Advocate Capital, Inc. Law Firm Financing Blog

Law Practice Management Stories

Industry News: Fareesh Sarangi Selected As a Top 100 National Trial Lawyer

 

Top 100 Trial Lawyer Fareesh Sarangi, Advocate Capital Inc. reportsCongratulations Fareesh Sarangi of Sarangi Law LLC, located in Atlanta, Georgia, for his selection as a member of the invitation only Top 100 National Trial Lawyer organization. Admittance into the organization involves a thorough vetting process and qualifications are based on performance inside and outside the courtroom. Mr. Sarangi’s success on behalf of his clients is exemplified by his $1.4M settlement that was reached in a wrongful death case of a middle-aged man back in May of 2014. The decedent’s widow came forward due to her belief her husband’s death was no accident. Mr. Sarangi began aggressively advocating on her behalf, hiring the best possible expert witnesses and thorough evaluation of the medical evidence.

 

Fareesh summarizes this honor as follows:

 

The highest honors are those that come from your peers because they know how hard we work for our clients inside and outside of the courtroom. The fact that some of the best trial lawyers in the country selected me for inclusion into this group is particularly special.

 

Here at Advocate Capital we are so thankful and honored to partner with superb trial lawyers like Mr. Sarangi who work so hard on behalf of their clients to help them put the pieces of their lives back together in the wake of tragedy. Congratulations Fareesh on your well-earned appointment and all that you do to protect our 7th Amendment rights!

 

Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

 

Advocate Capital Inc. Sounds GameTo celebrate Advocate Capital, Inc.’s 15th anniversary, Nashville based employees and their families headed to historic Herschel Greer Stadium on Wednesday, July 23 for dinner and a Nashville Sounds baseball game. The festivities took place on the Pandora Party Patio just above home plate featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs and pulled pork.

 

Once the game started, it was nonstop fun and socializing for the whole group. This event also offered everyone a chance to experience one of the top 10 best minor league ballparks before the team moves to their new stadium in Downtown Nashville next season. The Sounds went on to defeat the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 5-2, making this anniversary celebration an all-around home run!

 

Check out our albums on Facebook and Google+ for photos.

 

Tina Burns

Vice President

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Nix Law Group, PLLC receives $1,175,000 Jury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case in Oklahoma

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. client Nix Law Group PLLCOn June 13, 2013, a federal court jury in Muskogee, Oklahoma returned a verdict for $1,175,000.00 in a wrongful death lawsuit. Glendell Nix and Andy Campbell of Nix Law Group, PLLC in Edmond, Oklahoma represented Kelly Shatwell, the surviving spouse of Sherman Shatwell, in the lawsuit.  Ms. Shatwell alleged several health care providers failed to diagnose and treat her husband, Sherman, for tonsillar cancer.

 

Mr. Shatwell went to the Tahlequah City Hospital emergency room in Tahleqauh, OK complaining of pain on the left side of his neck.  The ER physician’s assistant ordered a CT scan without contrast.  The radiologist interpreted the films as suspicious and requested a CT scan with contrast be performed.  Dr. Phillips, the ER physician, ordered a CT scan with contrast.  The film was read off-site by a tele-radiologist. The radiologist sent a report back to the ER electronically.  The report said Mr. Shatwell had left tonsillar cancer and recommended an ENT doctor consultation.   However, the ER physician, Dr. Phillips, never read the results and never informed Mr. Shatwell of the results.  Instead, Dr. Phillips discharged Mr. Shatwell with a prescription for antibiotics.

 

Approximately a year later, after moving from Oklahoma to Texas, Mr. Shatwell noticed a growth on his neck, and he had become hoarse.  He went to the Scott and White ER in Temple, Texas.  Doctors diagnosed him with Stage 4 terminal tonsillar cancer.  He died less than a year later.  Experts testified that had Mr. Shatwell been diagnosed and treated at the time he went to the ER in Tahlequah he would have had an over 80% chance of cure.

 

After 8 days of testimony, a unanimous jury returned a verdict for $1,750,000.00 against Dr. Phillips, the ER physician, and his employer, Tahlequah Emergency Consultants.

