Monday, December 18, 2017

$5 Million Verdict Against California Restaurant for Death at Dangerous Driveway

national trial lawyers, top 100 lawyers, top 40 under 40A Los Angeles jury held an upscale Santa Monica restaurant liable for $5 million in damages in a premises liability case where a patron exited onto a dangerous driveway, cut off an oncoming motorcyclist and killed him when he fell.

Defendant Terry Allen Turner, a tourist from Oklahoma, had dinner at Geoffrey’s restaurant on the night of March 16, 2011. After dinner, he left the restaurant by turning left onto the Pacific Coast Highway. The highway is one-way street in front of Geoffrey’s restaurant.

Joseph Annocki, age 41, was riding his motorcycle southbound on the highway when he attempted to avoid Turner, who fell off of his motorcycle and was killed.

Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr, the parents of Joey Annocki, sued defendants Terry Allen Turner, Peterson Enterprises LLC, the owner and operator of Geoffrey’s restaurant Jeffrey Peterson, and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), for the wrongful death of their son.

The plaintiff attorneys are Donald G. Liddy and Paula J. Khehra, Liddy Law Firm, Pasadena, CA, and Thomas J. Johnston, Johnston & Hutchinson LLP, Los Angeles, CA. The case is Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr. v. Peterson Enterprises, LLC dba Geoffrey’s Malibu and Terry Allen Turner, No. SC112366, Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica.

Dangerous driveway

The plaintiffs contended that Geoffrey’s or Caltrans should have warned customers about the dangerous driveway leading to the one-way highway. Geoffrey’s contended the “Qwik Kurbs” or median dividers along highway were sufficient to warn customers of the one-way traffic. Caltrans claimed it had no duty to warn.

The case against Geoffrey’s was dismissed by Judge Amy Hogue. A unanimous Court of Appeal reversed, finding that Geoffrey’s had a duty to warn its customers and had notice of the dangerous condition. Particularly because of nighttime conditions, the likelihood of serious injury, the configuration of Geoffrey’s driveway, and the fact that customers are served alcohol.

The jury awarded $5 million in non-economic damages against the defendants. The jury apportioned fault Geoffrey’s Malibu 35% ($1.75 million), Terry Allen Turner 50% ($2.5 million), and Caltrans 15%. Caltrans settled before trial for $1 million.

The court has been asked to approve prejudgment interest of $866,863.68 against Geoffrey’s Malibu, and prejudgment interest of $892,463.79 against Terry Allen Turner.

The plaintiff’s final demand was Peterson Enterprises, LLC:  $1 million on December 26, 2012, and Terry Turner: $125,000 on May 15, 2014. Defendant Peterson Enterprises, LLC offered $500,000.

The plaintiff experts were Brad Avrit, civil engineer, Los Angeles, CA, and Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance, CA.


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Friday, December 15, 2017

HLS in the World (Opening Ceremony) Chief Justice Roberts's Remarks


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NJ Jury Awards $15M in Ethicon Pelvic Mesh Verdict

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

 A Bergen County, NJ, jury awarded $15 million to a New Jersey woman who sued Johnson & Johnson after receiving a defective pelvic mesh implant in 2008 that left her in chronic pain

The jury found that one of the two Prolift pelvic mesh devices that plaintiff Elizabeth Hrymoc, of South River, NJ, received in 2008, was defective. It ruled that Ethicon, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that designed the product, failed to adequately warn the woman about the severe chronic pain she suffered.

The jury awarded Hrymoc $4 million for pain and suffering and $1 million for loss of conjugal affection, and assessed $10 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.

The verdict came after nearly three weeks of argument and testimony in just the second pelvic mesh-related lawsuit to go to trial in New Jersey out of nearly 9,000 that are pending.

For more, click NorthJersey.com.


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Combating the Rise of Commoditization: 3 Ways Legal Video Allows You to Stand Out From the Competition

With 1.3 million attorneys currently practicing in the United States and 35,000 hopeful law students graduating annually, to say that the legal industry is crowded is a gross understatement. The legal industry has an overabundance of attorneys all marketing themselves for similar skills, and while their background and education may differ, their end goal is the same: to run a successful business, represent clients, and practice law.

