Thursday, July 31, 2003

Judge Sues Lawyer Over Car Crash
The Legal Intelligencer reports today that a Philadelphia Common Pleas jury awarded Commonwealth Court Judge Doris Smith-Ribner $10,000 in her lawsuit against lawyer Marsha Cohen, executive director of the Homeless Advocacy Project. Smith-Ribner alleged that Cohen's car had "slammed" into her SUV, exacerbating a preexisting pinched nerve, forcing Smith-Ribner to curtail her work and household responsibilities.

What makes this case so interesting are not just the plaintiff and defendant, but also the "supporting" players. Smith-Ribner was represented by her husband, former Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Paul Ribner. Ribner had filed a pre-trial motion seeking to recuse all Philadelphia judges so as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Bucks County Senior Judge Edward Beister presided at trial.

Plaintiff's last demand had been for $60,000, and $35,000 had been offered before jury selection. Defense counsel, who had offered $10,000 one year ago, said that the offer grew not because of the severity of Smith-Ribner's injuries but because the prospect of having such well-known figures in the legal community was daunting.
Lancaster PI Lawyer Makes House Calls
lexisONE reports this month on Lancaster personal injury lawyer Michael Wagman -- a lawyer who makes house calls. According to the article, Wagman's client, Carol Jordie, who lives in Ephrata, was in a halo cast after an auto accident, unable to visit Wagman at his office. Wagman visited Jordie eight to 10 times over a two-year period before the case was settled in her favor.

Here, Jordie's physical condition made an office visit unthinkable. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for an introductory house call. Noted Jordie: "When you're stressed out to begin with, it's easier to talk and relax when you're in a familiar environment....there's nothing more familiar than your own home."

Certainly house calls can differentiate your personal injury practice. But I think there's more. There are few more sympathetic figures than the doctor who makes house calls. Why shouldn't lawyers make them as well?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I’ve created the Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers Blog as a means for lawyers and consumers to obtain up-to-date news, general information, links and commentaries relating to tort law in Pennsylvania and around the country.

I am the proverbial Philadelphia lawyer. My practice involves personal injury and consumer protection. Before opening my own firm, I practiced with some of the country's best known and successful class action and catastrophic loss firms. I have tried cases in state and federal courts, argued numerous appeals, and am admitted to several courts, including the United States Supreme Court. I have prepared briefs that have been filed in courts throughout the country.

In addition to my law practice, for over ten years I have taught at Philadelphia-area law schools. Many of my legal writing students have become creative, responsible and hardworking personal injury attorneys. And occasionally they even call…

I frequently lecture on legal writing and trial advocacy to lawyers and bar associations, and am on the faculty of the country’s largest CLE provider. I am also a law columnist for both lexisONE and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Much of my writing involves the day-to-day concerns of personal injury attorneys.

And one more thing. I am the founder and president of Legal Writing Success (LWS), a company that provides legal research, writing and consulting to lawyers around the country. Through my work with LWS, I have met hundreds of solo and small firm personal injury lawyers, many of whom regularly communicate with me about developments in law, particularly tort law.

There’s a lot that I’ve learned about Pennsylvania personal injury law over the past 15 years. This blog is as good a place as any to keep my thoughts in order and, maybe, educate lawyers and consumers about resources. Thanks for visiting.

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