Deadly Police Chase, Paltrow Trial, Hike

Deadly Police Chase, Paltrow Trial, Hike

April 2023 Newsletter

Rana Law Group Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Another Deadly Police Chase
  • Paltrow Trial
  • Hike to the Jack’s Fork River

Another Deadly Police Chase
In the October 2022 newsletter, I discussed how civil litigation from police chases resulted in insurance companies paying out settlements and, by extension, refusing to provide coverage.  The intent was to potentially curb dangerous police chases because they would no longer have insurance coverage.  Unfortunately, last week another innocent motorist died in a police chase in St. Louis.  It is sad these keep happening, especially because it could happen to any one of us on the road who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Doing the type of work I do, it is tough not to imagine this happening to my loved ones or even me, which is why I try to proceed cautiously through an intersection, even when I have a green light.The Post-Dispatch reports at least ten people lost their lives to police chases in the past year and a half.  Seven of these happened during a single two-week span.  This most recent incident involved the police chasing a man accused of stealing from Dollar General.  While I believe we need to deter crime, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the victim, 34-year-old Jerome Hightower, lost his life to catch what ended up being a petty criminal.  It is easy to view Mr. Hightower as just a statistic that many of us do not know, however, he has a name and a family.  Would any of us reading this personally trade our lives, or the life of someone we love, to get a thief off the streets of St. Louis?  Of course not.  Unfortunately, Mr. Hightower and his family did not get a choice.  That decision was made for them, against their will.  It is easy to say, “we have to catch these criminals at any cost and be tough on crime” until the cost is borne by someone we know.I cannot imagine what Mr. Hightower’s family must be going through at this moment.  At the same time, I also cannot help but think enough is enough and the cost of catching a petty criminal cannot be an exchange for someone’s life.  The unlikely heroes in this scenario may still end up being the insurance companies, who can be the catalyst for change by denying coverage in an attempt to stop this costly practice.

Paltrow Ski Trial
While the Gwyneth Paltrow skiing trial was covered extensively by the media, it turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill civil personal injury case.  The plaintiff (the injured party) claimed Ms. Paltrow caused a collision with him while skiing and then fell on him, causing broken bones and a concussion.  The plaintiff had a tough case both from a liability standpoint because the parties were engaged in an inherently risky (and expensive) activity, which is always tough for a jury.  Moreover, this was a classic case of “he said, she said”, so juries tend to be swayed by the evidence presented as well as the credibility of the parties.One of the most compelling pieces of evidence was from the defense on behalf of Paltrow.  Her expert created an animation which showed how Paltrow believed the incident happened.  While demonstratives are not an exact recreation of what occurred (no one can perfectly recreate what happened because of conflicting testimony), they are compelling for a jury, especially for those who are more visual learners.  While the plaintiff had an eye witness (unfortunately not independent because it was his friend), the animation may have been too persuasive because (rightly or wrongly) the jury probably adopted Paltrow’s version as how it occurred.One unique feature of the case was that the injured party, Terry Sanderson, sued Gwyneth personally.  Mr. Sanderson knew Ms. Paltrow would be able to pay for the damages since she is a high net worth individual.  This contrasts starkly to almost all cases not involving a high net worth individual.  In ALL the cases our office takes, an insurance company is who will be responsible for the settlement or verdict, not the individual defendant.  In a jury trial in Missouri, the jury does not get to hear if there is automobile insurance (unless it is a suit against the insurance company directly) but it is safe to assume there is an insurance company in the background.We recently had a trial where a young man rear-ended our client on the highway.  During the jury selection (also called voir dire), people said “there is no way I could render a big verdict against this kid, even if the evidence supports it, because I do not want to ruin this kid’s life”.  While that sentiment is fair, it is technically irrelevant (the law states that is not supposed to matter) but, practically, the “kid” would never have been responsible for a penny of the verdict.  A good personal injury lawyer will have properly set up the case such that the insurance company will have no choice but to pay the eventual verdict because the insurance company (not the defendant driver) chose to proceed to trial in an attempt to save money rather than make a good-faith settlement.  Our office has been incredibly successful at getting paid the full jury verdict because we properly paper the insurance claims file, which forces the insurance company to pay rather than risk their insured (the other driver) from having to sue the insurance company for bad faith failure to settle the claim.

Going back to Paltrow, I cannot wait for the next high profile trial!

Hike to the Jack’s Fork River
As one who does not love the cold, I was happy to have a “short” winter and am loving these sunny and 60 degree days before the humidity, mosquitoes and heat roll in for the summer.  When we went down to the country for our annual woodchopping weekend at my mother-in-law’s, we were fortunate to have perfect weather.  After some hard, physical labor chopping and stacking wood (quite the change from my typical day behind a computer), we hiked down to the Jack’s Fork River.  Despite the sunny weather, the water was very cold still and not ready for a float trip (because getting out and swimming is my favorite).If anyone wants to see this part of Missouri, I suggest taking a trip to Echo Bluff State Park.  They have beautiful cabins and campgrounds on the property and activities including hiking, fishing and floating on the Current River.  There are several beautiful springs and mills in the area as well, plus the views are breathtaking!

Case Referrals  

From time to time, clients call and ask which type of cases we handle.  My practice is built on referrals from satisfied clients.  I know that if I work hard and do a good job for my clients, they will tell their friends about me.  The best compliment from a former client is that client entrusting me with the potential case of their friends and family.  Our office specializes in the following cases:

  1. Personal Injury (auto collisions, trucking, motorcycle, slip and fall)
  2. Work Injuries
  3. Traffic tickets and DUI/DWI

If you know someone that meets these criteria, please have them call my office.  If someone does not quite fit the above criteria, please still have the prospective referral give me a call as I can usually help them find the right attorney via a referral.

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