Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Crime Doesn't Pay if You Can't Get it Right

Inept Criminal

A Wells Fargo branch in Miami was robbed last Thursday morning when a man showed a teller a weapon, then reached over the counter and took an undisclosed amount of currency.

The robber then proceeded to make his getaway on a motorcycle with the cash stashed in a backpack. As he sped down Interstate 75 the money was flying out of the backpack along the highway.

According to the FBI some people stopped to pick up money along the road. Agents said that they should return the money immediately, but none had been returned as of Friday afternoon, nor had the robber been apprehended.

In my blogs I try to deal with issues related to the legal system, particularly accident law, but occasionally I can’t help interjecting a humorous item such as this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Discrimination against males

video



To view a video introduction of today’s blog by Don, click on the arrow above.




Although sex discrimination cases on behalf of women have been the norm since enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a lawyer for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has noted that an increasing number of men have become more comfortable about complaining that they have been mistreated at work because of their sex.. According to the attorney, “A growing number of men are coming forward and saying those types of things, such as ‘I can’t get a secretarial job.’”

It is predicted that more such suits are “in the pipeline”.





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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Law Student Glut

A recent survey reveals that nearly 30% of law students will graduate this year with more than $120,000 in student debt. On top of this, large law firms are cutting back in hiring and many have dropped the salaries for new associates.

The president of the American Bar Association has lobbied the White House and Congress to convert private debt to federal debt and to provide a three-year deferral for debt repayment for unemployed law graduates, but it is doubtful that there will be much support for having ordinary tax payers come to the rescue of law grads.

The sad fact is that there is a glut of lawyers in the United States, but this has not deterred the law schools from continuing to churn out tens of thousands of new law graduates every year. Young college graduates with stars in their eyes are still being captivated by the romantic notion of a professional career as an attorney. It sounds prestigious. It sounds like a ticket to a big six-figure income. Many care little about money, but see a law degree as a road to help make a better society.

With all of these dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads aspiring law students seldom give much thought to the consequences of taking on huge amounts of debt or to a realistic evaluation of the chances of being able to pay off the debt without significant hardship. The only ones who have a chance to land the high-paying jobs with the big law firms are the top students from the top law schools which are only a tiny percentage of the lawyers coming out of the country’s hundreds of law schools each year.

In my opinion the main fault in this broken system lies with the law schools who continue to feather their own nests with their siren song to their unwary prospects. The more students that they can attract, the more money keeps flowing into their coffers. The law schools are not accepting any risk here; they get paid, and the burden falls squarely on the hapless law graduate who finds himself/herself with the prized degree in hand, but with no job or with a job that does not pay enough to allow repayment of the debt together with a comfortable life style.

It is a sad situation with no prospect of being fixed in the foreseeable future, but there ought to be a way to send a clear warning to anyone considering a career in the law.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

News you should not miss

Here are some items that recently hit the news, but only lightly, and only somewhere buried deep inside the paper (and probably not at all in your local rag), which you might have missed:

The North Face has brought suit against The South Butt, a company started by a teenager to help pay for college, for trademark infringement on the ground that the names are so similar that it amounts to piracy of North Face’s “famous” trademark. Furthermore North Face complains about the similarity of the South Butt tag line of “Never Stop Relaxing” to North Face’s “Never Stop Exploring”. South Butt’s retort: “If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.” No comment on my part required here.

The federal government has agreed to pay $3.4 billion to settle claims that it mismanaged funds held in trust for certain Native American tribes. The Interior Department manages about 56 million acres of Indian trust land scattered across the country and handles leasing rights for mining, livestock grazing, timber harvesting and drilling for gas and oil. It then distributes the revenues to American Indians. In the 2009 fiscal year it collected about $298 million for more than 384,000 individual Indian accounts. The lawsuit accuses the department of mismanaging that money. I had no idea that there were that many Indians in the USA, but if you divide the annual amount collected by the number of accounts, it looks like each Indian will get about 78 cents, and about $88.54 each out of the settlement. You have to wonder just who qualifies as an “Indian”, and even then this settlement applies only to designated tribes, not all Indians.

On a matter which is not really at all related, The University of North Dakota is fighting to keep using the “Fighting Sioux” as its mascot in the face of an NCAA directive that member schools stop using Native Americans as mascots. One of the two Sioux tribal councils in the state agreed to continued use of the name by the university and brought suit to stop the other tribal council from scuttling the deal, asserting that many of the American Indians opposed to the Fighting Sioux nickname are simply from tribes other than Sioux and are jealous of the recognition. As one member of the tribe said, “I am full blood and I grew up on the reservation. I have to tell you, I am very, very honored that they would use the name.” See there, not all law suits are totally serious, some are just for fun.



