Tips to Prevent Children’s Deaths from Hot Cars

As temperatures reach 100 (and above) in Macon and around Georgia and other areas of the country, I’m reminded of the dangers posed by hot cars, especially for small children. Consumer Reports has reported that 15 children have already died this year as a result of heatstroke after being left in hot cars.  This can happen to anyone, and it is just heartbreaking to read the stories of good, loving parents who got unusually stressed or changed their routine and just forgot about a child in the backseat of a car.  Heatstroke can happen very quickly in the summer temperatures, so here are some important tips that can help avoid leaving a child in a hot car:

  • Leave a stuffed toy or animal on the front seat as a visual reminder of the child in the backseat
  • Put your cell phone, purse or briefcase in the backseat so you have to look in the backseat to remove them at your destination

There are more important tips in the article on Consumer Reports website and another very good resource is


Citizen Alert: Special Interests Trying to Take Away Our Right to Trial By Jury in Medical Malpractice Cases

One thing that many large corporations and insurance companies can’t stand is that ordinary citizens in Georgia and across the United States have the right to trial by jury in civil cases.  This sacred right runs against the mindset of those who believe that only large companies and the wealthy should get to make the rules.  Whether it’s environmental contamination, medical negligence, unsafe trucks on the road or defective products, many companies would rather blame their victims for the harm they cause instead of acting more safely.   Juries scare these companies because juries can make them act more safely and hold them responsible when they don’t.

These special interests are always on the prowl, looking for ways to take away our rights, often by passing laws that close the courthouse doors to us.  But the problem is that these companies can’t just come out openly and say “we want to enact laws that take away your right to trial by jury and that deny you the right to hold us accountable when we harm you, harm your families, harm your neighbors or damage your property.”  They know everyone would reject such obvious attempts at one-sided legislation.

Instead, these corporations and their allies in the PR business are much slicker than that – they come up with really nice-sounding names for their proposed laws so we won’t seek the rotten core of what lurks beneath the surface.  One such recent attempt in Georgia is by an outfit calling itself the “Patients for Fair Compensation” and they are trying to get the Georgia legislature to adopt a law – called the Patient Injury Act – that takes away our right to trial by jury in cases where Georgia citizens are injured by the actions of corporate hospitals and healthcare providers.  As Georgia Watch reports, this group is actually led by healthcare industry executives who are seeking to shut the courthouse doors for the oldest of reasons – they don’t want to be responsible to us for the terrible harms that can be caused by medical negligence.

Ordinary citizens who cause a wreck on the road or otherwise harm someone can be held accountable by a fair jury of 12 citizens in Georgia.  Why should these healthcare corporations and other monied special interests get special privileges that the rest of us don’t have?  There is no reasonable excuse for this type of law that takes away our Constitutional rights, and we should let our Georgia lawmakers know we won’t accept it.  Please take a minute to call your Georgia state legislator and let them know that you don’t approve of Senate Bill 141.  And if they vote for it, let’s hold them responsible at the ballot box.

Risk of Fire and Injury from Home Dryers

I wanted to share some information that I came across about the dangers associated with dryers in homes.  According to this recent article by Brian Dakss at, dryers account for 15,000 house fires every year.   That number was a bit of a surprise to me.  An engineer with Underwriters Laboratory, John Drengenberg, mentions in the article that a common cause of these fires is lint.  The lint can build up in the lint trap, according to Drengenberg, and cause excessive heat and eventually a fire.

So, what should we do?  Drengenberg advises folks to clean the lint trap before or after every load, and each year the pipes and exhaust vent should be cleaned thoroughly.  Also, we should not put certain items stained with oil or gasoline in the dryer, and should avoid putting rubber or plastic items in the dryer as well.

One clue to look for to determine if lint is building up is that your clothes are not drying as well as they should.


Spinach Recalled in 39 States, Including Georgia, for Possible E Coli Contamination

Possible Enterohemorraghic E. Coli (EHEC) contamination of baby spinach caused a recall of spinach sold by Taylor Farms Retail, Inc.  This is a strain of E Coli that can cause severe infection with associated abdominal cramps and diarrhea.  The spinach is sold in 5 oz. and 16 oz.trays under the following names:

  • Central Market Organics
  • Full Circle Organics
  • Marketside Organics
  • Simple Truth Organics
  • Taylor Farms Organic

The spinach has a “best by” date of February 24, according to the article in the Huffington Post by Hunter Stuart.  This is a helpful reminder that just because produce is labelled “Organic” doesn’t mean we don’t have to thoroughly wash it before consuming it.

My family and I do buy organic whenever possible and we will continue to do so, with proper precautions, as with all produce.

Zen and the Art of Trial Advocacy

I’ve been listening to a terrific set of audio tapes called Stop Your Whining and Go to Trial by Rick Friedman and Don Bauermeister. It draws on the most recent research on the way our brains react to certain themes and stories and applies this research to trials.  Some of the advice is familiar and some is quite new. For example, we are reminded that we need to claim the moral high ground at trial and that showing bad choices made by the liable parties is important in doing so. This is probably not news to anyone who has tried many cases, but it is important to be reminded that trial lawyers do need to search for the moral truth at the heart of each case.  Friedman and Bauermesiter give some good examples and they freely share numerous resources.  Among the recommended reading is Neil Feigenson’s book on legal blame and Friedman’s own book Rules of the Road.

But is was something else that really resonated with me. Friedman spends some time talking about the uncomfortable subject of comparison. That is, lawyers comparing themselves to other lawyers.  He sees it as a form of fear, connected with ego. As Friedman explains it, lawyers probably fear going to trial (maybe even subconsciously) because they don’t want to suffer a loss or a low verdict and thus compare unfavorably to other lawyers. This idea, while it seems so commonplace, resonated with me.

How many times have we been in a conference or seminar, and the speaker is introduced by reference to his/her gigantic verdicts, their professional accomplishments, and their book-length resume. The thought going through many attendees’ minds is probably something like “Wow, I could never do that” or “Gee, she’s so brilliant, I could never got those kinds of results.”  I’ve certainly had those thoughts, as has nearly every trial lawyer I know, and it can be a struggle to fight against the temptation to be afraid of the inevitable comparisons that may follow if you lose a case or don’t get a big verdict. Connected with this idea, Friedman also suggested something I don’t think I’d ever heard in any other CLE:  we should truly enjoy the success of other lawyers, and not worry about whether we will ever have the same success.  Not easy for competitive lawyers, right? But wonderful advice.

Friedman’s thoughts on focusing less on ourselves and more on the work itself sounds a bit like Pirsig’s Zen and theArt of Motorcycle Maintenance or Crawford’s Shopcraft as Soulcraft.   It was a tonic to me to be reminded that if we just take one step at a time, concentrate on doing good work and focus on our clients, we will probably lose ourselves in our work and not worry so much about outcomes or comparison.