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Haggard Law Firm > HLF Letter

Summer Swimming Safety Tips

 

By Christopher Marlowe, trial lawyer, The Haggard Law Firm

Deep into the summer months, swimming pools offer a well-earned respite from the sauna intensity of the sun, and the steambath that follows a warm summer rain.  We eagerly jump into swimming pools at hotels, resorts, friends’ houses and on cruise ships.  Those who own pools usually don’t think about pool safety all that much, apart from supervising any children who may be using it.  We assume, subconsciously, that other peoples’ pools, and especially those operated by businesses, are at least as safe as the one we have at our own house, and that the rules at home will be followed as strictly in a public pool as they would be anywhere else.

 

These are dangerous assumptions. If you think that checking the safety of a swimming pool before using it is unnecessary or smacks of paranoia, consider this: drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children ages 1–4 in Florida.  Too many children (of all ages) have drowned without a capable supervisor watching the area, and others have drowned while those nearby confused horseplay with a deadly drowning underway. Our team at Haggard Law Firm has litigated cases time and time again of drownings or near drownings that could have been prevented by those responsible for a pool taking the proper measures to make it the safest environment possible. And yes, many of these cases have been again apartment complexes and hotels.

Here are easy steps to take to ensure safety around pools during your summer vacation:

Case Themes – Jury Selection Through Closing Argument

 

By Michael Haggard and Todd Michaels, The Haggard Law Firm

Every trial lawyer understands the significance of creating and developing a strong, clear theme for their case at trial.  The theme of your case initiates a tone towards your Case-in-Chief and if powerful enough, it will dictate which fork in the road, favorable or unfavorable to your client, the jury takes.

 

Opening Statements

Opening statement is the second opportunity the trial lawyer has to begin planting the seed of bias in favor of his or her client—seasoned and skilled trial lawyers understand voir dire is really the first opportunity.  It is critical to communicate to the jury and ingrain within each member of the jury a persuasive and powerful theme.  Why?  Once your theme is etched into the minds of the jury, each juror will begin to look for evidence that supports that theme.  If a particular piece of evidence contradicts that theme they will likely discard that piece of evidence or they may not associate as much credence with it as they would have had it fit with your theme.   This is vital to the outcome of your case.  The theme essentially summarizes your case for the jury.  Whether it is a short phrase or one word, the theme should capture the case theory, tone and the area of focus for the jury.  The theme should be simple and easy to understand.   I can share with you a case example in a recent trial of The Haggard Law Firm—the case of Trinard Snell.

 

Our firm tried the negligent security case against a gas station owner and operator, which resulted in a $5.7 million dollar verdict on behalf of the deceased Plaintiff and his survivors.  Understanding the importance of a clear theory and a memorable, persuasive theme, we began opening statement with our theme— inadequate security on a crime-ridden property.

 

The case theme was presented to the jury at the very beginning of opening statement, repeated throughout the entire opening statement and reiterated at the end.  Why?  A concept in psychology—primacy, and recency—tells us that order is important!  The primacy effect is described as the ability of an individual to recall information better that was presented earlier rather than later.  The recency effect is described as the ability of an individual to remember information presented most recently to them better than information that was presented earlier.   When you combine the two, optimal information recollection is achieved.   Therefore, at minimum, the jury must here your theme at the beginning and at the end of your presentation.

 

Haggard Law Firm trial lawyer and Managing Partner, Michael Haggard email MAH@HaggardLawFirm.com

Testimony and Evidence Presented

After your jury has been indoctrinated with the theme of your case through voir dire and opening statement, you must keep the jury on that same track during the presentation of the oral testimony and physical evidence.  Depending on the length of the trial, the jury will hear days to weeks of testimony.  It is their job to sort through the evidence presented and make a just decision at the end of the trial.  After weeks of testimony, jurors often become overwhelmed with the volume of information and evidence presented.  It is the trial lawyer’s job to organize this testimony and evidence presented to the jury in a manner that diminishes this information overload.  I use the analogy of a train on a train track to best describe this concept.  The theme is the locomotive.  Your jury represents the passengers on the train.  The trial lawyer must keep his or her passengers onboard throughout the entire trial until arriving at destination “Favorable Verdict.”

