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A New Helmet of Technology

While watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the announcers told us that one player was being helped to the sidelines and then to the locker room because of “concussion-like symptoms”. Then, they showed the replay of a helmet-to-helmet hit that showed the players head being struck.

Currently the NFL has a concussion spotter and  doctors and neuro-consultants on the sideline who ask initial basic questions of a player suspected of a concussion such as: What quarter is it? Who scored last? Do you have a headache, Dizziness or NauseaWhat month is it? What day of the week is it?

The doctor on the sideline might ask certain word recall that could include the player repeating back the following words:  apple, elbow, carpet, saddle and bubble.

These are just some of the  NFL protocols in dealing with a player suspected of a concussion. Conversely, in my law practice I have seen just the opposite. Emergency technicians ask my client at the scene whether they were knocked unconscious. That is the extent of the screening. Relying on the worst historian of the possible medical condition… the person who is dealing with the symptoms.

In football, there’s some hope that there is new technology on the horizon to help identify concussions during the game. According to Fortune Magazine, Helmet-manufacture Riddell has produced a helmet called a SpeedFlex helmet, which relies on an InSite Impact Response System

It’s being tested at some Division-1 programs like Arkansas. Among other features, the helmet disperses energy at the point of impact to minimize damage and can send a signal through state-of-the-art  software, to personnel on the sideline regarding certain hits and impacts.  if an impact falls beyond a certain safe range that has been predetermined, the helmet alerts coaches wirelessly through the helmet’s software.

Attention to this problem has brought research and progress; and more importantly awareness to the issue of concussions. As a lawyer, I am glad that football has now helped to bring some education to juries regarding symptoms of concussion and the severity of a concussion that might occur in car crashes.

In the past, I had to listen to one defense doctor describe a concussion as no big deal because it was just getting your bell rung. Thankfully, I don’t think that such testimony will even be considered by a jury.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting a cartoon. The opposite of bulls running must be bulls telling jokes!

punning

Powerful Optimism Response

Headed into the weekend, I have several things on my mind. I am headed to West Virginia for a case.  Clearly on my mind. I also have the NFL in my mind because the Indianapolis Colts are playing on Sunday night.

I have to admit that as a fan,  the positive part of me wants to believe that the Colts can beat the New England Patriots. The other part of me believes that the Colts will lose by at least two touchdowns. As a fan, I guess I fear having too much hope.

That leads me to the funny story that I see occur, when I watch the Colts. It’s what the Colts Quarterback does after he gets hit by a defensive player and knocked to the ground. These players claim that they have never seen anything like it and can’t figure it out.

In an article from the Associated Press titled Andrew Luck: The NFL’s Most Perplexing Trash Talker, the reporter has interviewed players who say that quarterback Andrew Luck drives defenders crazy by complimenting them after they hit him or tackle him. They question whether its kindness or is he playing head games with them.

Luck will say things like, “great job” or “what a hit”. Patriots defender Bob Ninkovich said that one time after he pulverized Luck with a hit, Luck congratulated on the hit. Ninkovich said that he found himself not sure how to respond so he said something like “Thanks for accepting the hit?”

The Wall Street Journal contacted 12 NFL players who had hit or sacked Andrew Luck. All of them  said that he congratulated them after the hit.  Despite questioning his motive, those who know him best say that he is truly just a nice guy.

Luck is only in his third NFL season. I suppose that there will be more stories about him as he continues playing. So, if you happen to watch him on Sunday night and you see him get hit by an opposing player, you might just notice him congratulating that player. The power of a positive attitude. As a fan, I hope it’s contagious enough to carry them to a win over the Patriots!

Have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day:

following

Just No-Names

Famous Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry was asked about getting ready to play the Miami Dolphins. At the time, the Dolphins were known as a high-flying offensive team. Landry said that he wasn’t afraid of the offense, it was the defense that concerned him. He admitted that he didn’t even know any of the players’ names on the defense. As a result, he is credited with coining the phrase the No-Name  Defense.