 

Congratulations to the Nix Law Group on achieving justice for your client! Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support trial attorneys and our seventh amendment right to a jury trial.

 

Donna Jones

Senior Vice President

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Charitable Contributions

 

Travel for charity deductions, Advocate Capital, Inc. reportsIf you’re like most people, you enjoy making donations to charities.  It is one way we can serve our communities and give something back.  Donating not only helps a worthy cause, but it may also offer certain tax benefits.  In general, taxpayers are familiar with the tax deductibility of monetary and physical asset contributions, but did you know you may also be able to deduct your travel expenses associated with charitable giving?  The IRS recently provided a tax tip outlining the laws related to travel while giving to charity.  A list of some possible deductions include:

 

  • Air, rail and bus transportation
  • Car expenses
  • Lodging costs
  • Cost of meals
  • Taxi service

 

There are certain limitations and restrictions associated with these deductions.  Check out the IRS’ recent publication for more details.

 

 

Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP, CIA, CFE

Vice President, Finance and Administration

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Marketing Opportunity – Exclusive Access to 1-800-Attorney

 

Exclusive Marketing Opportunity with 1-800-Attorney, Advocate Capital, Inc. reportsHere at Advocate Capital, Inc., we work hard to serve our clients in a wide range of areas, which often includes providing resources and sharing valuable information to meet the various business needs in the trial lawyer community.

 

Marketing is one of the key business functions in a law practice and so we are happy to share with you a marketing opportunity that we recently became aware of.

 

1-800-Attorney, an easy to remember number for consumers, is now available for licensing in many areas across the U.S.   Exclusive access/licensing of this number also provides the user with access to the consumer facing website, 1800Attorney.com.

 

To learn more, contact Advocate Capital, Inc. long-time friend and client, Jeff Rasansky via email jeffr@1800attorney.net or via phone 1-800-529-1789.   If you sign up before the end of August 2014 and mention that you learned about the opportunity via the Advocate Capital, Inc. Blog, you may qualify for a special 60 day free trial period.

 

Thanks to Attorney Jeff Rasansky for sharing this opportunity.

 

Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services

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Texas Women Seeking Support in Pelvic Mesh Implant Fight

 

Women's group requests help in pelvic mesh case from Texas Attorney General, Advocate Capital, Inc. reportsI’ve blogged a couple of times in the space about Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney General and Republican Party nominee for Governor.  Mr. Abbott, who himself has been the beneficiary of consumer access to the courts, has since become quite the crusader AGAINST allowing others the same access.

 

According to a recent article in The Texas Tribune, a group of women and their attorneys in Texas are now asking Mr. Abbott to assist them in their battle against Johnson & Johnson, the primary manufacturer of pelvic mesh implants that the women say have caused severe complications, including bleeding, extreme pain and infections.

 

The women, “a coalition of ‘pelvic mesh survivors’”, is asking Mr. Abbott, in his role as Attorney General, to pursue legal action against Johnson & Johnson.  The women claim that the company “violated a state law that prohibits deceptive business practices, citing the company’s ‘knowledge of inherent danger’ of the mesh implants and the cost to Texans of subsidizing care for women treated at taxpayer-funded facilities.”

 

Mr. Abbott’s office, through a spokesman, declined comment on the matter, citing a “continuing investigation.”  Johnson & Johnson, likewise, refused to provide comment to the reporter, though the company and its lawyers have argued in court that “the implants were effective and that the company properly warned consumers about their related risks.”

 

Of course, patient activists disagree, and say that the company has not done enough to warn consumers about the “severe complications they may experience.”  The women’s group has sent a letter to the Attorney General informing him that they are seeking his assistance because his office has the “sole authority to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation” into the issues.

 

Based on history, I am doubting that Mr. Abbott crosses swords with big-money corporations like J&J, but the issue should be interesting to follow.

 

The full article can be read here.

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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American Association of Justice Annual Convention in Baltimore

 

Advocate Capital Inc. exhibiting at 2014 AAJ Annual Convention

Will you be attending the AAJ Annual Convention in Baltimore on July 26-29?