Friday, November 27, 2009

Stats show that thousands of people die or are seriously impaired each year as a result of mistakes by doctors and hospitals. Isn't it fair that the victims of these errors, or their surviving family members, should be compensated? Presumably this system of medical malpractice claims not only provides fair compensation to people who have suffered, but it also makes health care providers take more care to avoid these tragic mistakes. On the other hand opponents of this system claim that the system increases health care costs for all of us by causing docs and hospitals to go overboard by ordering excessive and unnecessary tests. I was somewhat shocked while watching a panel on ESPN last night to see Howard Dean, the Democratic party leader, say that the only reason that Democrats oppose tort reform (laws to limit recovery by accident or malpractice victims) is that they are dependent on large political donations by trial lawyers. I am not sure of what the real answer is to this question, but I do know that in Texas, where there are severe limitations on medical malpractice claims, the insurance industry has not seen fit to offer lower premiums for malpractice insurance. I have also seen conflicting claims that studies have shown that the threat of malpractice claims either do, or do not, motivate health care providers to order excessive expensive testing. Which side of this debate is correct, I am not sure, but it is important that more surveys and studies be done to find out which is right. I suspect that an honest evaluation will reveal that the cost of compensating malpractice victims is a minor burden on the overall cost of health care.

Okay, so I don't really think that considering this question is a waste of your time, but I can't be held to be wasting your time all of the time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I hope that you saw the 60 Minutes program last night (11/21) concerning the billions of dollars that Medicare (that's our tax dollars) is spending on the last month of life for thousands, perhaps millions, of dying elderly patients. In many cases these people are kept on life support in a hospital or nursing home and are subjected to numerous tests and procedures. The result is that they may live an extra month, but with a quality of life that no one would want. When will we wake up to the fact that our health care system is outrageously expensive, is not particularly effective and continues to rise at an unsustainable rate? We simply cannot afford, nor do we need, many of the tests and procedures to which patients, especially the elderly, are routinely subjected. In our service to accident victims at Lowry & Associates we see medical and hospital bills every day, and it never ceases to alarm me when I see the astounding amounts that are being charged. I think that the 60 Minutes program said that Medicare spends an average of $55,000 during the last month of life of Medicare recipients. Of course treatment of the elderly is not the only place where excessive amounts are being spent on patient care, but getting a handle on just that one aspect of health care could result in billions of savings to provide basic health care to people who can't afford it now.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memories of my Dad

This is a eulogy I gave at a memorial service for my Dad in Boston on Thursday, July 16, 2009

I have heard stories all of my life about the special attention that my Dad paid to patients in the hospital who were facing difficult personal issues. He went out of his way to help all sorts of people – from a gypsy king to a famous folk singer to a teenager with a broken family. We sometimes kidded him that he had a special soft spot for damsels in distress, but his capacity for caring was legendary.

These are stories I only heard about from various sources however, not things that I personally observed.

Today I would like to share with you some of my own recollections of events which may give you an insight into the warmth and generosity that defined my Dad’s character.

Dad was always an ardent photographer. I remember one time in early 1942 when I was seven and my brother Dave was five, just before Dad left to fight the war in the Pacific. Davy and I were horsing around on the lawn of our aunt’s house in Pasadena, and Dad was snapping photos. I was particularly proud to show how I could stand on my head, and this feat was greatly admired by Dad whose photos are the reason I remember it.

Throughout my junior high and high school days Dad was always there taking a keen interest and lending support and encouragement. He was at my football games and my scout meetings, my choral concerts and high school plays. He and my Mom were chaperones at dances and for our senior class outing at the beach.

Dad was not a very strict disciplinarian, but he would never hesitate to set us straight when the situation required it. I remember when we moved into a new house in Westwood when I was about 13 years old. The front yard was just dirt with lots of rocks which had to be removed in preparation for putting in a new lawn. This seemed to me to be an ideal opportunity to practice my pitching, so I was picking up each rock and, after a full windup, tossing it onto the vacant lot next door. Dad saw this and pointed out to me that this would not do, as it would take weeks at the rate I was going to clear the rocks from the yard.

Some of my most cherished memories of Dad are from a week we spent together exploring the islands and harbors of Casco Bay in Maine on his boat, Sequester. I doubt that there is any body of water in the world that has more interesting places, and Dad and I had a wonderful time exploring many of them. I will never forget those evenings anchored in the calm of an inlet or river estuary with a steak on the barbeque at the stern and a martini in hand. It was just the two of us, and I could not think of any place I would rather be or anyone I would rather be with.

He was always ready to lend a hand with whatever projects we had. When I ran for Congress in 1976 shortly after his retirement from the hospital he came to Maine and helped me with my campaign (which fortunately for me and for the country, was not successful).

The gifts he gave at Christmas were never perfunctory, but always given after careful thought. He discovered that I had an interest in recorders, so for one Christmas he gave me a beautiful tenor recorder. Although I have fallen far short of mastering the instrument, it has given me many hours of great pleasure—and still does to this day.

But for all of the wonderful times and for all of the ways that he helped me throughout my life, I am most grateful to him for the values he instilled in me by his example. There was never a hint of arrogance in anything he did, and he treated all people, of whatever station in life, with dignity and respect. He never refused to help anyone when that help was within his reach. He was a shining example in my life, and although I have often fallen short, I will be forever thankful for the life compass that was the greatest gift from my Dad.

Robert D. Lowry passed away on June 22, 2009, at age 95