RAILWAY CLAIM SERVICES, INC.
Our 14th Year of Service
MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR
THE "STELLA" AWARDS
TRIVIA AND HUMOR
POINTS TO PONDER
THIS AND THAT ACROSS THE COUNTRY
POINTS OF LEGAL INTEREST
The first month of the second
quarter is April, primarily noted for April Fool Day and IRS day.
If some wannabe comedian does not get me the first of the month, I can
always count on the IRS getting me the middle of the month.
Sometimes I get these two occasions confused with each other due to the
duping similarities; however, the amount of money I pay in taxes is no joking
matter. I have asked myself,
"What's a better form of government than ours?"
We have to eliminate dictatorships
since no one wants to be subjected to brutality and total control.
There's always Socialism and Communism.
Both may appear to be positive toward pursuing equality for the entire
population of a country; however, history has proven that appearance to be
wrong. There were once numerous
communist countries, but there are only four main ones remaining
Nine Hundred million Chinese's
main transportation mode is bicycles, whereas the majority of American families
have two or more vehicles. Strike
Islam/Arabs are in control of a
lot of countries, whereas in
Verily, verily, I say unto you.
He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death
"STELLA" AWARDS (AKA
"BELIEVE IT OR NOT" VERDICTS)
The "Stella" award is
derived from the famous McDonald's hot coffee suit brought by 81 year old Stella
Liebeck of New Mexico, who suffered 3rd degree burns to her legs,
groin and buttocks after spilling a cup of coffee on herself, resulting in a
$2.9 million dollar verdict (later reduced).
The ridiculous cases below are all viable candidates for this award.
January, 2000: Kathleen
June, 1998 A nineteen year
old Carl Truman of
3) October 1998:
Terrance Dickson of
3) October 1998: Terrance Dickson of
October, 1999: Jerry Williams
May, 2000: A Philadelphia
restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of
December, 1997: Kara Walton
Just so you know that cooler heads do occasionally prevail, Kenmore,
Inc., the makers of Dorothy Johnson's microwave, were found not liable for the
death of Mrs. Johnson's poodle after she gave it a bath and attempted to dry the
poodle by putting the poor creature in her microwave for, "just a few
minutes, on low." The case was
Pending for future Stella
consideration is another McDonald's lawsuit.
This information was furnished by a McDonald's executive.
Seems the plaintiff received a call at work from his wife who informed
him that she was experiencing the exact right conditions to be impregnated.
Her husband leaves work, but before going home decides he wants a milk
shake from McDonald's. For whatever
reason, he spills the cold milk shake between his legs, which caused him to be
unable to perform when he got home; hence, the suit against McDonald's for the
baby that won't be born. Personally,
I have no sympathy for any man that puts a milk shake ahead of this plaintiff's
reason to get home to his anxiously awaiting wife in a timely fashion.
I am a great believer in luck and
the harder I work the more I have of it.
Stephen Leacock, Humorist
He who has one for the road gets a
trooper for a chaser. Unknown
No life is so hard that you can't
make it easier by the way you take it.
Ellen Glasgow, Writer
Too many people miss the silver
lining because they're expecting gold.
Never believe that a few caring
people can't change the world. For,
indeed, that's all who ever have. Margaret Mead,
Let us not look back in anger or
forward in fear, but around in awareness.
James Thurber, Humorist
Love and time, those are the only
two things in all the world and all of life, that cannot be bought, but only
spent.Gary Jennings, Writer
The greatest weakness of most
humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they're
still alive.O. A. Battista, Scientist and
When you arise in the morning,
give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength.
Give thanks for your food and the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.
Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
You cannot live a perfect day
without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.John Wooden, Retired college
I expect to pass through this
world but once. Any good therefore
that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow
creature, let me do it now. Let me
not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass the way again.Williams Penn, Founder of the
Water, fertilize and put some love
into your grass to insure a greener growth because the grass is not always
greener on the other side of the fence and, besides, there could even be a bull
over there. Me
Family, friends and freedom a rich
man makes, while fools think money is all it takes.
to last months question as to why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets:
Their helmets were soft. The
cockpits were often open. They wore
them to properly dress for the battle occasion and to protect their head from
the adverse weather conditions
In the olden days baths were few
and far apart. The man of the house
went first, then the other men in the family, followed by the women, children
and babies, in that order. By the
end of the bath the water was so dirty you could not see anyone submersed in it;
hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roof-thick
straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It
was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other
small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.
