What you can learn about communications from President Trump

Whether you agree with his politics or not, President Donald Trump is skilled at using simple, direct speech to communicate his ideas. It's a style that lawyers should consider when addressing a jury, according to this article in Texas Lawyer. National Trial Lawyers member Lisa Blue is a co-author of this article.

How protected is the president from lawsuits?

President Bill Clinton claimed in the 1990s that he couldn't be sued for his actions as a private citizen until after his presidency ended. That comment drew criticism, as Clinton was involved in a legal battle with Paula Jones, who accused the former Arkansas governor of sexual harassment. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the president in 1997. Now, President Trump's lawyers are asking a New York judge if he should face a lawsuit brought late last year. Matt Ford has more on this story at The Atlantic.

Florida Jury Awards $3.22 Million for Interrupted Cancer Treatments In Addition to Injuries Caused by Tractor Crash

In a two-week trial conducted by attorneys Brian Denney and Ed Ricci, a Palm Beach County jury awarded security guard Barry Davis $3,220,000 for damages incurred when his vehicle was struck by a tractor towing a grass mower. The verdict was based not only on Davis’s immediate injuries from the crash, but on his consequent inability to continue timely cancer treatments.

Tractor driver Dale Vannelli was hauling a large, heavy commercial grass mower called a bushhog when he hit Davis’s Ford Mustang on the driver’s side as Davis neared an intersection. Davis, who has been traveling 76 miles an hour in a 50 miles per hour zone, was airlifted to a nearby hospital, suffering a left hemopneumothorax, which required a thoracostomy; a splenic rupture, which required exploratory laparotomy and splenectomy; fractures of his left clavicle; and multiple rib, lumbar, and other injuries. He was hospitalized for 22 agonizing days of surgeries, therapy and rehabilitation.

Prior to the December 4, 2013 crash, Davis had been undergoing radiation treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma on his left cheek/jaw area, and the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. For two months after the accident, due to his extensive injuries, he could not undergo critical cancer treatments. Less than two years later, doctors found that the squamous cell carcinoma had returned to Davis’s cheek and had already metastasized to the parotid gland. This diagnosis resulted in extensive surgery to remove the tumor, massive skin grafts from his right arm to repair surgical areas, and additional chemotherapy and radiation.

Because the crash with Vannelli had adversely affected his ability to treat his cancer successfully, Davis asked Board Certified attorney Brian Denney of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley to represent him in a legal action to hold the tractor driver and his employer, South Florida Bushhog Service, Inc., accountable for the damages.

“There was no question that the tractor crash was the catalyst for a one-two punch that resulted in life-threatening injuries and unimaginable suffering for Mr. Davis,” said Denney. “When the defendants refused to accept responsibility, we were forced to take the case to court.”

Defendants maintained that Davis was solely liable for the crash because he was exceeding the speed limit, and that Davis’s recurrent cancer was not related to the interruption of treatment caused by the accident. They argued that, since Davis had a history of other superficial skin cancers, the recurrence on his left cheek would have occurred regardless of the crash. They also argued that Davis should not have been driving because he had received cancer treatments the day of the accident.

However, in the course of a two-week trial, the Searcy Denney attorneys disputed defense attorneys’ allegations with the sworn statements of a treating oncologist, who testified that the cancer recurrence was caused by the lapse in Davis’s treatments. The jury agreed.

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley is a Florida-based trial law firm with more than 40 years’ experience handling personal injury cases. The firm has been named by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” as a 2017 First Tier “Best Law Firm” in West Palm Beach for six practice areas and in Tallahassee for two practice areas.

Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. Initiates the Kindness Campaign to Improve Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life

In January 2017, the attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. – an Alabama-based law firm with over 25 years of experience in toxic tort cases – initiated the Kindness Campaign. The program was created as a small attempt to improve cancer patients’ quality of life by encouraging people to offer a gift basket to someone struggling with this devastating disease. Within the last two months, hundreds of people from all across the U.S. have joined the Kindness Campaign, which is still ongoing.

Over 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with a form of cancer every year and for the majority of them, the news is life-changing. Struggling with a malignant disease is both physically and emotionally exhausting. In addition to the distressing symptoms caused by cancer, patients also experience a series of side-effects as a result of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which are sometimes so severe that they are unable to perform common daily activities such as cleaning up their house, taking care of their children or shopping for groceries. The situation is even more tragic for people who do not benefit from a strong support system, as they have no one to help them throughout their battle. The ultimate goal of the Kindness Campaign is to provide as many cancer patients as possible with fresh food, useful items and emotional support which will hopefully alleviate some of their suffering at least temporarily.

The idea behind the program sponsored by Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. is very simple and accessible to anyone who would like to participate: a gift basket filled with fresh fruits, raw vegetables or other practical items such as skin care products, blankets or tea is personally delivered to a patient at a nearby hospital or cancer treatment center. Cooked meals are also highly encouraged, as a lot of people suffering from cancer are no longer able to prepare their own food and have no one who can help them in this respect.

As of now, over 300 participants have offered a gift basket to a cancer patient and their acts of kindness were received with genuine surprise and appreciation every time. However, most people seemed to be more impressed with the attention and support they received rather than with the present itself, which means that the Kindness Campaign’s mission of making cancer patients smile has been successfully achieved. “I decided to deliver my basket to a woman I know who does not have many family members around. She was so appreciative. I not only gave her a physical gift, but an emotional one too. Sometimes your time is the gift that is wanted most”, writers a participant in the campaign.

National Trial Lawyers member Gregory Cade is an attorney at the Environmental Litigation Group.

ABA President Criticizes Funding Cut to Legal Services Corporation

Statement of Linda A. Klein, president, American Bar Association

Re: Eliminated Funding for the Legal Services Corporation

WASHINGTON, March, 16, 2017 - The American Bar Association is outraged that the administration proposes to eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation in its budget and calls on every member of Congress to restore full funding. LSC provides civil legal aid to people who desperately need help to navigate the legal process. Without this assistance, court house doors will slam in the faces of millions of Americans, denying them equal access to justice.
Some of the worthy services the LSC provides include securing housing for veterans, protecting seniors from scams, delivering legal services to rural areas, protecting victims of domestic abuse and helping disaster survivors. Their offices are in every congressional district and they help almost 1.9 million people annually.
More than 30 cost-benefit studies all show that legal aid delivers far more in benefits than it costs. If veterans become homeless, or disaster victims cannot rebuild, their costs to society are significantly more.

LSC has had bipartisan support in Congress since its inception in 1974 because it embodies the principles that for two centuries have defined us as Americans – fairness and equal access to justice. These principles should be for all people regardless of economic status. As the budget process proceeds, the ABA will be working to ensure that Congress provides adequate funding for LSC. It is cost-effective, beneficial to millions of Americans and the right thing to do for our country.