When you couple this overcrowding with the urgent need to drive business, many attorneys run the risk of commoditizing themselves. In a world where potential clients want answers immediately (and at a 25% discount, no less) it can be appealing to market yourself as an affordable and immediate solution to their problems.

But when you do that, you’re marketing yourself solely based on your ability to provide legal services rather than the value you provide. This not only dehumanizes your firm, but seriously devalues your abilities as an attorney and as a human.

With this in mind, it may seem daunting to promote yourself as the top choice in your market and stand out from the pack. And for many attorneys, promoting yourself as the top choice isn’t just daunting – it’s almost impossible. This is especially true when small firm attorneys try to go toe to toe against goliath firms with infinitely deep pockets and a never ending marketing budget.

So, what do you do? Do you throw in the towel? Do you retreat back to your desk and wait for the phones to ring, all the while wondering whether or not you’ll be able to keep your firm’s doors open?

The answer lies in the power of legal video marketing.

Legal video marketing, when done right, allows you to differentiate your law firm from the competition in three key ways:

 

  • Legal video allows you to humanize your firm through emotional storytelling

 

When potential clients are searching for an attorney, they’re not filtering their search results based on how many combined years of experience you have. And when they come to your office for a consultation, they’re not drawn to the law degree hanging on your wall – they’re drawn to the human behind the desk.

The vast majority of people seeking legal representation are not in those situations voluntarily. They’re scared, frustrated, confused, and they need answers. In these situations, scrolling through attorney biographies on legal websites that all look identical will not provide them what they desperately need: the comfort provided by someone who genuinely understands what they’re going through.

Here’s what this means for your video marketing strategy:

If you can work to create a legal brand video that introduces you as a person, not just as an attorney, and encapsulates your firm’s unique value proposition – what makes your firm different than your competition – you will be able to take advantage of a powerful persuasion technique that will establish an immediate connection with potential clients that compels them to convert.

Emotion is a powerful psychological phenomenon, and it has a larger impact on decision making than you’d think. In fact, scientists have found that 90% of our decisions are driven by emotion. This contradicts the common assumption that smart, informed decisions come from a “cool head” — relying on logic alone is not the best way to make a decision, so it also isn’t the best way to encourage people to make decisions.

Instead, if you incorporate emotional messaging into your video marketing strategy, you’ll make it easier for potential clients to make a decision.

Rachel Gillett of Fast Company has this to say about processing emotional stories and arguments: “When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well. What this means is that it’s far easier for us to remember stories than the cold hard facts because our brains make little distinction between an experience we are reading about and one that is actually happening.”

 

 

  • Legal video establishes and enhances social proof through client testimonials

Social proof is a powerful buzzword in the marketing industry. In layman’s terms, social proof is what happens when our decisions are influenced by the actions of others. When you’re standing in a room full of people who are all looking at the ceiling, chances are, you’re going to look too.

Social proof is the reason why online reviews on Google or Amazon are such a powerful selling tool, and why sites like Yelp play a huge role in deciding where we’re going out to dinner this weekend. In fact, 70% of Americans will trust a review from someone they don’t even know, and 63% of Americans are more likely to purchase something from a website that includes customer reviews.

For attorneys, social proof is packaged in the form of client testimonials and online reviews. Every time a client reviews you on Avvo, Google, Facebook, or your website, they’re adding social proof to your online presence.

Here’s a fact to consider: social proof is proven to be more convincing with pictures and videos. That means we’re more likely to believe something is true if there is an image associated with it.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but what about video? Potential clients want to put a face to a testimonial. It solidifies the truth behind the claim and personalizes their story, so they’re not just reading text on a website.

Testimonial videos can be a powerful strategy to enhance your firm’s social proof online and differentiate your firm from the competition.

At Crisp Video Group, we avoid producing legal videos without testimonials at all costs. We would prefer to let the client tell your story, because it’s more believable and usually more compelling (this ties back into the power of emotional storytelling).