It was this same 1972 NFL Miami Dolphins that is remembered as the only team to win the Super Bowl after going undefeated in the regular season. In fact, they used Landry’s quote as “billboard material” to fire them up. Of course, after that season, everyone knew their names.

During every football season, those remaining Miami Dolphins get together to celebrate when the last undefeated team gets beaten during the season. They are then able to continue to celebrate their accomplishment of being the only undefeated champion. That year including all regular season, playoff, and their Super Bowl victories; they finished a perfect 17-0.

I was somewhat reminded of the No-Name Defense, as we resolved a significant case last week. I counted 7 lawyers and at least 4 paralegals who had worked on the case. In this instance, the case settled for a confidential amount. It was a confidential settlement because of factors involved in the injuries as well as some remaining defendants. So, there will be no outside recognition for anyone; Despite the amount of work that they put in on the case.

I guess that truly defines personal satisfaction. A satisfaction of a job well-done that does not require the recognition from others. They all deserved the recognition. However, they truly received their satisfaction by knowing that a wrongdoer had to pay for their responsible conduct; and a family will be positively impacted by the acceptance of that responsibility. That is a job well done!

DID YOU KNOW that hippophobia is the fear of horses? I wonder what the fear of clowns riding horses is called?

And for pic o’ day…

foreign exchange

      

Monday’s Wanderings for Life

Back in the seat and blogging. Plus, I am pumped up after some football!     One week of the NFL. What does it mean. Who rules?

rule

I am told that people prefer a shorter Monday blog because they have so much to do. Today, I will try to give you something to read when you have the time. It’s an article from the Businessinsider.com titled 41 Life Hacks Everyone Should Know

Once you get through the ads, you will find such thinks as How to skip ads, or how to skip the operator. Of course, Geoff Glick and I were recently stumped by the message that we regularly hear at businesses. Why does it ask us to wait because “their options have changes”. Why does it matter, if most people have no idea about their original options?

See, that’s why these “Life Hacks” might help! Oh and, you might be interested in dead batteries or lost credit card ideas.  So… some blog thoughts after a late Colts game last night!

 

And for pic o’ day, we give some cat response to dog domination:

cat domination

Irsay Money

Even if you are only a casual NFL football fan, you probably have heard that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested (Sports Illustrated) on March 16, after an Indianapolis police officer noticed his erratic and slow driving. According to the Indianapolis Star, after Irsay was stopped by the officer, he had trouble standing, his speech was slurred and he admitted to taking several medications.

I have attached the story for more details. However, one specific detail of the arrest has raised specific questions. According to the police report,  police found $29,029 in his vehicle which included,  $14,516 in a briefcase, $2,513 in Irsay’s wallet and $12,000 in one of two “laundry” bags on the passenger’s side floorboard.

Colts

As a lifelong Colts’ fan, I was saddened by the news. I met Jim Irsay a few years ago and was left with a profound feeling that he is a very nice man. Also as a fan, I have always appreciated his actions as an owner.

Currently, Mr. Irsay is in a care facility undergoing inpatient treatment. So, no one knows why he was carrying that much cash. Fans have speculated. From Stampede Blue, one writer guessed the following with tongue in cheek:

1) The Highlander wasn’t enough trade in equity for the downpayment on a Mercedes S600 AMG.

2) His clothing launderer messed his order up and gave him a bag from the money laundry.

3) He was answering a Craiglist ad for a full collection of Affliction shirts. Cash only.

4) He was on his way home after losing the silent bid auction for the flute from the Marshall Tucker Band.

5) He was still picking up the $100 dollar bill breadcrumb trail he left behind to help him find his way home.

6) You never know when the tamale guy will magically appear at Kroger.

