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“There’s two sides to every story. I saw the video. That’s their personal business, and it shouldn’t have affected his career. I don’t agree with domestic violence, but she’s still with him, so obviously it wasn’t that big of a deal. Everyone should just drop it.”

- Random Ravens Fan Last Night

“The case is a perfect symbol of all that’s wrong with the litigation system in this country.”

Lisa Rickard,  President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association talking about the infamous lawsuit where an administrative law judge sued for $65 million claiming a dry cleaner had lost his pants

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According to Alexa, this is the most read personal injury lawyer blog in the country.

I really don’t have anything else to say about that except I really do appreciate the people who read this blog, especially those that comment, like on Facebook and Twitter, etc.

The summer is almost over, my kids will be back at school and going to bed earlier, and you can expect more blogs and a redesigned page in the fall.

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I have not done a decent roundup in a while! Here we go:

  • Walter Olson at Overlawyered provides a Maryland law roundup. Yes, this is a roundup within a round-up but most of these are most germane to our issues here. The one that is least relevant, and the most interesting, is the latest on Tavon White. I demand someone write a biography on this guy. Accumulating the power that he was able to enjoy in that environment against all odds is just fascinating as is getting four different prison guards pregnant and apparently all of them being cool with it. If you don’t live near Baltimore, you may not have heard of him. But I can’t be the only one who thought it was an amazing story. The Baltimore Sun spent three weeks gunning for a Pulitzer Prize on this story. (They won’t get one because their budget these days is about $354. But there was some good reporting done anyway.)
  • Eric Turkewitz writes about everyone’s new favorite discovery issue: Facebook. I do find it interesting to see courts attacking this new issue but it has really only been a significant issue in one case what we have had. So while the topic is fascinating, I think the actual impact on our practice has been fairly limited.
  • This is a good post from Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Blog on dealing with subrogation liens. I have written some long posts on subrogation that, if you look at the traffic on this site, few people actually read it. So I thought this post at least deserves a link because the author is passing on real information that can help you in your practice.
  • Here is a post by an Arizona lawyer complaining about the EEOC. I know little about the EEOC or employment law but I don’t think this one case tells us much about how the EEOC sausage is made and how it tastes. Does Michael Nifong tell us anything about how prosecutors in America are doing? Okay, so this post is outside my legal wheelhouse and I disagree with the conclusions. Why am I linking to it? The author is my brother-in-law. For that, you should get a link.
  • It continues to amaze me how Maryland stays in the dark ages on just about every major tort issue in spite of the fact that far more conservative states have evolved. Are Marylanders just afraid of change? Is the fact that we all have not just picked up and moved to San Diego irrefutable proof. It is not just Maryland actually: Virginia, North Carolina, and D.C. are all with us in this legal doctrine of “let’s keep the laws that made great sense 50 years ago.” But even in that group, we lag behind. Look at this summary of dram shop laws by state. We sit in last place with Nevada and South Dakota. Mississippi has us beat. It is unreal. Let me tell you: If you are lobbying for businesses interests or doctors in Maryland you are woefully underpaid.
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A Nate Silver wannabe breaks down the question of whether jury size matters in these jurisdictions, where a jury’s verdict does not have to be unanimous. Clearly, the greater concern is in criminal cases where it does seem a bit odd to convict someone to life in prison, as you can in Louisiana, on a 9-3 vote. Continue reading →

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I had jury duty yesterday which was unbelievably interesting. Turns out Anne Arundel County is a small town. The oral surgeon plaintiff might have done my root canal (it was definitely his office) and the defense lawyer represented the defendant in my first trial with Miller & Zois. (What happened in that case? Thanks for asking. We socked him with a $300,000 verdict in a low property damage case which I enjoyed sharing at the judge’s bench yesterday.)

Shockingly, I was not chosen for the jury. I’m not sure if I was struck for cause; I’m going to try to find out. Technically, I can talk about the case since I was not on the jury, but because I’m going to share my impressions of the case – based on nothing but still – I’m going to wait until the case resolves before writing about it. So look for my post next week. It was a very interesting experience where I learned absolutely nothing but really learned a lot, if that makes any sense.

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These were the five most popular posts on this blog in 2012:

  • The Internet Hates Progressive Insurance.. But Should It?: lots of visitors here from a Washington Times link.
  • Insurance Claims Adjusters Say the Silliest Things: this got a lot of interest because, well you know, insurance adjusters do say the silliest things.
  • Progressive Insurance = Just File Suit: my argument that it is largely a wasted effort trying to settle with Progressive Insurance until suit is filed.
  • Sneaky Medical Malpractice Defense Lawyer Tricks: I think this resonated with many plaintiffs’ lawyers because the games played in malpractice cases are so over-the-top. Lots of really good lawyers handle malpractice cases at some pretty low hourly rates. Arguably, some of them make up some of the difference by working the file 8,543 ways to Sunday to churn the file.
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    I never find myself writing about marital privilege. But I do have an interest in modern technology and how it will impact pre-trial discovery and admissibility of evidence. Which takes me to the new 4th Circuit opinion U.S. v. Hamilton.

    This case involves the bribery conviction of a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates who also served part-time as an administrator with the Newport News, Virginia public schools system. Basically, the guy pushed for and got a salary from Old Dominion University in exchange for getting them funding for a million dollar program called Center for Teacher Quality and Education Leadership. (FACT: 89% of all “education centers” with titles as goofy and ambiguous as this one are hopelessly corrupt.)

