Who Says a Judge Can’t Be Funny?

judge While the underlying crime is by no means funny — i.e. an argument over a dog pooping in a neighbor’s yard that led to a machete fight — Judge Jeff Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit offers up several good “one-liners” in response to the criminal defendant’s arguments, including the following:

 

“‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 1:9. Maybe so. But this is a first for us — a dispute between next-door neighbors about uncollected dog deposits that degenerated into a near-fatal assault with a machete.”

“Walker’s belief, however honest, was emphatically unreasonable. He had no objective indications that his neighbor was about to attack him with the stick. And even if he did, Walker brought a machete to a stick fight and nearly killed his neighbor in the process — all in a dispute over a canine trespass….”

“Walker’s lawyer attempts to downplay her client’s use of a machete, claiming that it is merely a ‘garden implement.’  That is easy for her to say. The neighbor…presumably sees it differently, for the same reason that the victim of a near-fatal knifing would not characterize the weapon as a ‘kitchen utensil.'”

branch-308013__180Responding to arguments that the defendant was otherwise a “model citizen,” Judge Sutton wrote: “Being a model citizen for 364 days of the year is not of much use if this is what happens on the 365th day.”

knife

The opinion is barely 4 pages long and well worth the quick read. United States v. Jeffery T. Walker, No. 14-6490, 819 F.3d 877 (April 11, 2016).

 

 

Need a Lawyer?

We hope you never need help with a case involving a machete!   However, if you need a lawyer, please call us at 901-372-5003. We represent victims in personal injury cases, apartment crime cases, wrongful death cases, auto accidents, and more.

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

www.WisemanBray.com

Swimming Pool Injury and Drowning Cases in TN

pool injury lawyer, pool injury attorney, drowning victim attorneySwimming pool injury cases are serious. One of the most heartbreaking cases I have ever handled involved the accidental drowning death of a teenage boy. The parents of the young drowning victim grappled with death of their son at what started out as a fun swimming party with friends.  The owner of the pool and the other party guests felt enormous grief, but at the same time, they did not know what they could have done differently. While the case was eventually settled, everyone involved was devastated, and the effects of the young man’s death were far-reaching.  I will never forget the emotions of all of the parties and witnesses involved in that case.

Most people have no idea just how dangerous a swimming pool can be. Drowning and other swimming pool injuries happen quickly and quietly.  Look at these statistics from the CDC:

Drowning Statistics

  • Every day, about 10 people die from drowning.
  • About 1 in 5 of those are kids 14 and under.
  • Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male.
  • Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates. Among children ages 1-4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.
  • The drowning rate for African Americans is significantly higher across all ages. The disparity is widest among children ages 5-14.

swimming pool lawyer, drowning victim lawyerPool Drains Can Be Deadly

Drowning isn’t the only swimming pool safety concern. Pool drains can also cause significant injuries and death.  In fact, there is federal legislation governing public pool drains because of the serious risk of harm and death.  The legislation is known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act  and it is named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by suction from a hot tub drain.  The suction from the drain was so strong that her mother tried to pull her from the drain but could not. The two men who eventually freed the girl pulled so hard that the drain cover broke from the force. The little girl died from drowning, but the real cause of her death was suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover.  To watch a short video explaining the danger of pool drains, click here.

For additional drowning death and swimming pool injury statistics and supporting graphics, click here.

What to Do After a Swimming Pool Injury or Drowning

If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool or hot tub, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.   Here are some pointers about what to do:

  • Take photos of the scene. Include the pool, equipment, fencing, gates, toys, surrounding area, etc. It is extremely important to document the scene of the injury or death before the pool owners make any changes.
  • Write down names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses. If you decide to pursue a claim, your attorney will need to be able to contact and interview witnesses.
  • Talk with a Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer. An experienced lawyer can examine the facts of a case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

Legal Info on Drowning and Pool Injury Lawsuits

In Tennessee, swimming pool owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons using or accessing a swimming pool, hot tub, or spa.  If a swimming pool owner is negligent, or fails to act with reasonable care, and a person drowns or is injured as a result, the pool owner will be liable for damages.

Every case is unique.  Outcomes and liability assessments depend on the specific facts involved. A swimming pool injury lawyer will be able to talk with you about the circumstances under which the injury or drowning occurred and can give you the appropriate legal advice.   Some of the factors that will influence the outcome of a Swimming Pool Injury or drowning case are:

  • Age of the victim
  • Swimming experience of the victim
  • How the victim entered the property
  • How the victim entered the pool
  • Time frames
  • Fencing around the property and/or pool
  • Condition of the pool water, i.e., was it murky or cloudy?
  • Gates and access mechanisms for entry to backyard or pool area
  • Characteristics of property, i.e., visibility from public areas, presence of toys.
  • Safety equipment available
  • Type of supervision provided
  • Involvement of alcohol
  • Type of pool drain and other maintenance equipment
  • Whether the pool was public or privately owned
  • Training of lifeguards and other staff
  • Notice to pool owners of dangers, access problems, or prior trespassing
  • Local ordinances and codes that apply to swimming pools

pool injury lawyer memphis - drowning victim lawyer

Examples of Tennessee Court Cases on Drowning

Case outcomes are dependent on the facts and the proof or lack thereof that is presented in Court by the trial lawyers for the parties.  Below are just a couple of examples of Tennessee drowning cases, either one of which might have turned out another way had the facts been slightly different:

Harper v. Elliott (1999).  Four year-old boy wandered onto the pool owners’ property and drowned in their pool.  The owners had a 46 inch high wrought iron fence with vertical bars surrounding the pool and access was through 2 gates with simple latches. The pool had a diving board and a slide and there were colorful inflatable toys in and around the pool. The subject street was a busy four lane and the child lived a few doors down. He had left his home while his father was away on a job interview and his mother was asleep. There was no evidence of the route the child took, or how he entered the pool area. A police officer speculated that he squeezed between the bars of the fence, took off his clothes, and slid down the slide into the pool. There was no evidence of what the child could have seen from public spaces. The judge said that it was too much to say that the pool owners knew or should have known that children were likely to trespass on their property. In all the years since they built the pool, they had never known of a child coming onto their property uninvited. Also, the street at issue was a busy, four-lane street, making it highly improbable that a child small enough to fail to appreciate the danger of a swimming pool would be wandering alone in the neighborhood. The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the pool owners and the jury never heard the case. Harper v. Elliott, No. 01-A-01-9809-CV00503, 1999 WL 499737, at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 16, 1999).

Toney v. Cunningham (1999).  A 19 month-old baby girl drowned while attending a Memorial Day celebration. The child’s grandmother agreed to watch her while the mother worked and took her over to the home of the defendants for a party.  The grandmother took the child to one of the bedrooms in the home for a nap and then went outside to watch some other guests play tennis. On 2-3 occasions, the grandmother checked on the child, each time finding that she was asleep. During the tennis match, a ball was hit over the fence. A party guest attempted to retrieve the ball and saw the child floating face down in the swimming pool.  The child’s mother filed a wrongful death suit against the pool owners. The court granted summary judgment to the pool owners because it did not think that, under the facts of the case, that the particular injury experienced by the baby was foreseeable to the pool owners. This was because at the time of the accident, the baby was under the supervision of her grandmother. Additionally, the pool owners and several guests were on or near the tennis court when the accident occurred. From the tennis court, the swimming pool is easily visible. It was unlikely that the baby would open the back door, walk to the swimming pool, and fall in without being seen or heard.  Also, the pool owners knew that the baby was in the care of her grandmother and had every right to believe and expect that the grandmother would supervise the child. Balancing the factors, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the owners, meaning the case was never heard by a jury. Toney v. Cunningham, No. 02A01-9801-CV-00005, 1999 WL 188291, at *5-6 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 6, 1999).

Other Helpful Info

Stay Safe In and Around Swimming Pools 

Safety Barrier Guidelines For Residential Pools 

 

We Handle Swimming Pool Injury and Drowning Lawsuits

We represent pool injury victims and the families of those who have lost loved ones due to accidental drowning. If you need a Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer or an Accidental Drowning Lawyer in the Memphis or Nashville area, please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.  Our work is personal. Our clients become family. Either I or one of our other experienced attorneys will meet with you and provide a free consultation.  We will examine the facts of your case and advise you on your legal rights and options.

 

By: Erin Melton Shea

 

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

(901) 383-6599 Fax

www.WisemanBray.com

 

 

Injured by a Drunk Driver?

drunk driver personal injury lawyerChances are, you either have been or will be the victim of a drunk driver in your lifetime. We know that intoxicated drivers cause personal injuries and deaths every day, but they also cause property damage. Even if you are not injured, your property may be. For example, drunk drivers often cause damage to other cars, houses, businesses, guardrails, signs, yards, and landscaping.

Drunk Driving Statistics

What are the odds that you have been or will be affected by a drunk or intoxicated driver? Take a look at these harrowing  statistics:

  • Every 2 minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • On average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  • The rate of drunk driving is highest among 26-29 year olds at 20.7%.
  • In 2014, 9,967 people died in drunk driving crashes. That’s one every 53 minutes. Another 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes.
  • Drunk driving costs the U.S. $132 Billion a year.
  • In 2010, drunk driving alone accounted for 18% of the total economic loss from motor vehicle crashes, costing the economy as much as $199 billion in direct and quality-of-life losses.

What does Drunk or “Intoxicated” Mean?