 

Michael J. Swanson, Donna Jones, Lisa Wagner, Tina Burns and Jeff Glueck will be representing Advocate Capital, Inc. at booth #932 throughout the convention. Stop by and discover how our case expense funding product can help you get even better results for your clients.

 

The 2014 AAJ Annual Convention will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center in the heart of downtown. Accomplished trial lawyers and experts will discuss the latest developments in trial advocacy and specialized topics at nearly 50 cutting-edge Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs designed to help you better represent your clients. Attendees can earn up to a year’s worth of CLE credits, including ethics credits, in just four days.

 

Don’t forget to visit our booth and enter our raffle for a chance to win a Pebble Steel Smartwatch!

 

We hope to see you there.

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Taxpayer Bill of Rights

 

Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Advocate Capital, Inc. reportsThe IRS recently adopted a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.  This has been a long time project of National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson.  Ten rights are included in this document.  Here are a few of them:

 

•  The Right to Be Informed

 

•  The Right to Quality Service

 

  • The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
  • The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
  • The Right to Privacy

 

View the full list provided on the Taxpayer Advocate Service website here.

 

Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP, CIA, CFE

Vice President, Finance and Administration

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Perseverance Pays Off for The Cooper Firm & Client

 

Advocate Capital Inc. client Lance CooperNo case is too large or too protracted for The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Georgia.  Attorney Lance Cooper recently settled a case against an insurance carrier that began with a catastrophic injury in 2004.  The plaintiff fell from a rooftop sustaining horrific injuries while he was assisting another contractor on the job (NOT his employer and NOT at his employer’s request).  He was an employee as defined by the general commercial liability policy purchased by the employer and suffered a bodily injury as defined in the policy.

 

The carrier, citing the “Employer’s Liability Exclusion” of the policy, denied coverage for the plaintiff’s claim, refused to provide the employer with a defense and/or indemnify the employer for any claims made by plaintiff even though this catastrophic injury claim could bankrupt the employer’s business because the potential liability far exceeded the available limits.

 

In September 2006, The Cooper Firm filed the plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit against the employer and others.  Again, the carrier refused to provide a defense for the employer.  Mr. Cooper served an offer of settlement in the amount of $1M in November 2006, that was within the policy limits.  By February of 2007, the carrier not only chose NOT to respond to the settlement offer but also attempted a declaratory judgment action against the employer.  The employer then filed a third-party complaint against the carrier and once again, the carrier refused to defend or indemnify employer.  To make things just a bit more interesting, the carrier sent employer a notice in April of 2007 that failure to pay the $500 deductible under the policy could jeopardize the coverage for plaintiff’s claim against the employer.  The employer forwarded the deductible check, which the carrier promptly returned because it had already denied coverage.

 

The parties in the underlying tort action engaged in extensive discovery for many months with no participation by the carrier.  Finally, in January of 2009, the carrier offered to settle the plaintiff’s claim for $5,000.  Counter offer rejected.   Employer’s defense counsel then withdrew from the case because the employer could no longer afford his services.  Plaintiff proceeded with the tort action against the employer.  An August 2009 bench trial resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff against the employer in the amount of $16MM+.  The employer assigned its rights to pursue a bad faith/negligence case against the carrier to the plaintiff.   Motions for Summary Judgment were filed and heard.  The case went to the Court of Appeals and finally the Georgia Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Court found that the carrier had waived its notice defense; that the carrier breached its duty to defend the employer; and that the plaintiff’s injuries were NOT sustained while he was acting in furtherance of the employer’s business thereby barring the Employer Liability Exclusion.

 

This incredible tale of insurance “stall and denial” tactics FINALLY ended via a confidential settlement in early 2014 after TEN YEARS of negotiation and litigation.

 

Should it take 10 years for a catastrophically injured man to receive justice and compensation?   We think not!  All of us at here at Advocate Capital, Inc. are thankful for attorneys like Lance Cooper who are both willing and able to go the distance with powerful insurance companies to insure that the wheels of our civil justice system continue to turn, albeit very slowly sometimes.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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Industry News: Attorney Christopher Brill Wins $2.4 Million for Cyclist Who was “Doored and Run Over”

 

Attorney Brill Wins bicyclist doored case, Advocate Capital Inc. reportsCongratulations Christopher J. Brill of Newton, Pennsylvania for your victory in the Ashley McKean case.  Back in 2011, Ms. McKean a then Temple University student was riding her bicycle when she was involved in a horrific crash.  The incident happened at the corner of Broad and Brandywine streets in Philadelphia when she was doored by a Honda Accord and then subsequently struck and run over by a van.  According to the filing she suffered multiple hip, pelvis, and leg fractures…many causing permanent damage and injury.