To put this in perspective, check out the video we produced for NTL Attorney Christopher Brough, a Criminal Defense Attorney in Spartanburg, SC. The client testimonial featured in Christopher’s video described Christopher’s courtroom demeanor, in his exact words, by saying this: “The second we stand in that courtroom, it’s like taking your attack dogs and cutting the leash loose. He’s there for you 100%.”

Now, imagine if Christopher had used those words to describe himself – would they have been as believable?

 

 

 

  • Increase perceived brand authority through high-quality video content

You’re probably not the only attorney in your market who will incorporate legal video into their content strategy. But, for better or worse, many attorneys who produce legal videos don’t create or distribute them effectively, which means they won’t see the results that are possible with high-quality legal video.

Many attorneys are under the false assumption that all it takes to see results from legal video is to have the video produced. While that is certainly part of the equation, most of the results you’ll see from your video will come long after you stop filming. Results rely not only on ensuring you’re producing high-quality content, but also distributing that content in the right places.

You’ll notice we mentioned the term ‘high-quality’ three times in this section, and that was intentional.

Google recently rolled out an algorithm update that transforms the way they measure SEO quality content. Whereas before many people may pursue first page rankings through keyword stuffing and ‘link juicing’, today’s SEO algorithm depends largely on the customer experience.

Google is likely to index websites that people spend more time on, and video helps with that factor. But, if you include a low-quality video on your site that isn’t enjoyable to watch, it impacts the time spent on site, which will hurt your SEO rankings.

So what does that have to do with brand authority? More than you’d think.

While it can be hard to quantify perceived brand authority, it’s easy to make the connection between quality content and perceived competence. If you were to visit the site of a new case management software you were hoping to implement, and the product overview video was poorly shot and didn’t provide you with a valuable experience, would you still purchase it?

Now, consider that same experience in a high-stakes situation like searching for the attorney who will be in charge of protecting your constitutional rights.

If you produce a series of high-quality, engaging videos that provide value, answer their questions, and ease their concerns, it will boost your overall brand authority and differentiate your firm from the competition.  It will also give you a nice organic SEO boost, which improves your chances of achieving higher search placement.

Bringing it All Together: Combating the Rise of Commoditization

At the end of the day, the best way to bring in new clients is to introduce them to who you are, not just what you do. If you form your entire content strategy around the services you offer rather than the problems you can help them solve, potential clients will begin to view you as a commodity rather than a person.

Don’t make the mistake of dehumanizing yourself in order to appeal to a broader audience. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and leveraging legal video to tell your story may cost you a few leads, but the clients you’ll gain from these efforts will be all the more valuable (both literally and figuratively) because they truly want to work with you due to the connection your video helped to establish. In the process, you will put leagues between your firm and your competitors and you will find yourself becoming the obvious choice in your market.

If you want to learn more about how you can leverage legal video to grow your law firm, you can download our free eBook here.

Michael Mogill is the Founder and CEO of Crisp Video Group (http://www.crispvideo.com/legal), a national legal video marketing company that produces high-quality and engaging legal videos for attorneys all over the country. Crisp Video is consistently recognized for creating engaging legal videos that help attorneys see a 2 to 10 times increase in average case values. By simply bringing in higher-value cases, attorneys who produce videos with Crisp Video see an average return on investment of 300% and routinely double and triple their revenue — sometimes within just 6 months. He has been featured in Forbes, The National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, ABA, PILMMA, The Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.


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New AAJ Report Details a Year of Heinous Corporate Misconduct

From Takata’s lethal airbags to Monsanto ghostwriting scientific data, to drug companies profiting from the opioid crisis, corporations have time and again put profits before the health and safety of Americans.

A report released Wednesday by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017, details this year’s worst corporate offenders, the aggressive corporate culture plaguing the United States, and the need for a strong civil justice system to make sure consumers and workers can hold corporations accountable and deter corporate misconduct.

As the report indicates, there are no signs that corporations intend to slow down their attack on Americans as they cut their compliance budgets and attempt to free themselves from regulation.

“The misconduct highlighted in this report is a stark reminder that corporations will stop at nothing to protect their profits – even if that means putting consumers and workers at risk,” said Kathleen Nastri, President of AAJ.  “As this report clearly illustrates, Americans need access to the courts so they can get justice and stand up to the onslaught of misconduct.”