    Anyway, a key piece of evidence in the take down of this guy is an email that he writes to his wife about how he is trying to get this salary out of the deal, which he writes from his public school computer. So the question is whether the marital privilege applies because he used his work email account.

    For what I think are good reasons, communications between spouses have long been thought to implicate important privacy and confidentiality interests. This has led to a recognition of a marital privilege in both Maryland and federal law that makes communications between spouses presumptively confidential.

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    I was in D.C. this week with my oldest son taking in a Wizards game (they are awful) and seeing the city (which is awesome). While I was out, I got a phone call from someone wanting to speak to me about my client Joe Smith (or something like that).

    The guy was a landlord who had “gotten my email” about how my client was going to be paying his rent out of his settlement. He read to my paralegal the contents of my email to him. The email came from a Miller & Zois gmail account that, naturally, misspelled the name of our firm.

    I guess what happened is someone was late on their rent payment and decided to pretend I was their lawyer and went though the trouble of setting up an email account and impersonating me. I should get a therapist and take this up with them in greater detail but, bizarrely, I felt sort of flattered by this.(Of all the lawyers in all of the world, you picked me, Mr. Scam Artist.)

    Now, of course, the gig is up but I think the scam served its intended purpose of buying time to avoid eviction.

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    Max Kennerly writes a blog post about referral or co-counsel fees in personal injury cases, talking about a case where the lawyers agreed to a fee split but after a nice verdict, they argued about what those words actually meant with respect of carving up the fee.

    There has been talk, as Max points out, about reforming the system to not allow lawyers to fee split personal injury cases. The talk comes from advocates of tort reform who have the goal of making life more difficult for plaintiffs to bring claims.

    Such a rule would do just that. My firm spends a lot of time and effort providing information about personal injury cases on the Internet. We absolutely want to attract victims directly. No doubt. Getting 100% of the fee in a case is a lot more enticing that getting two-thirds of that fee, which is what we get when we accept a referral from another attorney. When we get a good settlement or a verdict in a case where the client came to us, either from the Internet or non-attorney referral, the words “And it is all ours” tend to slip out when discussing the case.

    Yet I put a lot of time and energy into this blog that is directed not to victims, but to other lawyers. Why? I’ll tell you. Every single year, we look at where our fees are coming from. Prior clients and victims who find us on-line are rising every year. Yet together, they do not generate nearly as much in attorneys’ fees as cases that were referred to us by another lawyer. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about volume of cases. I’m talking total fees. So, absolutely, we think the smartest approach is to direct our efforts primarily toward trying to attract other lawyers in and out of Maryland who have a personal injury case. The thinking is if they are regularly reading this blog for news and information, and using the resources on our website, they are going to think of us when they need help with a complex malpractice, accident or product liability claim. . Continue reading →

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    A new idea that might or might not take: A Saturday fact and opinion post:

    • Fact: According to Jury Verdict Research, rear end car crashes or other obvious liability cases accounted for only 45 percent of auto cases adjudicated, with the remainder comprised of intersection collisions, lane changes, chain reaction, and parking lot scenarios. In other words, a lot of claims where there was a high probability of shared liability.
    • Opinion: A big mistake insurance companies make – bless them – is contesting liability in personal injury cases where it is simply ridiculous to do so. Plaintiff’s lawyer only have so many good themes. One theme that resonates with juries is the failure to take responsibility. Defense lawyers have a hard time giving up that theoretical possibility of a defense verdict. But, their failure to do so inflates juries and inflates damages.
    • Fact: The Highway Loss Data Institute found that personal injuy claims were filed 28.5 times for every 1,000 Yaris 2009-2011 vehicles the industry insured. Among the vehicles with the least number of personal injury claims was the Porsche 911, with the lowest rate of 4.5 claims per 1,000 vehicles.
    • Opinion: All things being equal, a big car better protects occupants than a smaller, lighter one. Big cars get inferior gas mileage to small cars. We are forcing car manufacturers to make smaller cars to save the environment, help us gain energy independence, and so forth. But achieving those goals is going to cost some human lives. I’m not saying we should lower gas mileage requirements necessarily, but we should at least be talking honest about this issue. Where have you heard a serious debate on the costs of smaller cars? My kids’ piano teacher drives a smart car. I don’t know how you survive a fender bender in one of those cars.
    • Fact: The fatality rate for truck drivers in motor vehicle accidents is 29.8 per 100,000 workers per year. A little context… the fatality rate for a stuntman is 21.8 per 100,000 workers; for law enforcement, the death rate is 2.5 per 1,000 workers.

    • Opinion: The risk to truck drivers really puts into context the risk for the rest of us, because the vast majority of wrongful death trucking accident cases that we handle involve a fatality to the passenger vehicle in the crash, not the truck driver.

    • Fact: The CDC tells us that in 2010, approximately 2,700 teens between 16–19 were killed. Another 282,000 were treated and released from the ER for car accident related injuries. Another fact: Young people, ages 15-24, represent only 14% of the U.S. population but make up 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males, and 28% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.
    • Opinion: Kids not being able to drive is a huge hassle for parents and a real joy kill for teenagers. But, we need to be looking at teenage deaths and decide if the pain of pushing back the driving age is worth less dead kids. (By the way I loaded the question, you know my vote.