 

Thanks to the work of Attorney Christopher Brill, a jury awarded her $2.4 Million in damages.   The jury found both the driver of the Honda and the Van at fault for the accident.   The driver of the van is the owner of MCT Transportation who testified at trial that McKean “should have been riding on the sidewalk”, which as it turns out is against the law.  Ashley received $880,000 for future medical expenses, $1.334 million for pain and suffering and $200,000 for disfigurement. The trial lasted only 6 days.

 

According to the jury verdict, there was one attorney for the plaintiff (Mr. Brill) and 5 attorneys for the defense.  The jury’s decision was rendered on June 4th, 2014.  Thank you Christopher Brill for helping Ashley get her life back together and for advocating for us all.

 

Jeff Glueck

Vice President – Business Development

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Jury Awards $3.5 Million for Injuries in Community Based Residential Facility

 

Advocate Capital Inc. clients Boller & VaughanCongratulations to the team at Boller & Vaughan LLC and their clients on this outstanding jury verdict.  A Dunn County, Wisconsin jury found that the plaintiff, a 34-year-old developmentally disabled adult confined to a wheelchair with the mental capacity of a 5-year-old contracted a pressure sore down to the bone as well as a bone infection as the result of negligent care provided by the Aurora Residential Alternatives CBRF (community based residential facility).

 

Unlicensed staff treated the wound for months before the plaintiff was taken to an emergency room.  Further, the plaintiff’s mother and primary care physician were NEVER notified of the problem.

 

The jury awarded $195K for past medical expenses, $850K for past pain and suffering, $500K in punitive damages against the facility and $2MM in punitive damages against the parent company that owned this facility along with approximately 90 others in the state.   Read the entire article recently featured in the Leader-Telegram.  It is believed that this is the largest verdict in Wisconsin in a CBRF case.

 

Boller & Vaughan LLC offices from Madison, Wisconsin and focuses the practice on all types of injury claims with more than 30 years of experience.  Both founding partners Matthew Boller and Michele Vaughan work tirelessly to insure that those injured due to the negligence of others receive fair and just compensation.  To read more about other outstanding case results by the firm, click here.

 

It is a privilege and pleasure for Advocate Capital, Inc. to support the important work done by trial lawyers who are not afraid to challenge big insurance carriers by allowing our civil jury system to decide what fair compensation is for injuries caused by negligence.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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The Benefits of Etiquette

 

The Business of Etiquette, Advocate Capital, Inc.Business today is all about relationships.  Clients don’t want to work with a company, they want to do business with the people who are employed by the firm.  A recent article published by the American Institute of CPAs discusses how practicing good business etiquette can make a difference in how clients view your relationship with them.  A few pointers include:

 

  • Be courteous and thoughtful.
  • Listen!
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Keep a calm tone.
  • Avoid derogatory language.
  • Treat everyone the same.
  • Show respect and be sincere.

 

Today, as you send another email, answer the phone, or sit across the table listening to a client, focus on practicing these core principles of business etiquette.  It might just change the way your clients view their relationship with you!

 

Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP, CIA, CFE

Vice President, Finance and Administration

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Supreme Court Continues to Bar the Court Doors via Court-Enforced Arbitration

 

Supreme Court continues to bar court doors, Advocate Capital Inc reportsThe U.S. Supreme Court, especially the Roberts court, has passed down many decisions that have made it more difficult for consumers to have their day in court.  Possibly the most onerous decisions have been those that have continued to uphold arbitration clauses in agreements.

 

A recent article in The Nation begins, “For more than forty years, the Supreme Court’s conservatives have been engaged in a campaign to shut the courthouse door to consumers, working people, small businesses and others seeking redress for corporate wrongdoing.”

