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DO I HAVE A CASE?

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     William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were vocal political adversaries in Great Britain. From 1874-1880, Disraeli was Prime Minister. He replaced Gladstone in 1874; and then Gladstone replaced him in 1880. So, the parallels of their lives were studied as was their personalities.

     One lady had the opportunity to dine with both of them during a week leading up to election in 1867. When the reporter asked her  to give her opinion of the two statesmen, she replied, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”

     I subscribe to a blog written by lawyer Don Keenan. He recently wrote about a trial that he had, when he was a “puppy lawyer”. It was a case involving some complex medicine and records. Keenan said that the defense lawyer was able to do his cross examination of the doctors without notes. He would even reference specific pages of “colloaborative studies”. The jury seemed mesmerized by the defense lawyer’s knowledge and delivery.

     At the end of the case, the jury came back with a significant verdict for Keenan’s client. When the jury was dismissed, Keenan said that he had some expectation that they would come over to his table and congratulate him, just like he had seen in the movies.

     Instead, the jury went right over to the defense lawyer and asked what they described as the question on all of their minds, “Tell us, you are a doctor as well as a lawyer, aren’t you?” Then, they continued to tell that defense lawyer just how impressed they were with him.

     Finally, one of the jurors came over to Keenan. They told him that while they were impressed with the other lawyer that they really couldn’t understand much about what he was talking about. It made Keenan realize what was really important in the Courtroom.

     Both of these stories are good reminders. Among other lessons, life really isn’t about trying to impress others with your own knowledge and skills; a real skill is to focus on what others want. 

     For pic o’ day I went cartoon. It makes me laugh. It seems like it really could happen:

Jumping Ship

    I am hitting the exits; Take this job and shove it; Elvis has left the building; I’m Papa John and I am delivering my resignation; See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya; I am jumping ship.

     You can tell by my previous paragraph that I am getting a bit carried away. The above is a  collection of sayings that could be said by someone who is “proudly” leaving their place of employment. Yes, I did throw a few of my own creations. 

     “Jumping Ship” has come  to be known as a term of someone taking control of their destiny. It has even been used to indicate the actions of Democratic candidates, when being associated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  The real basis is connected to such work as the 19th Century English coal trade.

     During the 19th century, hundreds of seaman lost their lives, while sailing on ships that were dangerously overloaded. At that time, there was no regulation as to how much coal  that could be put on a ship. As a result, the more coal, the more profits. Thus, ships would be loaded up to the deck line and make sailing a life or death propostion.

    It is reported that in 1873, 411 ships sailing from England sank, and took countless men to a watery grave. Despite the sight of an overloaded ship, once a seaman signed on for work, he could not back out or he was charged with “jumping ship”, which was considered a criminal offense. For the profit seeking owners, they won either way. If the coal made it, they made money; If the ship sank, insurance paid them for their losses. The sheer numbers showed that “corporate England” did not care about these sailors or these “coffin ships”.

     Samuel Plimsoll   was a British politician who campaigned and is best remembered for developing the Plimsoll Line.  He introduce legislation to get restrictions on how much coal could be shipped. Not surprisingly, he faced great pressures from ship owners and even the British Prime Minister of that day, Benjamin Disraeli. The ultimate adoption of his measurement “Plimsoll Line”, as well as the overall Merchant Shipping Act, is credited with saving many lives.

     I have given you a brief history and example of when government regulation made a difference. Today, politicians are jumping on the theme of “less government”, as an excuse to eliminate government regulations.

     I received a copy of this months Costco “My Business”. It has 3 pages of small business political ads. The premise,  in reaching out to people like me,  is to encourage voting for pro-business candidates. On its face, that sounds like real free enterprise. However, if you look closer at each of these ads, you will notice the words, “Do you stand for an end to burdensome, intrusive government regulations?”

     I just saw a news story about the FDA announcing a significant restriction in the the allowance of prescriptions for the diabetes drug,  Avandia. The FDA is “regulating” this drug, to only be prescribed in limited indications, when no other treatment options exist. To date, 47,000 heart attacks have been attributed to Avandia.  Already, the drug has been banned in Europe. The manufacturer has been fighting restriction and recall.

     A fine line exists between what is right for business, and what is government intrustion. Unfortunately, when profits are at stake, business has been shown to put profit over safety. ” No government” sounds good from a bully pulpit. Unfortunately, there are still those that have that 19th Coal shipping mentality. Next man up for the profit of the company.   Sometimes we better be careful, because we just might get what we ask for.

Start Your Engines

     I am starting a jury trial tomorrow, which means that I am putting the finishing touches on the jury instructions, exhibits, verdict form and all other last minute things that will go into the rolling briefcase tomorrow. I titled this “Start Your Engines”, which means a lot to race fans. It’s where I am emotionally, right before a trial.

     I also like to use the illustration of horses. In Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, you could see them pulling the horses into the gate. I know that it’s crazy to think that we could read a horse’s mind but I don’t think, at that moment, that they were wishing for a lump of sugar or an apple. Right then, they are waiting for that gate to open.

     Well, that’s my mindset right now. It’s a sign of the times that I have 4 jury trials this month that appear to all be going forward. Tomorrow, to my amazement, the defense still has not admitted liability. This, despite the fact that witnesses all testify that their driver is at fault. Unfortunately, this is the approach that I am seeing more and more. There is failure to accept responsibility. In this instance, I’m hoping that the jury says, “boom goes the dynamite.”

     It’s always interesting to see the positive spin that a defense attorney will put on a case. I’ve said in past blogs that I suspect that their hope is to get some juror, who is just in a bad mood and refuses to listen to the evidence. I finally found a story that seems to sum up what I am talking about.

     A couple always wanted a place by the water but couldn’t afford it. Then, they found a public restroom that they fixed up and are now living in it.  They took out all the toilets and say that people often ask them if they are the couple “that lives in the lavatory”. (it is a story from England)

     Anyway, I am posting at the bottom, the before and after pictures. The article even has interior photos.  The analogy to this blog- well, it seems to me that in tomorrow’s case, the defense is trying to put a “good face on a bad set of facts”. OK, maybe you think this story has nothing to do with the blog. You have to admit that it is impressive to turn a bathroom into waterfront property. Plus, I didn’t want to really discuss the story about the White Castle Burger scented candles. You made me do it by doubting my analogy!

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