More on Negligent Security

One way to ensure your train passengers are not disembarking is to reiterate your theme and theory of your case throughout each segment of the trial.  Your theme should be clear, concise and easy to recognize.  The theme is the lens through which your jury will view the case.   It is imperative that the lens you provide to the jury is the correct diopter—representing a powerful and persuasive theme.   An incorrect diopter will result in a hazy, unclear view of your case and perhaps an unfavorable verdict.  Mock trials and jury focus groups are a great way to gauge the lens diopter your jury will need.

WE INVITE REFERRAL ATTORNEYS AND CO-COUNSEL TO CONTACT US AT INFO@HAGGARDLAWFIRM.COM or 305.446.5700

As simple as this may sound, many lawyers have a difficult time successfully implementing these techniques.  Through our years of law school and demanding casework at our prosperous law firms, our legal minds are trained to analyze the complexities and minutiae of the law, creating sophisticated legal arguments for opposing counsel and the court.   The basic techniques of persuasive communication are often neglected due to the lawyer’s engrossment with the complexities of the legal issues of their case and their own familiarity with legal terms and attitude of simplicity.  For example, the trial attorney that uses the theme of “Negligent Actions” will be rudely surprised by the jurors’ varying definitions of negligence.  Despite the lawyer’s familiarity with the term “negligence” and its rudimentary elements, it is not so easily nor correctly defined by the jury.   Through juror focus groups and mock trials, the lawyer can clear out the fog and rework the case theme prior to trial.  During the deliberations at mock trials, I often hear jurors begin an explanation with “Personally, I feel that…” or “To me, this means…”  These phrases are indicative of “information gap-filling.”  Jurors will pull from their personal experiences to fill in the gaps.  Those gaps are either areas where the jury is confused or has simply forgotten the information presented.  Regardless of the reason for the existence of the gap, the juror will instinctively try to fill that gap in order to make sense of the legal questions they are tasked with answering.   This illustrates why trial lawyers cannot forget the basics and cannot neglect the importance of simplifying and effectively communicating those complex issues to the members of the jury.  The skilled trial lawyer will be mindful of this.  The skilled trial lawyer will have an engaging theme.

 

 

Nuances of the Case Theme

2018 Super Lawyers: All Haggard Law Attorneys Named to List

Once again, all Haggard Law Attorneys have been named to the latest edition of Super Lawyers. The 2018 list was released earlier this week.

Trial lawyers Andy Haggard, Michael Haggard , Douglas McCarron, Todd Michaels, Christopher Marlowe, Jason Brenner and Pedro Echarte are listed in the Personal Injury General: Plaintiff Category.

Our Appellate Attorney James Blecke was 1 of only 6 attorneys in Florida included on the Appellate List.

 

About Super Lawyers

Slicing and Dicing Defense Experts – Negligent Security

 

 

By Michael Haggard, Managing Partner – The Haggard Law Firm 

Former Special Agents for the FBI, former CIA, decorated Soldiers, medical doctors with illustrative careers.  These are the individuals who make up the field of experts.  Their resumes can be impressive and most often, they present well to a jury.  Unfortunately for you, they are experienced, well composed, and generally speaking, very cunning.  Although it seems as though you are fighting a lost battle, it is accepting this realization that will help you the most in defeating the expert.

In terms of the negligent security expert, he/she will undoubtedly say it…“This crime was unforeseeable and unpreventable because the offender could not have been deterred.”  You could have a thousand armed robberies and twenty murders, but someone will sit across from you in a chair or on the stand and tell you it was unforeseeable and unpreventable.  As frustrating as that reality might seem, you should be grateful for having the knowledge of what the defense negligent security expert is going to say.  How you will use the statement against them is where your attack becomes most effective.

 

 

The best way to select your cutlery is by identifying which area of expertise the defense listed the expert.  The foreseeability expert will rely on certain evidence and the preventability expert will rely on different evidence.  At this point, you have amassed information from building your liability case and conducting research on your expert.  It is now time to select the appropriate materials to use against them.