 

The article goes on to describe the impact these decisions have had on ordinary people.  A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) found that contract clauses mandating pre-dispute arbitration are a “common feature of consumer financial contacts.”  “Common” meaning that over 50% of credit card loans, 81% of prepaid charge cards, and in 44% of checking account agreements for insured deposits have these clauses.

 

Further, the CFPB found that 90% of these contracts, including almost all credit card loans, insured deposits and prepaid cards, prohibit participation in current or future class-actions in both judicial and arbitration proceedings.  The impact is that most consumers don’t even choose to seek redress, even though they may have been harmed.

 

These types of clauses are common not just in financial contracts, but also in cell phone contracts, nursing home contracts, individual employment contracts, shipping agreements, passenger tickets, and others.

 

The ramifications are obvious and detrimental to the rights of individual consumers to jury trials.

 

The full article can be read here.

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Keith Williams on the Lecture Tour

 

Advocate Capital Inc. friend Keith Williams lecture seriesKudos to longtime Advocate Capital, Inc. colleague Keith Williams as he continues his travels on the lecture circuit sharing his experience and expertise in trucking cases. He recently completed speaking engagements with the North Dakota Association for Justice, the Mississippi Association for Justice, the Kentucky Association for Justice and the New York Association for Justice sharing his “Establishing Liability Against Freight Brokers in Trucking Cases” presentation.

 

Keith Williams has been practicing injury law for over 20 years, has developed and refined the “liability model” for plaintiffs to prove liability against third party brokers for negligent hiring and retention. His presentation includes the “Broker Busting BASICS” publication he authored. BASICs is an acronym for Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. Each carrier is rated in these safety categories by the SMS (Safety Measurement System) employed by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) as the federal agency in charge of regulating the trucking industry.   WOW – it is indeed alphabet soup just understanding the terminology!

 

Mr. Williams is the founding member of Lannon & Williams as well as the Keith Williams Law Group. He is a past president of the Tennessee Association for Justice, is a member of The Public Justice Foundation, the National Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and Vice Chair of the Aviation Section of the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

 

We are thrilled to support the important work done by trial lawyers around the country and in particular, those like Mr. Williams who represent citizens injured by the negligence of others AND give back to their esteemed profession.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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Here We Grow Again!

 

Advocate Capital Inc. staff enjoy Maggie Moos Ice Cream2014 continues to be a record breaking growth year here at Advocate Capital, Inc.  In order to keep that growth going we recently doubled our sales team from 4 members to 8 full-time business development professionals.  We’d like to welcome our four new Business Development Managers:  Michelle Biddle, Kelly Brown, Barry Epstein and Kelly Hughes.

 

In order to “break the ice” on our new BDMs’ first day, we had the Maggie Moo’s ice cream truck stop by the office for a cool break on a hot Nashville summer day.  Click to see the photos on Facebook and Google+ and stay tuned for more good news coming from Music City!

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Free CLE Webinar: “Defeating Defendants’ Efforts to Pick Off Class Representatives: Beating the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment After Genesis”

 

Public Justice Executive Director Paul BlandThis month’s free webinar from Public Justice is tomorrow, July 9th, at 2:00pmET/11:00amPT.

 

With increasing frequency, corporate defendants in class actions are making offers of judgment to the named class representative, and then arguing that the case is moot (even when the plaintiff refuses the offer). While most courts rejected this tactic prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Genesis case, the law has become increasingly complicated and divided around the nation.

 

During this webinar, Executive Director Paul Bland will explore the principal arguments that plaintiffs can make to defeat corporate efforts to pick off the named class representatives, and discuss some practice tips that counsel should consider to strengthen their arguments and position against this cynical defense strategy.

 

Paul Bland has been a senior attorney at Public Justice since 1997 and presented at more than 100 continuing legal education or professional conferences in more than 25 states. As Executive Director, Paul manages and leads a staff of nearly 30 attorneys and other staff, guiding the organization’s litigation docket and other advocacy.

 

This free Speaker Series is for “members only” and is another great reason to join Public Justice today!

 

Click here for more details.

