Professional reading - some notable blog posts

Here are some notable blog posts from my professional reading:

From the K&L Gates Electronic Discovery blog, there is a discussion of a D.C. Court of Appeals Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinion addressing "Discovery Services Companies."

Surprisingly, it is not "anything goes" in the District.

A Houston partner in Vorys, Sater gives major love to a 1st Circuit Daubert opinion in The Sentry That Guards Against the Tyranny of Experts

Be glad when you are in federal court and can rely on Daubert.

The Advocate's Studio has a post on How to Subpoena Social Media.

But that applies mainly to criminal investigators.  Let me guess how it is for civil litigants:  Facebook, which does business not only in every State and every County, but does business in everyone's darn house, has decreed that it can only be subpoenaed with a California subpoena, and even then, only when a totally unreasonable fee is paid.  Plus they'll drag their feet for a couple months.  That about it?  Looks like it.

Negligence per se based on traffic regulations: A D.C. refresher.

Apart from the legal issue, what I found interesting is that in one of the cases discussed, Mahnke v. WMATA, a pedestrian was hit by a bus in a crosswalk when the pedestrian had a "Walk" signal, and WMATA still defended on liability based on contributory negligence.  This was possible in part because by chance, there was an available videotape of the accident, which in WMATA's view, showed that the plaintiff did not look for oncoming traffic before stepping off the curb.  This illustrates how CCTV video is affecting litigation.  I don't know about anyone else, but I frequently see people march off the curb into a crosswalk without looking when they get a  "Walk" sign.  And frequently, they do so talking on a cell phone.

In fact, physicians at the University of Maryland have recently published a study concerning Headphone Use and Pedestrian Injury in the United States:  2004-2011.  Hat tip to Aaron Kase's blog post, Distracted Walking Injuries on the Rise, which was published on the blog (link no longer available).  I am seeing that every day now: pedestrians riding escalators while reading their smart phones or kindles, pedestrians crossing busy intersections while talking on their cell phones, and so on.  It's a standard question in pedestrian injury depositions to ask the claimant what he or she was carrying at the time; now, there should also be specific questions about any electronic devices they were using at the time.







Interactive map of U.S. highway fatalities 2001-2009

There were over 369,000 road accident fatalities in the U.S. between 2001 and 2009, and there is an interactive map showing the location of each one.    I'm not sure if this is useful information, unless perhaps you are handling a motor vehicle accident at a particularly dangerous intersection, and you may want to implead the governmental entity responsible for the road design.  If so, don't forget to give the required statutory notice of the claim. 

Hat tip to Simon Rogers of the Guardian and BeSpacific for this link.


More maps of traffic fatalities:

NHTSA maps (showing Maryland)

Google Earth Map of Maryland traffic fatalities

None of these seems as useful as the Crashstat map for New York City.

Why isn't there a Crashstat map for every State?


Professional reading -- notable blog posts

Here are some notable blog and twitter posts I've collected:

"Do it yourself tort reform:  How the Supreme Court quietly killed the class action", by Professor David S. Schwartz.  Key quote:  "Concepcion is the culmination of twenty-five years of Supreme Court arbitration jurisprudence that has turned the FAA into a do-it-yourself tort reform statute.  By adding an arbitration clause, a would-be defendant can do away with juries, with pesky discovery into its documents or employees’ testimony, and, now, with class actions."  From Scotus blog.

"Want efficiency?  Look to the little things", by Toby Brown.  In this post the author recognizes the aversion of lawyers and law firms to big changes, and therefore recommends that efficiency be pursued incrementally, in small steps.  As an example, he points to software that will create a Table of Authorities for a brief, Best Authority.  I'd be interested in buying Best Authority but for the pricing structure.  However, this post reminded me of what a miracle it was, the first time I saw Full Authority create a table of authorities.  Where's my old copy of Full Authority, and can I get it to run on Windows 7?

Virginia:  Civil Jury Trials Are On the Decline. " In 2000, there were 1,514 civil jury trials in Virginia.  In 2009, that number declined 61 percent to only 592."  This has also been true of the number of jury trials in federal courts.

Lawyers' runner gets two years in prison.  This was in Virginia.

The Essential Cloud:  Top Tools for Lawyers

  (from Attorneyatwork)

Lexis Nexis has entered the legal document market.  This is in the UK.  In the U.S., LegalZoom and RocketLawyer exist, so it would be surprising if Lexis Nexis doesn't bring its product here.

In D.C., there's a novel way to settle around another defendant, as recently discussed by the Court of Appeals.



Professional reading - recent blog posts of note

From the Electronic Discovery Law Blog, an interesting summary of a San Diego legal ethics opinion barring an attorney from making an ex parte "friend request" to a represented party. Seems to be common sense.

The Drug and Device Law Blog has a good discussion of recent Supreme Court decisions concerning personal jurisdiction in products liability cases based on stream of commerce. This is required reading.

While there, also catch their post about the status and rights of private insurers who are Medicare Advantage Organizations as secondary payers.

From the Blog of the Legal Times, we have an article about how Wilmer Cutler may or may not be facing a contingent claim of $214 million arising from a patent matter. One of the managing partners of that firm says no problemo. Move along folks, there's nothing to see here.

Brian Krebs has published a story about cutting-edge litigation relating to the liability of a bank to a commercial customer for fraudulent wire transfers from the business's account by cyber-criminals. Cyber fraud is a huge problem and it remains to be seen how legislatures and courts deal with it.

A DRI Today post provides a helpful checklist in The Top Ten Mistakes To Avoid When Preparing Coverage Opinions.

The Insurance Defense News blog has a report concerning a successful defense of a retail store in the E.D. of Virginia against the claims of a customer who banged her head on a shelf. It was an open and obvious condition, held Judge Ellis.

In a case described by the Maryland Court of Appeals as a procedural nightmare, the Court reviews the proper procedures for settling a wrongful death case.


On pruning my blog roll

Interesting observation: blogs about law office management and marketing seem to have much greater longevity than substantive blogs. Why is that?

I discovered this phenomenon while pruning my blog roll.  I think the answer is that it has to be more enjoyable to write about law office management and legal marketing.  That context lends itself to writing with flair and self expression.

Also, those types of blogs must be a lot more effective in generating business leads.  A good post on management techniques will be valuable for years.  Whereas, the latest opinion on UIM coverage is interesting for how long?

Coyotes in the suburbs

The Washington Post Magazine has an interesting article about the migration of coyotes into the East coast states, including into the big cities.  Key tip:  if you see a coyote, don't run, scare it off.  I'm still waiting for my first coyote-related case.  I suppose it is inevitable that at some point a child or infant is going to be attacked by a coyote, and then the family is going to be looking for someone to blame, someone who should have warned them of the hazard, or someone who should have put up an 8 foot fence somewhere.