One particularly timely section of the report is dedicated to Fox News, which for years has covered up rampant sexual harassment using forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts. Finally, in August of this year, the network revealed that it had paid nearly $50 million to settle sexual harassment and discrimination cases during the previous fiscal year.

Instances of sexual harassment, like those at Fox News, illustrate the need for reform to compel corporations to improve work environments and rein in misconduct.  The “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act,” which was introduced in both the House and Senate last week with bipartisan support, would restore workers’ rights by putting an end to the abusive practice of forced arbitration in workplace sex discrimination claims and give survivors of sexual harassment the opportunity to fight for justice in court.

Click here to download the full corporate misconduct report.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Beasley Allen files opioid lawsuit on behalf of Greenville, Alabama

Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the City of Greenville, Alabama, against a number of manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid medications. The complaint alleges the marketing of these drugs contributed to the creation of the opioid epidemic, a public health and safety crisis, and as a result of responding to the opioid crisis within its communities the City of Greenville has sustained economic damages and continues to incur a significant financial burden. The City of Greenville is represented by Beasley Allen lawyers and National Trial Lawyers member Rhon E. Jones, who is head of the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Ryan Kral.

“These manufacturers aggressively pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, turning patients into addicts for their own corporate profits,” Jones said. “The manufacture and distribution of these dangerous drugs, along with the intentional misrepresentation to doctors and the public about their risks, breached these companies’ legal duties under federal and state law. Rather than investigate suspicious orders of prescription opiates, they simply pocketed the profits at the expense of the public.”

Economic damages resulting from the opioid epidemic include costs for providing medical care, therapeutic care and treatments for patients suffering from opioid-related addiction or disease, including overdoes and deaths; costs for providing counseling and rehabilitation services; costs for treating infants born with opioid-related medical conditions; public safety and law enforcement expenses; and care for children whose parents suffer from opioid-related disability or incapacitation.

Defendants include Purdue Pharm a L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, LTD.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Noramco, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Allergan PLC f/k/a Actavis PLS; Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. n/k/a Actavis, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis, LLC; Actavis Pharm a, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc.; Mallinckrodt plc; Mallinckrodt LLC; McKesson Corporation; Cardinal Health, Inc.; and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation.

The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Facts About Drunk Driving

As a licensed driver in Georgia, you’re well-aware of the fact that you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. But how much do you actually know about drunk driving? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes – that’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016.” The NHTSA continues, “Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely."

In Georgia, the offense of drunk driving is covered under O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. Under Section 40-6-391(a), it says, “A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle” while they are under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it makes him or her less safe to drive. It’s also illegal to drive under the influence of any drug, glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent it’s made it less safe for the person to drive.

Now that you have a basic understanding of DUI, let’s take a look at some drunk facts that the average person is not aware of:

  • A DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony, but most DUIs are misdemeanors.
  • A person can be charged with DUI even if they had little to drink. Their blood alcohol content (BAC) can be less than the .08% legal limit and they can still be charged.
  • Many medications are very dangerous if mixed with alcohol and actually intensify the effects of alcohol.
  • Coffee, energy drinks and a cold shower do not sober a person up, only time does.
  • If a drunk driver is in an accident, they can face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit (personal injury claim) filed by the victims.
  • A felony DUI can trigger removal proceedings for Green Card holders.
  • A DUI typically leads to a driver license suspension for the accused.
  • A DUI can lead to loss of employment, the denial of scholarships, and the denial or cancellation of a professional license.
  • A DUI leads to a permanent criminal record.
  • Stress can lead to alcohol abuse, which can lead to addiction.
  • Alcohol abuse is linked to violence, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  • Impairment starts after the first sip, so it’s important to never drink and drive!

Hit By a Drunk Driver?

Has your life been turned upside-down because of a drunk driving crash? Even if the drunk or drugged driver is facing criminal charges, you can still file a personal injury claim. To learn more, contact our firm to meet with a Kennesaw personal injury lawyer for free!


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