 

CLE Credit Provided

*CLE credit can be applied to AK, AK, AZ, CA, CO, FL, ME, MN, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OR, TX, and WI. States with no CLE Credit: CT, DC, MD, MA, MA, MI, SD.

 

Tina Burns

Vice President

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Content Marketing: Where Pictures > Words

 

content marketing where pictures greater than words, Advocate Capital Inc reportsIn a recent article on Getty Image’s blog Curve, it states that around “$134.7 billion will be spent on content marketing, video marketing and social media” this year. Businesses are always expanding their marketing initiatives and it is crucial to understand how to get the best results.

 

By using visuals in your content marketing, you will increase engagement, especially on social media. According to Hubspot, “people are 44% more likely to engage with content on social media that contains pictures.” The article listed several ways to improve your content marketing with images. Below are a few of the tips:

 

  • Use your pictures to tell a story – “Instead of just representing something, use pictures to show a beginning, middle and end, or choose a picture that allows interpretation of what happens next.”
  • Show real-looking people – “Anything too posed or cheesy can appear staged and put viewers off.”
  • Size your images appropriately – Ensure your image loads quickly and is compatible with all social media image guidelines for easy sharing.
  • Be positive – “People prefer passing on articles via email that have a positive theme, particularly those that are exciting, funny or surprising.”

 

Read the full article, “Seeing is Believing: Why Using Visual Content in Your Marketing Makes Sense.”

 

Remember, it is easy to search for free images on the web but you must make sure your images are not copyrighted before posting. Penalties and fines are enforced for any business using copyrighted images without permission.

 

Tina Burns

Vice President

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New Ways to Use and Grow Your LinkedIn Network

 

Networking tips for your LinkedIn network, Advocate Capital Inc. reportsNowadays, it’s not good enough to just create a LinkedIn profile and leave it. You have to engage and grow your professional network. Since this platform continues to evolve, you may be lost on which strategies are the best.

 

In a recent blog, Scott Gerber, founder of Young Entrepreneur Council, shared some new ways to get the most out of LinkedIn:

 

  • Get Involved in Niche Groups: Many users are members of broad category groups but joining more specific groups is “a great way to be seen as an expert and helpful resource.”
  • Use It for Conferences: Using LinkedIn to research speakers, exhibitors and other attendees helps you “meet the right people” before the event starts.
  • Start Writing: Blogging and sharing opinions with your LinkedIn network will encourage conversation and feedback within your industry.
  • Invest More of Your Time: This strategy is simple. If you want more from LinkedIn, you have to invest more time. “Even just 15 minutes a day will really bring in results.”

 

(Read the full ‘8 Lesser Known Strategies to Get More Out of LinkedIn’ Article)

 

LinkedIn is a powerful resource for professionals and businesses. Add a few of these strategies to your existing social media routine and see how quickly your interactions grow.

 

Tina Burns

Vice President

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July 4th is the 10th Anniversary of the 1st Known Death Related to GM Faulty Ignition

 

General Motors 10 year anniversary of first death from recall, Advocate Capital Inc reportsOn July 4, 2004, Shara Lynne Towne, 37, wife and mother, was killed in a single car crash while wearing her seatbelt, when her Saturn Ion struck a utility pole in a parking lot.  Auto product liability lawyers, BISNAR|CHASE filed suit against GM related to the crash in 2006 in what became known as the first fatality related to the faulty ignition switch. GM settled in a confidential settlement agreement in 2007.  Without question, Mrs. Towne’s husband and children continue to suffer the loss and July 4th will forever have a far different meaning in their lives.

 

There have been at least 12 additional fatalities reported that had GM “done the right thing” could have been avoided.  The lives of countless family members have been permanently impacted by the decisions made by the folks at GM.   One woman even suffered a false conviction related to an accident that killed her finance, when in reality the accident was caused by a faulty GM ignition system.  We’ve since learned that the defect could’ve been corrected for less than $1 per vehicle.

 

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of the death of Shara Lynne Towne, and as we remember the families of the other victims who lost their lives as a result of GM’s decisions perhaps consumers should be asking in the face of GM’s long overdue public statements, “Does GM Really Care?”