The foreseeability expert traditionally relies upon the past criminal history of the property, the level of crime in and around the area, and the types of crimes occurring on the property.  As general as those topics appear to be, it boils down to what threshold the expert requires in order to determine if the crime against your client was foreseeable.  The threshold is something that will fluctuate depending on which side the expert testifies.  If he is testifying for the plaintiff, he will testify that it does not matter if a targeted crime occurred because a robbery is a robbery or a murder is a murder.  If the expert is testifying for the defense, then it makes all the difference whether the robbery was a drug deal gone bad or a targeted murder.  Knowing the expert will switch back and forth, you must determine if you are going to “gut” the expert right off the bat, or give them a thousand tiny “cuts.”

For example, we deposed a defense security expert in a case involving a convenience store.  It just so happens we had used this expert six months prior on a similar case involving a robbery at a gas station/convenience store.  After the introductory questions, I used the “gut” method.  I directly asked if he testified six months prior whether or not the defendant should have had an armed security guard.  He faltered and stuttered, trying to give an explanation on his contradictory opinions.  On our particular property we had at least seven robberies against the defendants customers, and at least four or five more they were made aware of by way of the customer retreating back to their establishment.  The case the expert testified in for us six months ago had five previous robberies.  We knew he had just made the same argument for us that he was now attempting to say was incorrect.

A little while later, I decided to employ the “cut” method by asking him about the relevance of the crime grids for the property.  He replied that he relies on police reports for the actual property, so I “cut” him with his prior testimony where he relied on grime grids heavily because there were only a handful of police reports for crime on the property.  The difference between the two techniques lies in how you administer the questioning.  The former question was after he revealed his opinions in the case.  The latter questioning was by way of leading him into a trap.  The “cut” technique is accomplished by getting the expert to commit to a particular methodology or particular statement, allowing them to feel comfortable by giving their opinion(s), and then “cutting” them question by question during the deposition with all the contradictory testimony in your possession.

Press Conference: Reaction to Broward Deputy Today Show Interview

Later today, we will once again be honored to stand with our client, Manuel Oliver, the father of 17 year old Parkland mass shooting victim Joaquin Oliver. Only days after the Oliver family accepted the high school graduation diploma for their late son, NBC’s Today Show aired part one of an interview with Former Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson who was the school resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day a gun killed 17 people and injured 17 more.

Today’s press conference with Mr. Oliver will be to give reaction to that NBC network television interview.  click to watch Today Show interview

Press Conference Details

What: Press Conference to respond to part one of Today Show Interview with FMR BSO Deputy Scot Peterson

When: 12 pm – Today – June 5th, 2018

Location: Beyond Group (office) 98 NW 39th Street, Miami, FL 33127

Who: Manuel Oliver and Haggard Law Trial Attorney Christopher Marlowe

Media Contact: J.P. Hervis, Brandstory Communications, 305.321.4293 Jp@brandstorycommunications.com

 

The Nuts And Bolts of Negligent Security Cases

The Nuts And Bolts of Negligent Security Cases

By: Michael Haggard  (Bio) and Christopher Marlowe (Bio), The Haggard Law Firm

Negligent security cases are time consuming, very costly, require a hyper attention to detail, a team effort and knowledge of foreseeability, and in many cases criminal law and a ‘typical’ negligent security case does not and will not ever exist. Our firm has handled hundreds of these cases over the years and have obtained more than $400 million in results for our clients. We can most affirmatively say the immense challenges of these cases are outweighed by the results that can help bring justice to a victim or family that the criminal justice system may never be able to provide, while also changing the way a business or entire industry operates.

In a wrongful death car accident case, we all know to preserve evidence, request the relevant reports, statements and traffic homicide reports.  We contact the witnesses tied to this particular moment in time, hound law enforcement and medical examiners to make sure we have all evidence tied to the incident, and begin working these pieces into the theory we hope will increase the probability of success at the end of the case.  While this basic and incomplete framework is an important part of a negligent security case as well, it does not account for the historical analysis necessary to place the subject incident in the perspective necessary to appreciate which theory is best, and why. 

