Vallario has received orthopedic treatment, therapy and believes that his arthritis has been exaggerated. 

Lindley, 60, doesn’t dispute that the men shook hands at the party. But the attorney denies that the handshake caused any injuries to Vallario.

Perhaps this will return us to the days of a Lumberjack handshake. Folks putting their hands together and moving back and forth like a saw. Or… maybe not so much!

 And for pic o’ day, more on the handshake with poor Roy:

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Eyebrows and Love

First, how’s that for a blog title? Did it grab your attention? I think that’s what they call “click bait” but I figure that anything goes for our weekend blog… right?

First, when I was 16-years-old, I worked at Roses Deparment Store. I was called the assistant manager of the Toy Department and the Stationery Department. The reality was, that the full time workers all went home and the store was run by a bunch of teenagers. Retail at it’s finest.

I was making minimum wage as the “Department Manager” and that bothered me. So, I used to always ask the manager for a raise and he would just laugh. Then, I would ask if he wanted me to give minimum work for minimum wage… and he just laughed.

I remembered that life experience when I saw this story on Donald Trump at Foxnews.com. I won’t spoil the surprise of the story. Wait, What? It’s no surprise? Exactly!

In the article, Trump brags about not paying contractors. He justifies it by saying that if he wasn’t pleased with their work, he wouldn’t pay them. Or, he would withhold payment if he felt that they didn’t do a great job. His mentality was that he was only going to pay minimum… for minimum. That’s why I thought of my wonderful retail days at retail.

Fox portrayed the Trump payment schedule in as favorable a light as possible. It even sounds worse here at USA Today. I think that it’s one of those “it’s all how you look at it”. If you aren’t a Trump fan, then you just think that he is scum. If you are a fan, then it’s good business.

But I don’t want to focus on that. How about some fun pic o’s for the weekend? It’s why I titled this Eyebrows and Love!

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Have a great weekend!!!

The Mug Shot Curiosity

Mug shots have taken on a life of their own. No, this is not a blog on coffee! It’s those pictures that are taken of people when they are arrested. In fact, newspapers sometimes even have an online section. (Example from Daily Press)

Public relations agents for celebrities are apparently telling their clients to make sure that they smile if they are arrested. Such as:

 

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And then the infamous Nick Nolte:

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If you click here, there is a whole collection of smiling celebrities. If you didn’t know where the pictures came from, you would think that these celebrities are the happiest that they have ever been. In fact… not so much.

That brings me to a recent Court of Appeals opinion from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . In a close 9-7 opinion vote, the court ruled that suspects have a privacy interest in preventing disclosure of their criminal mug shot photos that should be weighed against the public interest in receiving them. (Detroit Free Press)

This ruling only relates to Federal requests, and not to state courts. This federal appellate court noted that freedom of information requests (FOIA) allow federal agencies to refuse requests for law-enforcement information if the release could “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The court ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Detroit Free Press, which had sought photos of four Michigan police officers charged with bribery and drug conspiracy from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The opinion of the appeals court said.

“A disclosed booking photo casts a long, damaging shadow over the depicted individual,” Circuit Judge Deborah Cook wrote for the majority. “In 1996, when we decided Free Press I, booking photos appeared on television or in the newspaper and then, for all practical purposes, disappeared. Today, an idle internet search reveals the same booking photo that once would have required a trip to the local library’s microfiche collection. In fact, mug-shot websites collect and display booking photos from decades-old arrests.”

In the dissent, Judge Danny Boggs wrote that, “Today’s decision obscures our government’s most coercive functions—the powers to detain and accuse—and returns them to the shadows.”

This is one of those blogs where the words get boring… but the pictures are interesting!

And for pic o’ day, some lion humor!

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Tale of Two Lawsuits

I thought that my Monday blog should include some law! So, today I write about two unusual lawsuits. One is settled and the other is still pending and headed to trial.

First involves a mascot and ESPN (Chicago Tribune)

A wrongful injury lawsuit filed against ESPN by the school mascot for Mississippi State has been settled. The plaintiff, one of the university’s cheerleaders, was dressed as  Bully the Mascot when she was run over by one of ESPN’s motorized television cameras. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff suffered a compound fracture to her lower left leg during the incident. The plaintiff filed suit against both ESPN and Mississippi State seeking $75,000 in actual and compensatory damages. The amount of the recent settlement with ESPN has not been disclosed. She still has pins in her leg and continues to experience pain.

 

The second lawsuit is an employment wages lawsuit (The Post and Courier) that was filed against a Charleston, South Carolina restaurant for “breakage”.

A wage theft lawsuit filed against a seafood restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, is headed to trial. The lawsuit was filed over the policy of Hyman’s Seafood Co. of charging employees under a “breakage fee policy” whenever employees would break glasses or dishes. According to the complaint which has been filed by 160 current and former employees of the restaurant, Hyman’s violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by charging employees a breakage fee.

