February 2014

LTB default 777x437

Today’s Huffington Post Segment

If you're interested, here's this week's edition of "Legalese It," the Friday panel discussion of random legal issues hosted by Mike Sacks and (this week) featuring me, Elie Mystal of ATL and Jessica Mederson of e-Discovery Matters on the panel. We discussed…

LTB default 777x437

Rubber-Duck-Race Bill Expected to Pass in Wisconsin

Well, thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Justice's decision last year to crack down on rubber-duck racing in the village of Mishicot, having concluded said event amounted to illegal gambling, the Wisconsin legislature has had to intervene. The state constitution prohibits…

LTB default 777x437

Correction of the Day (A Few Days Ago)

From the Feb. 9 edition of the Newark Star-Ledger: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated [Gov. Christie's spokesman Michael] Drewniak referred to the Port Authority's executive director as a "piece of crap." While Drewniak did call him a "piece…

LTB default 777x437

Government Bravely Prosecutes Nun for Embarrassing It

On January 28, unexpected snow postponed the sentencing of 83-year-old Sister Megan Rice and two fellow activists in Knoxville, Tennessee. They face up to 30 years in prison for "willfully damaging federal property" (which they did) and "sabotaging national defense material" (which…

LTB default 777x437

Sasquatch in the Emergency Room

Keith Lee, who writes the Associate's Mind blog, posted this on Twitter yesterday: If you're concerned about the patients she's not treating, don't be too worried. All the chapters in the book are very short, so it will never take too long…

LTB default 777x437

New Tax Strategy: Trip and Fall at the IRS Office

Okay, "strategy" is not the right word, because far be it from me to suggest that anyone would do this deliberately. But if one were to accidentally trip on a phone cord while visiting the IRS to discuss a large unpaid tax bill, an even larger personal-injury award might just turn that frown upside down.

Such was the bad and/or good fortune of William Berroyer, Sr., who walked into an IRS office to discuss a $60,000 tax debt and walked out with an injury that led to an $862,000 judgment.

According to the court's order (the parties seem to have waived a jury), Berroyer was 61 at the time of the incident in 2008. He owed about $60,000 in back taxes, and was at the IRS office in Hauppauge, New York, to discuss that. He met with an agent in a conference room that held some file cabinets as well as the table, chairs, and a telephone with a cord that ran across the table toward Berroyer and then under the table. Although Berroyer said he was "very nervous," the meeting was amicable and they agreed on a payment plan. As Berroyer got up to leave, he tripped and fell, hitting a file cabinet. He was able to walk out, but later called from the parking lot to say that his shoulder hurt and his legs felt funny.

He was treated for a spinal injury, and later sued for $10 million.

Phone Cord

Trap-like condition

It looks like the trial did not focus on liability, probably because the IRS had to concede that the cord wasn't taped down as it should have been, creating a tripping hazard. Or, as the complaint put it, defendant used an "excessively long telephone and/or utility cord … underneath a conference room table so as to present a trap-like condition … [and] so placed as to be hidden and non-apparent." (Editing tip: something that is hidden is not apparent. Both terms not required.) But there was some question about how the trap-like condition was sprung.

LTB default 777x437

Some Words About That Badass Lawyer Ad [Updated]

It is, in fact, totally badass. With that out of the way, here are a few minor criticisms. First of all, lawyer advertising of course has to be true and not misleading. Beyond that, lawyers have a First Amendment right…

LTB default 777x437

FAA Nixes Beer Delivery by Drone

With everything this country is using drones for, they crack down on beer delivery. The video below is a commercial for Lakemaid Beer, brewed in Minnesota, and it shows a small drone being used to deliver a 12-pack of beer…