Power of Foreseeability: $100 million verdict

Like any of the most complicated areas of practice there are multiple layers to consider when litigating a negligent security case.  Foreseeability of the act in question, most often a crime, is the first element of the case to consider. For example, it is good to know whether a particular shooting or sexual assault occurred in the common area of an apartment complex, over which the owner or manager had exclusive control.  It is important to know whether there is a history of any such activity upon the Premises, and in the areas adjacent or related thereto. There is a history of cases where the Plaintiff counsel assumes that because the crime does not appear to be a “hit” and because the crime on the property is “bad” that their case is a winner.  Some of the most common arguments by defense council are tied to the character of the victim or because the area may have a high crime rate there isn’t much the property owner could have done to stop the incident that caused the death or harm of your client. In most states, neither argument has much merit because of the statutes that lay out the responsibility of the property owner to take reasonable measures to protect all guests, residents or customers on a commercial property from harm. In November 2007, we successfully obtained a $102.7 million verdict in a negligent security shooting case thought to be the largest verdict of its kind in the country. We represented a patron of an exotic dance club.  Our client sat waiting in his car for his friend to return from retrieving his wallet when he was approached by an unknown person who attempted to rob him at gunpoint. The assailant shot our young client. The bullets rendered him a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.  The jury found that the strip mall where the club was located did not have sufficient security, as there was only one guard on duty. The strip mall’s ownership admitted they had never spent one dollar on security or safety despite the fact there were 26 violent crimes on the same property during the seven years prior to the shooting of our client.  Video on Case

 

Injured or lost a love one on the property of a business, apartment complex or hotel? We want to hear your story, click here or call 305.446.5700

 

Full Speed Investigation

NEWS – Police Arrest Man Who Forced Teen Into Prostitution at a Hotel

According to WTVJ-TV in Miami, police have charged a local man who they say “pimped a teenage girl out of a Hialeah hotel” while the suspect was already in jail on a separate charge.

42-year-old Edward Lee was arrested on charges that included: human trafficking and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. By law, forcing any minor to have sex is considered human trafficking.

Trial lawyer Todd Michaels of The Haggard Law Firm said “For too long, human trafficking has been ignored.  After drug dealing, it is the second most committed criminal act in the world.  The horrors that the victims face are beyond comprehension—forced prostitution, slavery, and other forms of torture with no escape.”  (Todd Michaels Bio)

The NBC television affiliate reported “According to a police report, Lee kept communication with his girlfriend while he was behind bars and ordered her to force the 14-year-old victim into prostitution out of the hotel off Okeechobee Road in May of that year – instructing her to keep the teen inside the hotel room since she was a runaway.” Police say the teen had sex with 6 men in one day.

Haggard Law, which has litigated against hotels/motels in a variety of premises liability and negligent security cases for more than a decade, is focused on bringing more attention to how commercial businesses play a key role in combating the tragedy of trafficking. Those businesses who do not take responsibility and don’t take active roles in combating trafficking should be held responsible.

Michaels says, “the great enabler for all of these crimes are the commercial premises—hotels, strip malls, apartment buildings—that turn a blind eye to these horrific acts happening right under their noses.   Every commercial property owner has a legal duty to act when these crimes are happening on their premises.  It is time to start holding those who willfully turn a blind eye responsible.”

to read entire WTVJ-TV article

Hotels and Motels are Top Targets of Operations For Traffickers

Motels and hotels are considered ideal locations for sex traffickers to operate their heartless and vicious operation. Experts say it is because traffickers are capitalizing on the lack of awareness around this issue within the hotel industry. All too often, they continue to exploit their victims unchecked because staff, managers, and executives do not know what to look for.

Lack of awareness is not a true excuse anymore. Hospitality associations, law enforcement, the federal government and more have discussed the issue in the media and offer training on what the signs are of possible human trafficking at a motel or hotel.

In January Marriott Hotels made human trafficking training mandatory for all associates and developed training tailored to the specific roles on its properties. Over 225,000  associates completed the training this in 2017. It’s a training that has continued in 2018.  Haggard Law is confident that if the general knowledge and action taken by some in the industry is not enough to motivate all commercial businesses to become active in the fight against sex trafficking, then premises liability or negligent security civil action will become a new motivating factor.

VIDEO: Haggard Law Firm Managing Partner and Trial Lawyer Michael Haggard is the current President of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. In this video, Haggard discusses shares that human trafficking is at the top of his agenda during his term.

$3 Million Negligent Security Case Result for Gunshot Victim

Miami Dade County, FL – A gunshot victim who had his kidney, portions of his intestines removed and his colon perforated settles a negligent security lawsuit against northwest Miami apartment complex for $3 million.