In a deposition, the restaurant owner admitted that he had not consulted an attorney before implementing his policy. The plaintiffs need to show that his conduct in implementing such a policy “knew or showed reckless disregard”. It would make me nervous carrying the plates!

 

And finally our pic o’ day

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Self-Driving Cars

I saw a news story on a self-propelled rollercoaster in Japan.

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I say “no thank you” to this ride! This “self-rollercoaster” ride reminds me of all the news that is currently surrounding the Tesla Motor Company. We’ll come back to the self-driving car crash below. But, it bears mentioning that I have not written a blog for the past couple of days; which serves to remind me that the blog does not write itself… unfortunately. But I digress.

Joshua Brown, 40, was killed “in a Tesla car” while it was reportedly in Autopilot mode. “In” means he was sitting in the driver’s seat.

Brown, who was from Ohio, owned an Internet business. In a story in the NY Times, a former employee of Brown’s told a reporter that while Brown liked to drive fast, but he considered him a safe driver. Brown regularly posted various YouTube videos of himself “driving” his Tesla car in the hands-free Autopilot feature

Brown was killed when his Model S car did not see a tractor trailer truck that drove across the road, because the Autopilot mode did not distinguish the white side of the turning truck against the Florida sunny sky. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the brakes were not activated by Autopilot or by Brown.

“Once the complete investigation results are published, we’ll obviously evaluate all the data and the conclusions and make our decision from there,” Paul Grieco, the attorney that the family’ hired to file suit against Tesla. .

Frank Baressi, who was the driver of the tractor-trailer, says that the car was going fast when the crash occurred.  (AP reports). He also told investigators that Brown was watching a Harry Potter DVD. He later admitted that he could only hear the audio, and did not see it playing. A portable DVD player was found in Brown’s car according to the Florida Highway Patrol. .

I have been asked how I think that self-driving cars will impact our law practice. I don’t think anyone really knows, although I have always thought that there will always be responsibility for negligence or being inattentive.

At this point,  self-driving car technology is out there but not something seen very often. Right now, laws have not really caught up with the technology as self-driving laws are basically the same as all laws. Regulation will probably change over the coming years to keep up with the evolving technology.

It makes me wonder when we will see ads for pizza delivery by self-driving cars. Those pizzas need to stay safe out there!

And for pic o’ day, the life of lion:

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A Back Yard Carnival

Have you ever been driving down a road and looked over to see something curious in a yard?  Something like an old rusted car, or maybe an old bird feeder?

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Does it make you wonder what the neighbors think? Well, here’s a story at Roanoke.com, where we know what the neighbors were thinking. The article is titled Decision against northeast Roanoke couple’s carnival rides will stand, judge rules. Does that get your attention?

The story goes that a couple moved into their home about two years ago. Then, they assembled a number of  antique rides in their yard, which measures 1.4 acres.

The “rides” include a 1973 Ferris wheel and a Gravitron ride. The Gravitron  weighs about 19 tons and is valued at more than $200,000. At this point, I am guessing that the neighbor’s had noticed!

To no one’s surprise but theirs, soon they were cited by an inspector and told to remove the rides. They appealed to the city’s zoning appeals board. The board determined that the rides were not permitted in a residential area,  because the machines are “substantially similar” to a commercial amusement park.  (Imagine that!)

From there, they appealed to Circuit Court. The Judge ruled against them, while admitting, “Nobody loves a ride better than I do,” but he found that such rides were improper for a residential area.

The couple have now filed a $2 million civil suit against the city and senior code compliance inspector, arguing that he had defamed them while investigating the rides.

The suit alleges that the inspector sent an internal email which described them as “a real menace to the neighborhood”. They have not decided if they will appeal the “ride ruling”.

It  makes me wonder why they couldn’t just be happy with a roaming Gnome with a tank top, or a birdfeeder for the squirrels. Even a rusty car seems like a better plan.

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I Am Not That Person!

The movie Wolf of Wall Street is based on the book that Jordan Belfort wrote about his life. He took an entry level position at a low level brokerage firm and parlayed it into his own investment firm. His escapades and ultimate journey to prison are chronicled in the movie, and Jordan is played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

My blog yesterday dealt briefly with the story of Rod Stewart. A look into the consequences of when celebrities are sued or are ordered to give a deposition in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit is detailed here in this CNN article/video. Andrew Greene, a former executive of the Belfort brokerage firm claims that one of the characters in the book/movie is him, and that it wrongfully portrays him as a “criminal, a drug user and a degenerate”.

The character was identified as a different name, and DiCaprio’s attorneys claim that he has no knowledge of the characters, as one of the actors, and that his knowledge is “too limited to justify the burden of a deposition”.

I have provided this brief description. I am more curious about this defamation lawsuit, because before the lawsuit, no one knew who Andrew Greene was or anything related to his supposed relationship to this character named Nicky Koskoff in the movie. So basically what this lawsuit is saying is “that degenerate, dishonest character in the film… anyone can see that it is me!”. The lawsuit is seeking 25 million for damages.

For pic o’ day, I am not fascinated with the Wolf. So, I post a picture of….

 

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