Tennessee law provides that a person is intoxicated when his or her physical and mental abilities are impaired as a result of drinking or drug use. The impairment must be to the extent that the person can’t act with ordinary and reasonable care like a sober person would under similar circumstances.

Can a Drunk Driver or Person Be Negligent?

Yes!  A drunk person is held to the same standard as a sober person.  Being intoxicated is no excuse for failure to act as a reasonably careful person.

We Represent Victims of Drunk Driving.

As a victim, you need a lawyer with the experience, drive, and knowledge necessary to compete with the insurance companies who are handling your claim. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a victim twice, and you might not even realize it until it’s already too late.  We are victim attorneys and we represent people who have been injured or damaged by drunk or intoxicated drivers. If you need help, we have offices in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee.  Please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

 

Can my Fitbit be used as evidence against me?

By:            Erin Shea

fitbit can be used by injury lawyer

Can my Fitbit® data be used as evidence in court?

As I was driving to work yesterday, I heard an advertisement for a Local News Story on Fox 13 about potential unintended consequences of using one of those trendy new fitness tracker devices, such as the Fitbit®. This piqued my interest for a couple of different reasons: (1) My husband bought me a Fitbit® for my birthday recently, and (2) Part of my job as a lawyer involves looking for information to either support or weaken a particular factual claim being made by someone in a lawsuit, and doesn’t a fitness tracker record accurate and factual information?

Using Fitbit® Data as Evidence in Court Cases

What could be the unintended consequence of using a fitness tracker? Relevant to my job as a lawyer, Fox 13’s story and this article discuss how fitness tracking data can make or break a court case.

I haven’t seen any reported appellate decisions in Tennessee yet discussing the admissibility of fitness tracking data at trial, but I’m sure they are coming. Also, even if the data never sees the inside of a courtroom, there are other uses for it, including using the information to secure other evidence or as a negotiation point during settlement talks.

For example, if a person in a personal injury suit is making a claim that they can no longer walk more than a few steps at a time, but the person’s Fitbit® data shows that the person is taking 20,000 steps a day, I would argue that the claim is being exaggerated.  On a somewhat related topic, I will never forget an old case I worked on where the injured person claimed he could no longer run races, but his social media accounts showed several post-race photographs that were taken after the accident.

Moral of the Story

Don’t forget that your electronic devices, including fitness tracking devices like a Fitbit®, are collecting data and information about you.  Think about how that data might be used to help or hurt you because you can be sure that the lawyers are!

Need a Lawyer?

erin shea, injury lawyer at wiseman bray memphisCall  me or any of the other lawyers at Wiseman Bray PLLC  at (901) 372-5003. We’d be glad to help you. We handle cases in Memphis, Cordova, Germantown, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland,  Shelby County, and throughout Tennessee and Mississippi.  If we can’t help you, we’ll point you in the right direction.

 

Re-opening of Entry Level Legal Assistant Position

Wiseman Bray PLLC is again looking to add a Legal Assistant in the Litigation Department.  The Legal Assistant position is an entry level job, and while experience is preferred, it is not absolutely necessary.  On the job training will be provided.

 

Minimum job requirements are as follows:

  • Minimum: high school diploma
  • Preferred: associate degree or higher
  • Strong commitment to customer service
  • Proficient with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Ability to pay close attention to detail
  • Strong research, writing, and editing skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with customers and attorneys
  • Ability to be a self-starter and to work independently
  • Familiarity with social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

 

Wiseman Bray PLLC employees receive two (2) weeks paid vacation annually.  Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an hour for lunch break.  We also strive to be kid-friendly and flexible in order to accommodate for doctor appointments, school programs, ball games, etc.  Beginning salary is $30,000 per year, and employees are 401(k) eligible after completing 1 year of work.  Unfortunately, Wiseman Bray PLLC does not offer health insurance benefits.

 

Please send any questions and/or resumes to info@wisemanbray.com.

Gun Trusts: Feinstein’s Bill Addresses Handguns Too.

According to the Washington Post, Senator Feinstein’s gun control bill not only seeks to severely restrict the sale and transfer of modern sporting rifles, but also “prohibits the sale or transfer of high-capacity, ammunition-feeding devices currently in existence” – a clear reference to gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

While most gun owners don’t own an AR-15, millions of Americans own handguns for personal defense.  Many if not most of these “regular” handguns are sold with magazines that hold 10 rounds.  It’s these personal defense weapons that Senator Feinstein seeks to restrict.  If her bill becomes law, millions of Americans will no longer be able to sell, give away or pass their handgun to their family in their will.

It is unlikely that the entirety of the proposed bill will become law.  However, is seems probable that portions of the proposed legislation will.  If you are interested in maintaining control of your firearms, call us now to set up a Gun Trust at 901-372-5003.

For more info, click here for our previous blog post about Gun Trusts.