 

On May 3rd, 2014, Dennis Gore and his friend worked together cleaning one of their clients’ business’. After work, Dennis and his friend played flag football and then went to Dennis’ mother’s apartment at Suncoast Apartments (999 NE 167th Street). Dennis would ask his friend to take him to Walgreen’s to get an ace bandage because of a sore knee.

The two of them went downstairs to Dennis’s friend’s car in the parking lot when Dennis realized that he left his wallet upstairs.  He told his friend to meet him around the other side off 10th avenue while Dennis went back upstairs to get his wallet.  After retrieving his wallet, he took the stairs to a door led directly into the parking lot when his friend to pick him up.

 

A man standing at the bottom of those stairs simply said “hey”, which made Dennis turn around. The man was brandishing a gun. Dennis attempted to evade the stranger but was met by a second man who tried to grab him. After breaking free and attempting to exit through a doorway, bullets began to fly.  He was shot 6 times. Dennis was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he went into emergency surgery.

Haggard Law Trial Attorney Jason Brenner – CONTACT BRENNER – JRB@haggadlawfirm.com 

Haggard Law Firm Trial attorney Jason Brenner and Douglas McCarron litigated the case. Brenner says while the apartment complex did have security in place, it was not sufficient considering the level of crime in the area. The claims made in the case were past and future medical expenses and past and future pain and suffering. “May 3rd was the beginning of a nightmare that Mr. Gore will never wake up from and it may have been prevented if this apartment complex had fully committed to providing the level of security needed to protect residents and guests.”

Haggard Law Trial Attorney Douglas McCarron – CONTACT MCCARRON – DJM@haggardlawfirm.com 

 

The Haggard Law Firm has an extensive history of litigating negligent security cases involving apartment complexes, hotels, motels, gas stations and other commercial businesses. Over the last ten years, Haggard Law Trial Attorneys have obtained more than $400 million in results for clients severely injured or the families of those killed due to a property owner or managers negligence.

CONTACT HAGGARD LAW FIRM 305.446.5700

VIDEO: What is the first step in a negligent security case??

 

 

 

Swim Safety Tips

May is National Swim Safety Month. Our team at Haggard Law is passionate about observing this time as we have unfortunately had to represent families who have suffered the loss or a significant injury to a loved one in a drowning or near drowning. With these tragic experiences, we have learned that water safety involves active participation of family, friends, the swimmers and the people who are responsible for pools, pool equipment, and properties that have other bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.

 

According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of children ages 1-4 years. Annually in Florida, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown before their fifth birthday.

 

According to the U.S Swimming Foundation, in 2017 Florida lost more children to drowning than any other state. There were 51 fatal child drownings in Florida pools or spas in 2017, a 20 percent spike compared to 2016.  The drownings last year involved children 15 and younger, with 80 percent involving children under the age of 5. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 nationwide.

Th American Red Cross has these swim safety tips:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.

Also parents remember your pool gate safety and pool pump safety.

 

 

Michaels To Receive FJA Bronze Eagle Award

We are very proud to announce the Haggard Law Firm Trial Attorney and Partner Todd Michaels has been named a recipient of the Florida Justice Association’s 2018 Bronze Eagle Award.

Bronze EAGLE recipients are those members who go to great lengths by contributing time and money to the EAGLE cause which aims to provide resources to power FJA’s mission of:

  • defending civil justice at the Capitol and promote lasting and meaningful reforms to protect injured victims,
  • to preserve the safety of Florida’s consumers,
  • and to ensure the continued success of your practice for years to come.

Bronze EAGLE Award recipients have been very involved in EAGLE over the years and continue to be active in EAGLE.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT TODD MICHAELS

When asked by the FJA what the FJA and EAGLE program meant to him, Michaels responded “When it comes to protecting the rights of the injured, the aggrieved, and the voiceless, there is no more important organization than the Florida Justice Association. The EAGLE program ensures FJA’s staff and leadership remain focused on protecting our practices and the rights of our clients without distraction.” Michaels has been an active member of the FJA since September of 2009.

He will receive the honor during the FJA’s Presidential Luncheon on Friday June 22, 2018 at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

READ TODD MICHAELS BIO: CLICK HERE

For a free consultation or if you are a referring of co-counsel attorney, call 305.446.5700