 

Brian Chase, the senior litigation partner at BISNAR|CHASE who represented Towne’s family, told The New York Times “GM knew of this defect back then and yet made a decision to quietly settle out of court so there would be no media or government attention,” Chase said. Chase also said he is skeptical about the impartiality of Anton Valukas who was hired by GM to conduct the internal investigation. “This was a person whom GM paid to conduct the investigation. To whom does he owe his allegiance? Could this be considered an objective, unbiased report? “I don’t think so. To me, it seems like the fox guarding the henhouse. It is a scandal that this company not only failed to recall vehicles in a timely manner, but also gave victims and their families the runaround,” Chase said. “Now, they are offering to set up a compensation program, which will be directed by the allegedly unbiased, Valukas. They need to step up and take responsibility here instead of making more attempts to dodge liability.”  What is GM really doing to demonstrate remorse?

 

Brian Chase and his Partners at BISNAR|CHASE will continue the fight to ensure that GM and other corporate giants are held accountable for decisions that result in preventable and unnecessary harm to consumers.

 

Brian Chase is the President-Elect of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

 

Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services

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Happy Fourth of July!

 

Advocate Capital Inc. July 4th Office HoursIn observance of the Fourth of July holiday, our offices will be closed on Friday, July 4th.  All payments, fundings and other transactions received on this day will be processed promptly on Monday, July 7th. Should you have any questions regarding the processing of any transaction, please feel free to contact our Accounting Team at 1-615-577-5448 or by email to this address: Accounting@AdvocateCapital.com.

 

Thank you for being our valued customer. The entire Advocate Capital, Inc. Team wishes a safe holiday to all of our customers, staff and their families.

 

Kelly O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP, CIA, CFE

Vice President, Finance and Administration

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Tort Reform – 10 Years Later in Mississippi

 

Mississippi Tort Reform 10 years later, Advocate Capital, Inc.In the 80s and 90s, the state of Mississippi was seen as a haven for those filing lawsuits.  Populist juries in the state were known to side regularly with plaintiffs and award large punitive damages.

 

However, in 2004, then Governor Haley Barbour led the tort reform charge in the Republican-controlled legislature that made Mississippi one of the first states to cap noneconomic damages and punitive damages.  Governor Barbour and his allies argued that tort reform was needed to ensure that the state could have decent health care – the claim being that doctors and hospitals were “fleeing” the state due to the threat of litigation.  Also, they argued that tort reform was needed to ensure a stable and prosperous business climate.  These are arguments that have been made many times since, but most have never been proven out.

 

Of course, the plaintiff bar argued (and I agree) that the sole purpose of damages caps are to make litigation issues into actuarial issues – i.e. if a defendant or insurance company knows that their maximum loss is fixed, they know exactly how much they can get away with and still remain profitable.  With these “reforms”, a plaintiff’s right to access the courts and their right to fair compensation is given short shrift in favor of the interests of big business and insurance companies.

 

A recent article in The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS) gives a good, and relatively fair, overview of this issue.  The article can be read here.

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The 2014 Rainmaker of the Year Awards

 

Rainmaker of the Year 2014, Advocate Capital Inc. reportsDo you know a great law firm marketer?  Nominate them for the 2014 Rainmaker of the Year Awards, presented by LawMarketing.com, The National Trial Lawyers and The Rainmaker Institute®.

 

These awards will recognize the accomplishments of attorneys and marketing directors (employed by a law firm) who have applied themselves, demonstrated creative marketing strategies, and are getting real results for their law firm.

 

Click here to learn more or to make a nomination.

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Thanks MATA for a Fantastic Convention Experience

 

Advocate Capital Inc.'s Donna Jones and Jeff Glueck at the MATA Convention 2014Last week, Jeff Glueck and I had the privilege of representing Advocate Capital, Inc. at the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys 56th Annual Convention at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, Missouri.