URGENT UPDATE & PRICE REDUCTION -Time may be running out to protect your guns with a Gun Trust

Today, multiple U.S. Senators are formally introducing legislation that bans the manufacture and sale of hundreds, if not thousands of guns.  While the news coverage of the proposed legislation will characterize the proposed laws as being an “assault weapons ban,” in reality many handguns and shotguns will be included.  Additionally, gun owners’ ability to transfer their guns to their family members may be severely restricted or even banned.

In light of the short time frame that gun owners may have to legally protect their firearms, Wiseman Bray PLLC is now offering a basic Gun Trust for only $675.  Call us now to create your Gun Trust before it is too late: 901-372-5003.

For more info, click here for our previous blog post about Gun Trusts.

Let Us Help You Protect Your Guns With A Gun Trust – Before It’s Too Late

The current political climate creates tremendous uncertainty for gun owners.  If you act now by creating a Gun Trust, you can be assured that your guns can stay in your family forever.

A Gun Trust is typically used to streamline the purchase of class 3 firearms, suppressors, fully automatic rifles, or short rifles.  However, in light of the current political climate, gun owners should seriously consider a transfer of ALL of their guns into a Trust in  order to avoid certain proposals under consideration that would ban ALL transfers of any so-called “assault weapon” (which would include hundreds of guns) as well as any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.

One of the key Senate proposals under consideration would ban any and all transfers of certain guns and magazines – to ANYONE – including your own children.  You wouldn’t even be able to have your guns pass to your children through your Will at your death!  Instead, your guns and magazines would presumably be confiscated by the government at your death.

If you have a Gun Trust, though, the Trust would technically own your guns and magazines, and as a legal matter, Trusts never “die.”  You can serve as Trustee during your own life, and therefore possess and use your guns just as you’ve always done with no change.  The difference is that when you die, or when you want to allow your brother/son/friend to use or possess your gun, you can simply appoint another Trustee, or a Co-Trustee, or a Successor Trustee that automatically takes over at your death.  Those persons can then use or share the guns just as you did.  The Trust always owns the guns so there is technically never any “transfer” – even at your death.

Most regular Trusts have no instructions regarding the purchase, use, or access to your firearms. They also do not give the people involved with the Trust enough information to properly transfer assets. Indeed, if you become incapacitated, it may be necessary to sell some of the guns to provide for your needs. And when you die, your firearms will need to be transferred properly. A Gun Trust specifically provides information to determine whether the firearms are transferable or need to stay in the Trust, whether they are legal in the state where they might be transferred, and whether the  beneficiary is legally able to possess the firearm.  Another important feature is the peace of mind of knowing that, if you desire to do so, you can empower the Trustee to determine if the beneficiary is mature and responsible enough to receive the firearms in the first place.

A Gun Trust amounts to simple insurance against some of the more extreme political proposals currently floating around Washington D.C.  But time is of the essence.  Creating the Gun Trust must be complete BEFORE any transfer restrictions might be passed by Congress.  Protecting your rights is simple and affordable.  Cost for a Basic Gun Trust is only $950 $675.

If you own guns, we would love the opportunity to talk with you about how a Gun Trust will complement your estate plan.  Please contact our office to learn more about potential opportunities for you and your family using Gun Trusts.  Call us at 901-372-5003.

ObamaCare at the Supreme Court: Day 3 Recap

Sorry to be running late with this post concerning the final day of argument at the Supreme Court yesterday, but I wanted to again pass along the post by my friend Hans von Spakovsky at the Heritage Foundation who’s been following the hearings in DC.  Click here for his article over at PJ Media.

There’s been lots of talk by pundits and prognosticators about how the seeming skepticism expressed by the Justices during oral argument means that the ObamaCare law will inevitably be struck down.  I disagree.  Not because I believe it will be upheld, but rather because I believe there’s no way to tell much of anything simply by listening to the questions asked by Judges during their hearing of an appeal.

Mind you, while some of the questioning in this particular case has been unusually illuminating, I’ve been involved in numerous appellate hearings, many of which occurred while I was “on the inside” as a law clerk working for Judge on the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  And based on my experience, I can tell you that a Judge’s questioning is often just that:  questioning.  It doesn’t necessarily indicate an opinion one way or another.  Indeed, sometimes the toughest questions are not from a Judge trying to signal what side he/she is on, but rather from a Judge who is genuinely trying really hard to make up his/her mind, and perhaps playing devil’s advocate or trying to rule out any doubts they might have.

Moreover, in this case, the legal theories could make for some interesting combinations of opinions by the Justices.  Some of the most conservative members of the Court, for example, may be inclined to allow their preference for judicial restraint to trump their misgivings over possible constitutional issues withe ObamaCare.

The best prediction is to simply stay tuned.  The Court’s Term will be over in a few weeks, and the latest that their rulings are handed down for a particular Term are usually in June.  So, we’ll know pretty soon what the answer is.