We personal injury lawyers see some recurring fact patterns, particularly for the spinal cord and brain injury cases. The fatigued tractor-trailer driver driving beyond the FMCSR hours. The fully loaded passenger van rollover. The scaffolding collapse at a construction site. Commercial vehicles and equipment drive our modern economy, but they do so with more than enough force to maim or to kill if not used carefully.

But nothing beats alcohol, the “social lubricant,” which can turn even the most mundane situation into a crippling or fatal tragedy. Cars, guns, and bodies of water are inherently dangerous anyway — for any given American, their lifetime odds of dying from one of the three are, respectively, 1-in-100, 1-in-325, and 1-in-9,000 — and the addition of alcohol exponentially increases the likelihood of accidents, shootings, and drownings. A mind-numbing (and soul-numbing) number of our cases involve, in one way or another, the use or abuse of alcohol.

Which brings us to the subject of today’s post:

East Hempfield police said Hershey, a salesman at Imports of Lancaster County, East Petersburg, had taken the Jensens on a test drive when he told Tyler Jensen to pull over so he could show him “how it’s done.” Witnesses estimated Hershey was traveling as fast as 90 mph on the two-lane road when a truck pulled into his path and he swerved and hit an embankment, according to the affidavit filed in the case.

The car rolled several times, ejecting Hershey and the elder Jensen, who sustained severe head injuries and died at the scene.

According to the affidavit filed in the case, Hershey admitted to drinking Bacardi rum prior to the crash. His blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was .06, below the legal limit of .08, said police. He also tested positive for marijuana.

It’s a horrible story, told in excruciating detail by the article. Hershey is rightfully facing criminal charges, and the car dealership is rightfully facing a civil lawsuit for, among other problems, negligently hiring an individual who “was charged with drunken driving twice in 2002, according to court records,” who before then “pleaded guilty to ‘exceeding the maximum speed limit established by 28 mph,’” and who had separately “pleaded guilty to careless driving and following too closely.” That’s not the person you entrust with the test drives.

Let’s put that aside, and put aside the marijuana, too. (Not least since “tested positive” means he used some amount of marijuana at some point in the recent past, not that he was driving under the influence of marijuana at the time.)


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The NYTimes had an article this weekend about the growing number of e-discovery vendors who can go beyond mere keyword searches into linguistic and sociological reasoning about millions of pages of documents:

[T]hanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.

Some programs go beyond just finding documents with relevant terms at computer speeds. They can extract relevant concepts — like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East — even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.

It often comes as a surprise to non-lawyers and law students, but the bulk of litigation work (measured in hours) performed at big law firms doesn’t really involve legal training or legal reasoning. The bulk of the work — which is performed by junior associates and contract attorneys as part of the “leverage” business model — involves the dreaded “document review.”


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As you’ve probably already read (see, e.g., WSJ Law Blog), yesterday the Supreme Court held in Synder v. Phelps that the First Amendment precluded Synder, father of deceased soldier Matthew Synder, from suing Fred Phelps, a hate-monger who protests funeral’s soldiers with a variety of bigoted and incoherent slogans, for intentional infliction of emotional

 William Gillard bought $200,000 in uninsured motorist coverage from AIG Insurance Company. In 1997, he was injured in a car accident, the driver of the other car had no insurance, and so Gillard filed a claim with AIG for his policy limits.

For seven years, the insurance company refused to pay his claim until, on

Jason Kottke summarizes the situation:

So, LCD Soundsystem is retiring and to see off their fans, they decided to perform one last show at Madison Square Garden. Except that they didn’t think they’d sell the place out and didn’t pay too much attention to how the tickets were being sold. When the tickets went

The Limited Scope Of Inventors’ and Creators’ Rights Under Copyright, Trademark, and Patent Infringement Law

The business lawsuits actually filed, and defamation lawsuit not filed, surrounding Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have inspired some of my more popular posts. But there is one litigious part of the Facebook story that I did not cover,

Over at Balkinzation and Freakonomics under the banner "Iatrogenic Legal Assistance?" Ian Ayres refers us to a study bound to give a certain subset of lawyers and law professors pause:

Harvard Professors Jim Greiner and Cassandra Pattanayak have posted a remarkable randomized experiment (“What Difference Representation?”) with evidence showing that offers for free

If the title doesn’t ring a bell, read here. The whole Emmy-award-winning episode is here.

It always amazes me how much of the global economy is devoted to technological cat-and-mouse games; for every gadget, industrial process, or computer program out there, there are a dozen companies trying to reverse-engineer or manipulate it.

"Glider"

Over at the WSJ Law Blog:

A factual situation: A woman gets pregnant. Six weeks later, the father is killed in an accident.

The legal question: May the child of the father, who was still very much in utero when the father was killed, later bring a wrongful-death action against his father’s killer?

The