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HLF Letter

Haggard Law Firm > HLF Letter (Page 3)

Navigating the Road Construction Case

 

On August 16th, 2018 The Haggard Law Firm will present Winning Case Strategies in Premises Liability, FREE CLE Credit Seminar. The event will take place from 1 to 5pm at the Doubletree Jacksonville Riverfront. To RSVP for the seminar, email of call Stacy at slaffere@haggardlawfirm.com   305.446.5700 

Among the topics to be discussed, road construction cases. That portion of the seminar will be lead by Haggard Law Trial Lawyer Douglas McCarron, who wrote the following article on the topic which was originally published in the Daily Business Review.

Navigating The Road Construction Case

Article by, Douglas McCarron, The Haggard Law Firm.

In today’s day and age, road construction is everywhere. It causes frustration and traffic jams throughout South Florida. More importantly, the road construction causes confusion for motorists on how they are to traverse a construction zone.

When analyzing an auto case, it is extremely important to determine if road construction played a hand in the accident. Investigating and taking photographs and video of the scene is crucial. Road construction projects change on a daily basis, so it is imperative to get photographs/video of the scene as soon as practicable.

Depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries involved, the police may document the scene. Many times, even in smaller accidents, construction personnel take photographs or otherwise document the scene. Nevertheless, it is critical that no stone go unturned in trying to locate photographs and video of the accident site. Look for red-light cameras and business surveillance equipment in the area of an accident and make sure to send subpoenas or spoliation letters.

Generally, road construction projects are funded by either the state or county government. As such, the project plans and documentation are public records. Within the plans, you will find a plethora of information such as the identity of the general contractor, the subcontractors, the construction engineering and inspection firm and the daily progress reports. Most importantly, the documents will enable you to identify the entity that was responsible for the maintenance of traffic , or MOTs, for the project.

“No Excuses from Boat Operators”, Reaction to Duck Boat Tragedy

A duck boat with 31 people on board capsized and sank to the bottom of Table Rock Lake in Missouri during a severe thunderstorm on Thursday, resulting in one of the deadliest boat accidents in American history. There were official weather warnings before the operators of this boat took it onto the lake with the lives they were responsible for. The Associated Press reports that “a private inspector said ….that he warned the company operating duck boats…about design flaws putting the watercraft at greater risk of sinking, less than a year before the accident.”

Tia Coleman lost 10 of her loved ones in that tragedy, including three children, her husband and five other members of her family.

Michael Haggard, the Managing Partner of the Haggard Law Firm says his law firm prays for the families that have suffered so much from the tragedy.

He added, “It is unfathomable that a maritime commercial operator can claim that severe thunderstorms, extremely high winds, and unsafe water conditions can come out of nowhere. With today’s GPS and Radar technology, this is simply not the case. This vessel should have never been allowed to go on this trip.” The Duck Boat operators, like any business owners, are responosible for the safety of their customers/guests. The Haggard Law FIrm has an extensive history of successfully litigating cases where business owners do not take every needed step to keep customer safe as well as maritime and drowning cases.

“This is was an absolutely preventable tragedy that one can only hope changes the standards, oversite and design of this or any other type of similar vessel.

to read full article from Associated Press, click here

CONTACT HAGGARD LAW: CLICK HERE  or call 305.446.5700

 

Reaction to Las Vegas Hotel Suing Mass Shooting Victims

 

Earlier this week it was reported that the owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 victims of a mass shooting that killed 58 people in 2017. The MGM Resorts International’s lawsuit does not seek money and appears to be a judicial bid to avoid liability and dismiss claims against it. On October 1st of last year, 64 year old.

Stephen Paddock opened fire at festival attendees before committing suicide. Paddock had set up a firing point with 23 weapons in the Mandalay Bay overlooking the Route 91 Harvest festival, also owned by MGM.

Trial lawyer Christopher Marlowe of The Haggard Law Firm, which has litigated hundreds of negligent security cases many of which were against hotels/motels,  says MGM Resorts International overwhelming failed to pick up the shooter’s behavior that day and had security issues that lead to the tragedy in the weeks and months before it occurred.

“MGM Resorts and Mandalay Bay, in addition to facilitating mass murder at the  Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, are now attempting to use the court system to bastardize federal law and revictimize the families of those injured and killed on its property” says Marlowe.

He adds that the Federal SAFETY Act does not provide blanket immunity to landowners and operators who simply write a check to a security consulting firm which happens to be certified by the Department of Homeland Security.  The premise of this lawsuit against all of these victims is that, by hiring a certified firm, MGM had no further obligations whatsoever to its guests.

Marlowe says that the introduction to this absurd lawsuit states, “[Stephen] Paddock intended to inflict mass injury, death and destruction… The post-attack investigation revealed that Paddock brought in his van, which he parked in the hotel garage, 90 pounds of explosives, consisting of 20 two-pound containers of exploding targets, 10 one-pound containers of exploding targets and 2 twenty-pound bags of explosive precursors.”

click here to review notable Haggard Law Negligent Security Cases

The Haggard Law Firm partner adds “The “Seller” of the Qualified Anti–Terrorism Technology used at the festival, Contemporary Services Corporation, was presumably not in control over the security protocols and procedures relative to guests’ stockpiling of weapons at Mandalay Bay in the days leading up to this attack.  The shooter, in addition to the explosives he collected over a prolonged period of time, had twenty-three firearms in his hotel room at the time of the massacre. ”

The overwhelming failure by Mandalay Bay and MGM to appreciate the buildup of an entire militia’s worth of weaponry in a hotel room, by itself, is an independent and direct proximate cause of what ultimately transpired.  The hotel’s effort to immunize itself from negligence spanning not hours, but rather, days, weeks or months of security neglect, cannot be pawned off under a federal statute designed to protect purveyors of security technology for mass terrorism crimes that unfold in a matter of seconds. This particular act of terrorism required the kind of neglect that brings in boardroom level failures across every spectrum of hotel management – not just a few discreet minutes during a single music festival. – Christopher Marlowe

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.