When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip
and fall off the roof; hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things
from falling into the house; hence a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over
the top afforded some protection. That's
how canopy beds came into existence. Only
the wealthy had something other than dirt for floors; hence the saying,
More than 50% of the people in the
world have never made or received a telephone call.
Sneezing too hard and you can
fracture a rib. Suppress and you can
rupture a head or neck blood vessel and die..
A duck's quack does not echo and
no one knows why.
The cigarette lighter was invented
before the match.
Wearing headphones for just an
hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.
Rats multiply so quickly that in
18 months two rats could have over a million descendants.
If the government has no knowledge
of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal
Regulations, implemented on
A shrimp's heart is in their head.
AND THAT ACROSS THE COUNTRY
ANNOUNCES 2001 SAFETY AWARDS AND STATS 1 to
10,000 employee hour winners: Gold
Texas South-Eastern Railroad Co. Silver
Penn Eastern Rail Lines, Inc. Bronze
Great Miami & Scioto Railway Co.
Silver Apache Railway Co.
Bronze Georgia NE Railroad Co. Copper
South Carolina Central Railroad Co., Inc.
50,001 to 250,000 employee hour
winners: Gold New England
Central Railroad. Silver
Fatalities are down from 6 in the
year 2000 to 1 in 2001. Other
likewise comparisons: Non-fatal
injuries are down from 1,039 to 845. Employee
days absent are down from 16,897 to 10,503.
Train accidents are down from 434 to 418.
And employee hours are down from 33,935,393 to 32,296,826
FRA's rate is down from 6.16 to 5.24
& Southern Railroad Company's Grade Crossing Implementation WSOR asked each township, village, city, and
municipality to install stop signs at all passive crossings that were only
protected by crossbucks. Of the 450
crossings on the WSOR system, 420 now have stop signs and 18 have yield signs.
That represents the vast majority and the remaining 12 crossings are
under consideration for the program. As
Meetings Annual Meeting and Exhibition,
Eastern Region Meeting,
Ten Highest 2001 Verdicts 1)
$3 billion, tobacco verdict,
Provides Invironmental Screening
Checklist and Workbook For Short Lines EPA's
Office of Compliance, through various meetings with industry representatives,
facility owners, and technicians, determined there is a need for clear
information for facilities to help them attain or remain in compliance with
applicable federal environmental regulations.
To obtain checklist or for more information, call TERC at 1-888-459-0656
or visit their website address, http://www.transource.org.
New Address -
The Federal Railroad Administration's new address is
New York & Pennsylvania Railroad (WNYP) has acquired a 42-mile
line from the Northwest
Pennsylvania Rail Authority (NPRA) in a transaction
valued at more than $1.9 million. WNYP
officials said the
Fine Art Of Negotiations"
Most Claims oriented folks think
they can negotiate. I am no
exception. Whether or not I can
negotiate claims and lawsuits successfully would probably have to be confirmed
by my opponents and I don't expect that to happen.
If I don't know what I am doing in that regards it is certainly not for
lack of proper training in my younger days as a claim agent for the L&N
Railroad or the 30-plus years experience handling claims and lawsuits with some
of the toughest, most qualified plaintiff's attorneys in this country.
L&N District Claims Agent
Conrad Buffington was my mentor in many ways but more so in attempting to teach
me the fine art of negotiations. Now
in his mid-eighties, I visited with "Mr. Buff" right before Christmas
last year. I pen this section of the
newsletter as my way of saying thanks and to acknowledge how much he has meant
to me in so many ways all these years.
Negotiations can be broken down
into two categories direct and with an attorney.
Handling negotiations directly
with a claimant starts from the inception of the incident.
Primarily, it is our responsibility to gain the claimant's trust.
If that's not accomplished, chances are we will never have the
opportunity to discuss a settlement. We
all know that it is extremely difficult to hold a claim in line for a direct
settlement; however, if trust is established it certainly increases our chances.
Having gained the claimant's
trust, it behooves us to adhere to it. A
fair and reasonable settlement "range" consistent with the facts and
injuries should be placed on the claim and an offer made within that range.
Normally, it is prudent to begin at the low range in case the claimant
has higher expectations, which leaves room to maneuver.
The goal should never be to settle a direct claim for the least amount
possible, but to settle it for the fairest amount possible and not to hesitate
if you have to pay the high side of your settlement evaluation.
Handling negotiations with an
attorney is a whole different ball game. It
is not always possible to negotiate in person with an attorney.