     Because I am known to be a rabid fan, I have been asked why he was carrying this much cash. Maybe because he is a billionaire, it didn’t seem like that much cash to him as it does to the rest of us. That’s my hope. For now, we can only look on the bright side; hope and pray that he recovers, and look forward to the day that he returns to his chair as active owner. The words of a true fan!

DID YOU KNOW that there are 158 verses in the Greek National Anthem? Seems like a long time to stand during a song!

And for pic o’ daY:

new rug

Two Things Learned

Here are a couple of quick news items that I found interesting. One is from the world of retail; The other from the world of sports.

First, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that one of my favorite men’s clothing stores in Richmond is headed for TV clothing fame. Well, in a way.   Gwen Marder, the fashion director for the Fox News Channel, has ordered 58 neckties from Peter Blair. This men’s store designs its own ties.

According to the article, Marder is responsible for dressing 200 people and many of them wear ties. So, the next time that you see a bright tie, it may have come from Richmond. This 20-year-old shop sells its ties throughout the south, which also includes shops near my South Carolina office.

The second story comes from Monday’s Peter King’s article in Sports Illustrated. He taught me something about football coaching that I had never heard. Have you ever heard of a “Get Back Coach”?

DID YOU KNOW that The NFL rules state that coaches and players must stay a certain distance back from the playing field. Because it’s real easy to end up creeping toward the playing field, each team must designate one of the coaches to be responsible to keep everyone back during the game. Before game time, the referee will ask each team who is responsible to keep everyone back. That person is the “Get Back Coach” because they have to make sure that eveyone “Gets Back!”.

DID YOU KNOW that the elephant is the only animal that has four knees. They are also the only animal that cannot jump. Truly a situation where the elephant could focus on what he can’t do… or focus on what he can do. (yes, or she)

Pic o’ day from the dog injury department:

at his legs

GPS: Getting Reckless With It

In a case of first impression, a Judge has ruled that distraction from a GPS could be a basis for punishment damages. (punitive) The logic extends from the same as texting and driving.

In the Pennsylvania case of Rockwell v. Knott, Judge Terrence R. Nealon has recognized a possible cause of action if the evidence is established that

A motorist arguably may engage in recklessly indifferent conduct, and therefore be liable for punitive damages, if (s)he completely diverts his or her attention from the roadway to observe a low-positioned GPS device, and nevertheless continues to travel on the roadway until (s)he collides with another vehicle“.

In the above styled case, the Judge dismissed that punitive claim part of the lawsuit because he did not find that the plaintiff had any evidence, that the jury could consider regarding the GPS distraction; other than the defendant having the equipment and the plaintiff making the claim in the lawsuit.

The Legal Intelligencer reporter points out another case (Kodash v. Latimer 2012) where a Judge allowed evidence of a handheld device as a possible distraction going to the jury, because there was sufficient evidence that the driver had been using the equipment at the time of the crash. Apparently, that was something like a phone operating as a GPS for that driver.

While this Rockwell case did not allow the punitive damage claim to go to the jury, it does allow for the consideration of equipment providing distraction to the driver. Based on this case, I can see the day when a GPS system could be like texting, and recognized as a driving violation. The more technology that we have, the more temptation to use it while driving.

Now, let’s stay with the equipment theme.maskcharge

Because we have just started the NFL  football season, it seemed timely to start with a DID YOU KNOW football fact. In 1888, the college football rules convention voted that players could now tackle below the waist. DID YOU KNOW that it wasn’t until 1905 that equipment like protective pads really became a part of football.

The Chicago Tribune did a story in 1905, on the injuries and deaths that were occuring regularly in football. President Theodore Roosevelt issued a statement that “I demand that football change its rules or be abolished. Brutality and foul play should receive the same summary punishment given to a man who cheats at cards!” (Ideological Critism Of the National Football League’s Increase In Helmet To Helmet Discipline)

The NFL was slow to make helmets mandatory. The last known player to play without a helmet was Dick Plasman of the Chicago Bears. He played in the 1940 NFL Championship game where the Bears beat the Redskins 73-0.