 

This convention is vigorously supported by MATA’s leadership, the participating law firms and the exhibitors.  As first-time attendees, we were uncertain what to expect; however,  the wonderful team who manage the events quickly welcomed us.   Special thanks to Sara Schuett, Executive Director, Jeannie Brandstetter, Director of Communications, Leanna Hagenhoff, Director of Legislative Affairs and ALL the members of this incredible staff.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support the important work done by trial lawyers across the country and this includes championing the efforts of outstanding organizations like the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

 

We look forward to the 2015 convention, which will again be held at the Lodge of Four Seasons June 25-28. Click on the links to view our Facebook and Google+ albums from the show.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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GM Recall Connected to False Conviction

 

GM recall connected to false imprisonment case, Advocate Capital Inc. reportsAccording to an article on Fox News Insider, a woman in Texas is suing General Motors Co. over her false conviction in connection to the recent recall. Candice Anderson pled guilty to criminal negligent homicide over the car crash death of her fiancé, Gene Erikson. When GM issued the faulty ignition switch recall, Ms. Anderson and her attorney, Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales LLP, reviewed her case and discovered that the recalled switch may have caused the crash of her 2004 Saturn Ion. This fact was later confirmed by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

 

The article states the Anderson lawsuit alleges GM “knew about the bad switches but failed to disclose the problem even though Anderson was pleading guilty.”

 

This story reveals the true impact of corporations choosing profit over public safety. Ms. Anderson was punished for a crime she did not commit and tortured by the guilt of her fiancé’s death for 10 years. Her case along with more than 50 other crashes and 13 deaths are all due to GM’s decision not to address the problem for more than a decade.

 

Who knows what other cases will emerge as NHTSA digs deeper into this recall?

 

(Read the full article)

 

Jeff Glueck

Vice President, Business Development

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Regina Valenti is the 2014 Paralegal of the Year

 

As seen on Boston GlobeReuters, and Yahoo! Finance

 

Advocate Capital and AAJ Paralegal of the Year 2014 Regina ValentiRegina L. Valenti, senior trial paralegal at the Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC, in New Orleans, Louisiana has been named the recipient of the 2014 Advocate Capital, Inc. / AAJ Paralegal of the Year Award.

 

Ms. Valenti was nominated for the award by Attorney Leonard Davis. Attorney Davis commented, “Regina is the top of the top notch paralegals who has worked tirelessly for many claimants in a number of cases. Her work is professional and she is a dedicated asset. We are glad she is on our team at Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC.”

 

As the senior trial paralegal, Ms. Valenti handles all aspects of file management, client contact and trials in multi-district litigation, mass torts, personal injury and products liability cases. She received her B.A. in paralegal studies from Nicholls State University and has spoken at continuing legal education courses for the American Association for Justice and the Institute for Paralegal Education. Ms. Valenti is a paralegal affiliate member of AAJ and active on the Paralegal Education Committee.

 

“Regina’s dedication to the paralegal profession is evident in her advocacy for her clients, her work and her passion for helping others,” commented AAJ Paralegal Affiliates Co-Chair Mary Skinner. “Regina has spoken at AAJ Conventions and other CLEs.  She was instrumental in starting the paralegal internship program in her firm, sharing her knowledge with the next generation of paralegals to ensure they are equipped and have the tools to become the best paralegals in order to get the job done, whatever it may be.”

 

To be considered for this prestigious award, candidates must have demonstrated their value as members of a legal services team, shown dedication to the legal profession, and shown dedication to AAJ’s mission. Ms. Valenti was selected from numerous entrants by the AAJ Paralegal of the Year Committee. In addition to a beautifully engraved award trophy, she will receive free airfare, hotel and conference registration for the AAJ Annual Convention July 26 – July 29, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

“We are so pleased to be able to collaborate with AAJ on this important award. Paralegals are a key component to any successful law firm.  We hope that this award will help draw attention to the important work that they do in our Nation’s civil justice system,” commented Advocate’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael J. Swanson.

 

The American Association for Justice, (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA®)), has supported plaintiff trial lawyers as the collective voice of the trial bar on Capitol Hill and in courthouses across the nation and by providing exclusive services designed for trial lawyers.  For more information, visit www.Justice.org.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. is the premier provider of strategic financial products and accounting services for successful trial law firms nationwide.  They have been serving the plaintiff bar for over 15 years from their headquarters in Nashville, TN and now enjoy a client base that extends nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.AdvocateCapital.com.

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