In fact, most of the time we are negotiating via letters, phone or email;
however, face-to-face negotiations, especially the first time or two, is of more
benefit than the other modes. Facial
expressions, motions, emotions and surroundings can play an important role in
settlement discussions. Poker
players know this. Never jump right
into discussing the claim. Establish
as much rapport as you can by discussing things of interest to the attorney or
things you might have in common. If
ice fishing, you cannot catch any fish until you "break the ice."
I have a few rules I try to follow
in negotiating with an attorney and they are as follows:
1. There is
always an exception to every rule. In
other words, disregard any rule if the occasion merits doing so.
2. Make the
first offer and make it well within your settlement range/authority.
It seems the primary means for a lot of defendants in opening settlement
discussions are to ask for a demand. Generally,
I don't subscribe to that philosophy. Why
not? Well, it could be construed by
the opposition that I am asking them to evaluate the case for me and I have no
idea what I am doing. That may be
true, but I don't want them to know that. I
prefer evaluating my case based on a good investigation, the facts of such,
injuries and specials, and then make an offer at the bottom rung of my
evaluation/range ladder. Additionally
as we all know, the opposing attorney's initial demand is normally several times
a defendant's evaluation, so why start off in the stratosphere when you can
begin the journey on earth. Besides,
asking for a demand violates my next rule.
3. Stay on the offense.
In some sports you can score on a defensive play, but it is easier to
score when you're on offense. That's
my feeling regarding negotiations.
4. Show your
"but" tactic. In a case
where most issues are against me, I pick a positive issue to discuss.
No matter what the attorney throws at me I come back with, "Yeah,
." and repeat that one plus issue over and over.
If nothing else, it keeps me from having to set up housekeeping on the
5. Never chase a
climbing squirrel. Most negotiations
go back and forth with offers. Devise
means of attempting to solicit more than one offer from your opposition before
raising your offer. Example:
"I'll recommend meeting you halfway if you'll give me that as an
offer or I'll consider something else closer to my offer."
May sound silly, but sometimes it works.
True negotiations do not begin until we have opposing counsel down to our
authority. When there is no
legitimate reason for an attorney to all of a sudden go up in his demand, I
close the negotiations because I never chase a climbing squirrel.
There's no future in it and I'm afraid of heights.
The claims field is rewarding and
challenging. It reminds me of that
old adage, "Jack of all trades, master of none."
One has to wear several different hats, i.e., psychiatrist, lawyer,
private investigator, medicine, salesman, etc.
For me, the greatest benefit of the profession has been having the
opportunity to work with some of the finest defense attorneys and butt heads
with some of the most capable plaintiff attorneys in the country.
I send my best to each of you.
OF LEGAL INTEREST
Crossings, Jeff Langemo v.
Sees Stars In Samperisi vs. Starbucks, State Supreme Court,
A jury of 6 women awarded Dawn Samperisi $4.6 million, reduced by 25% for contributory negligence, net verdict $3.5 million. While a Starbucks employee was demonstrating the use of a machine, steam caused it to blow apart causing first and second degree burns to plaintiff's hand, resulting in reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a nervous system disorder that left her unable to use the hand.
Sandoval vs. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp., 2001 Westlaw 1298863 (7th Cir. 2001) upheld the district court's dismissal involving a 15-year old boy who sustained an amputated leg when an Amtrak train struck him on a trestle owned by the Burlington Northern. Argument was made that the boy was a trespasser and there was no willful or wanton conduct on the part of the defendants. The courts agreed.
vs. CSX, Jefferson County, Ala., Circuit Court, Case No. 00-2416 results in
$34.5 Million Verdict; however, $14 Million settlement under pre-trial high-low
($14 Million high and $7 Million low) agreement.
While working as a long time bridge foreman in
vs. Union Pacific Railroad Company, U.S. District Court,
welcomes your input. If you have any
questions or comments of interest to our industry, please contact either Dave
Gardner at (731) 967-1796 or FAX your message to (731) 967-1788 or Mike Redden
at (615) 754-0518 or FAX your message to (615) 758-3483.
Note: If you prefer to receive
future editions of this newsletter via email, please send an email with that
request. Email distribution is
quicker and saves postage and handling. Mike
Visit the Railway Claim Services, Inc. webpage. Its located at www.railway-claim-services.com
Railway Claim Services, Inc. is the recognized leader in independent railroad claims management, which includes investigation, negotiations, and all those things in between. If RCSI is not already a partner in your loss control and claims management program are you accepting too much risk?
Claim Services, Inc.
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