And on to a Monday pic o’ day:

zoo

Authority, Rebellion and Humanity

In his Sports Illustrated MMQB article, Peter King reminded me of the feisty conduct that former quarterback, Jim McMahon, exhibited toward authority.  The Chicago Bears were practicing for their Super Bowl game, Super Bowl XX, that was in New Orleans 26 years ago.  Jim McMahon decided that he was going to give the sports newscasters an unusual “interview”.

  As a  news helicopter flew over the practice field, he “mooned it”  for no apparent reason. He knew that this was going to bring a fine from the NFL  Commissioner. It didn’t impact the result because the Bears won the game, 46-10 over the New England Patriots.

Of course, McMahon was already angry with Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Rozelle had previously fined him $5,000 for wearing a headband with the “Adidas” logo on it. The NFL had specific  rules against players, using their equipment for advertising, by wearing unauthorized corporate names or logos.

In response to the fine, McMahon got a plain white headband, wrote “ROZELLE” in block letters, and wore it in a game. According to his Wikipedia, Pete Rozelle didn’t fine him but did give him a stern warning not to wear anything else “unacceptable”.

In response to that warning, McMahon decided to help bring attention to Juvenile Diabetes by wearing a headband simply stating “JDF Cure”. Then, he switched to one with “POW-MIA”, and finally one with the word “Pluto”, which was the nickname of a friend battling cancer.

I’m sure that you have, on occasion, had some problem with authority. We all act or react differently; or just internalize our feelings. I’m guessing that you’ve never used a headband for rebellion.

In lawsuits, the assigned Judge to the case is much like the Commissioner. Of course, they bring humanity to the Courtroom. I’ve seen judges lose their temper, fall asleep; and even hurry up a hearing because they didn’t want to be late for lunch. That’s humanity.

I’ve heard legislators quoted that a Judge was not going to be reappointed because of a bad judicial temperament or demeanor. That might be apparent during a case, but there’s really not much that can be done during trial.

As a lawyer, you can note it as an objection, for the trial transcript record. For the record, point out that the Judge just threw his glasses down or hollered at a witness. In reality, that’s not easy to do in the middle of trial. Plus, no Judge would appreciate being told that basically,  “you have a bad attitude”.

I got to thinking about this when I was recently writing about the value of the jury system. During a trial, the jury is known as “the trier of fact”. A judge may rule on admissibility and questions of law; but the jury is the “decider”.

I can’t wear a headband into the courtroom to protest a ruling; and I can’t imagine what would happen, if I even threw  my tie  in frustration.

Thankfully, the jury can see if a Judge is being fair. They can see if a witness is being truthful. And, the jury can even be forgiving when I might stumble over an argument, or even become impatient and somehow express it in an overzealous objection.

In the Courtroom,  the statue of Lady Justice  is wearing a blindfold, while holding the scales of justice. It’s a good reminder that the jury is  to weigh the evidence without influence of outside factors. It’s why I almost always  check the box on lawsuits that I file  “Jury trial requested”.  It’s a comfort level in the true authority that is deciding the case.

For pic o’ day, I’m not sure if this is about authority, or just an unusual way to just sit and watch:

Kill The Head

If you follow football or watch ESPN for more than a minute per day; you probably heard the pregame “motivational speech” that the defensive coordinator for the Saints,  gave to his defense before the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Just by happenstance, a man making a documentary was recording when Coach Williams said in part, the following, “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways. Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, affect the head. Continue tough and hit the head.”

In print it looks bad. If you heard it, you know that it sounded monotone and cold;  like some serial killer. Some have defended it.  Others, like Hall-of-fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, have said that Williams should face criminal charges.

It was a speech that addressed attacking a man to give him a head injury. The other part of the speech included going after a player’s knee and also injuring their quarterback.

Some defensive players have tried to provide some defense that includes that he really didn’t mean it. Intentionally injuring someone is just hyperbole for the violence of football.  These are probably the same people that listen to Jim Nance announce the Masters as though everything in the present is actually history; and they conclude that it’s all historical. Living in fantasy. (I just wanted to throw something in about the Masters. I did want one man to move because he was blocking my golf course view with his stomach. Yep, no pictures because no cell phones, and now I know why!)

When I heard this speech, it made me think about practicing law a bit. Recently, we have had some cases continued because there were no judges available.

The Virginia General Assembly just entered into a compromise state budget that supposedly includes money for filling 23 trial court judge positions. Unfortunately, that’s only a start.

When someone says that they want their day in court, they usually don’t think of how it will happen. Our case in two weeks has been set for almost a year. Experts from out of state and in state have been retained and they have their schedules set to come to trial. Unfortunately, most of those retainers are non-refundable and will have to be paid again for the next trial setting.

It really is a good strategy for insurance companies, lobbyists and wrongdoers. You don’t always have to donate to campaigns or causes on a large scale; just target a few on such committees as the Appropriations committee or Finance to fight funding. If there are no judges to hear the cases and no one gets appointed, then cases take longer to get to court.

Sometimes I use my blog for personal venting. Forgive me for some venting. In legal terms, one way to “Kill the Head” is  to make sure that there is no funding. No Judges… No trials. Kills Justice.

For pic o’ day, I went with two. When you take a bit of vacation and come back; sometimes it makes you wonder why you would ever leave. I thought I would find some pictures about “being busy” and these made me laugh.

   

NFL Helmets and Concussions

     I was in the middle of a brain injury case. It was a jury trial in South Carolina. The defense had their defense witness on the stand, testifying about my client’s injuries and resulting problems.

     This was the kind of doctor that had an answer for everything. He bills for medical reviews, based on how many records he reviews. That’s not that unusual, until you ask him to describe the billing practice. “I put the medical records in a pile; put a ruler next to the pile and bill by the inch”. The jury leaned forward a bit there.

     His basis for testimony that my client couldn’t have any long term effects from the crash, was compared to  his knowledge of high school football. He looked at the jury and smirked, “you know how it works out there; a football player might ‘have his bell rung’ but that doesn’t mean that he can’t play next week”.

     That testimony was back in 2004. Since that time, the public awareness of brain injuries has become more prevalent. Almost everyone has seen a news story on it and most football fans can probably  even discuss a football player that still suffers from a head injury during their career.  

     If you get the new PlayStation Madden 2011 football game, it even has players suffering concussions. Then, they are unable to play the following week. It’s make believe but it’s based on our growing knowledge of head injuries.

     Sports Illustrated is also reporting on a Virginia Tech study of NFL football helmets. According to the study just released by a professor of biomedical engineering at the college, Stefan Duma; 40% of NFL players last year, wore a helmet model that got the second lowest rating for reducing the risk of concussions.

     More attention is being paid to prevention. More players are now aware of recovery issues and long term effects. No longer is it considered a badge of honor to dust yourself off and run back in the game. Then later, brag about the fact that you played and can’t even remember really being out there.

     In jury trials, juries are now in possession of more common knowledge about the long term effects of brain injury. No longer can a defense lawyer simply pay someone to come in and testify. Well, they still might pay them to testify but it doesn’t mean that what they say carries a lot weight anymore.

     I remember hearing the illustration about the Hubble Telescope.  When it first was carried into orbit in 1990, it captured clusters and galaxies that we never knew existed. Just because we had never seen all that amazing astronomy did not mean that it was not there. We just did not have the technology to see and understand.

     In brain injuries, there is more research that helps us understand the problems and solutions of head injuries and concussions. Even better equipment for NFL players is being explored. It’s understanding and then finding solutions. Meanwhile, these defense doctors will have to come up with different testimony, if they want to keep getting paid by the defense.  Maybe the next defense will be,  “you see it but it’s not really there”.

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