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Adventures in lawyer advertising: Battle of the Hammers

For years, personal injury law advertising and violent imagery have gone hand in hand. Only in this field would we get a video of an unhinged attorney smashing a pickup truck into a parked car and call it an advertisement. The more they can yell or blow things up, it seems, the better.

Keeping with the tradition of aggression, we have not one, not two, but three different personal injury lawyers who have branded themselves “The Hammer.” But in the dog-eat-dog world of personal injury law, there can only be room for one Hammer. So who should win the rights to the title?

Should it be Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley from Virginia, who compares personal injury law to making sausage? Or Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro, the personal injury attorney possibly from New York (or Canada or Florida), who claims he loves to play rough? Or our entry from down South, Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler, who is supposedly meaner than a junkyard dog?

Which Hammer should reign supreme? Let’s review the evidence….

Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley, hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, makes his case entirely through an extensive YouTube presence. Show this guy a camera and he will yell at it.

Stanley holds himself out as the “Avenger for the Injured” and assures us that size matters, in terms of client recovery anyway (clever there, Hammer). In my favorite spot, the Hammer conjures scenes from The Jungle as he informs us that “getting you a fair settlement from stingy insurance companies is a lot like making sausage, you don’t want to see it done.”

If you haven’t had your fill of Lowell Stanley yet, there is a seemingly endless supply of commercials to watch, including this one, this one, and this one.

To sum it all up, someone has created this awesome montage that transforms Stanley into a rapper, and features the likes of Hulk Hogan, Steve Urkel, and, of course, MC Hammer:

Well done, sir.

The next Hammer in contention is a fellow with a sketchier past. Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro used to advertise in the Rochester, New York area by way of predictably low-budget commercials featuring a lot of monotone and screaming. Like Stanley, Shapiro has a large YouTube presence showcasing his finer work.

With catch lines such as “I sue drunks” and “I love to play rough,” Shapiro makes a compelling case that he truly is The Hammer of all hammers. There are other videos, including one where he just yells the word “victims” over and over again. Shapiro loses points to Stanley in the remix department, though, because his montage can’t even compete. I mean, they couldn’t conjure up footage of even one dancing 80s star?

But nothing can top the ad where Shapiro professes: “I cannot rip out the hearts of those who hurt you. I cannot hand you their severed heads. But I can hunt them down and settle the score.”

OK then. If that’s not a lawyer who will fight for you, I don’t know what is.

According to Urban Dictionary (yes, this guy has an Urban Dictionary entry), Shapiro’s tagline was, “I may be an SOB, but I’m your SOB.” Nice.

But before we hand the Golden Hammer Trophy to Shapiro, it’s time look at The Hammer’s dark side. In 2002, The Hammer was nailed with a $1.9 million malpractice verdict after he accepted a $65,000 settlement on behalf of a car crash victim who was in a coma, despite never having met his client. As it turns out, the settlement undervalued the victim’s injuries and didn’t pay his medical bills. It also came out during videotaped testimony (because why would the lawyer be at the trial?) that Shapiro had never tried a case, hadn’t lived in New York for over ten years, and let subordinates such as paralegals handle his cases while he lived in Florida.

Not cool, Hammer. I’ll be taking that trophy back now.

Our last contestant under consideration is Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler. As always, we have a slew of ads, courtesy of the magic of YouTube.

Adler promises, “you call, I’ll hammer” in the requisite Texas drawl, while assuring us that he bites, given that he’s “meaner than a junkyard dog.” There are other videos out there, but where Adler really seems to wander off the path of sanity is when he starts talking about the possible bankruptcy implications “if you get hit by a UFO….” Sure, why not?

Adler makes an admirable effort to market to potential Spanish-speaking clients in this spot, where he promotes himself as El Martillo Tejano. So, he’s not just The Texas Hammer, but the Spanish Texas Hammer, too.

Sadly, there is no remix video for the Texas Hammer. It seems his fans don’t love him as much as the other Hammers’ fans do. Or maybe they have more important things to do with their time. Either way, it is definitely a weakness in Adler’s case.

So, who is the Supreme Hammer? I have to give this one to the Avenger for the Injured, Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley, for the sheer number of crazy commercials he has put out, although I confess that the scale was tipped by the awesome rapping montage. But I will give a special Foreign Language category award to Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler. Keep up the good work, sir. And Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro — I’m pretty sure that a huge malpractice verdict and a confession that you’re not even really a lawyer take you out of the running. Feel free to slip out the side door while no one’s looking.

Attribution:

Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Battle of the Hammers
Natasha Lydon
September 25, 2012
Above the Law
http://abovethelaw.com/2012/09/adventures-in-lawyer-advertising-battle-of-the-hammers/

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InJustice the Film: Austin premiere scheduled Oct. 9 (TX)

The Austin premiere of InJustice the Film is scheduled to begin 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson Lane.  The event is sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation –Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA).  Seating is limited and reservations are required for this free event.  Doors open 6:15 p.m., food and drinks will be available for purchase.  Visit http://injusticescreeningtx.eventbrite.com/ to reserve your space.

InJustice is a feature length documentary which showcases how the class action lawsuit, born from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was skillfully managed by a small group of trial attorneys who manipulated legal rules, procedures — and even their own clients — to become an international enterprise that rivals the scope and profits of Fortune 500 corporations.

If in the central Texas area, hope you’ll join us for a great evening!

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The Death Tax: alive, still kicking

The Death Tax is projected to skyrocket in upcoming months.  Estate of Denial® addresses the ongoing use of probate venues and probate instruments (wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney) to perpetrate Involuntary Redistribution of Assets actions against the dead, disabled and incapacitated – and their families or other heirs/beneficiaries.  We see property rights trampled as the legal system is used to loot estates by diverting lifelong accumulations of assets from a property owner’s intended recipients to never-intended or outside parties. The Death Tax is government-sponsored estate looting and is equally harmful as actions perpetrated by non-governmental grave robbers, asset looters, property poachers and walker stalkers.

An estate tax discourages productivity and prosperity. It can thwart motivation and economic innovation – foundational principles on which this country was built.  While the generation of prosperity through hard work, creative thinking and discipline was once aspired to and celebrated, today’s world too often seems to begrudge success and foster a skeptical view that if someone is “rich,” perhaps they acquired it less than honestly or were undeservedly “lucky.” As the trickle-down value of wealth – did a poor man ever give you a job? – seems sadly lost, also being challenged is the concept that one’s earnings are their own to keep spend, save or reinvest/redistribute per their own accord.

Fox News recently aired this interview on the Death Tax:

Attribution:

‘Death tax’ rate set to almost double in coming months
Jul 10, 2012
FoxNews.com
‘Death tax’ rate set to almost double in coming months
Jul 10, 2012
FoxNews.com
http://video.foxnews.com/v/1729106112001/death-tax-rate-set-to-almost-double-in-coming-months/

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Philip K. Howard on a broken legal system where common sense is uncommon (TX)

Estate of Denial® was recently alerted to a compelling Philip K. Howard video which as we move through the 2012 election cycle contains important perspective that – whether they realize it or not – is impacting the lives of all Americans.  Howard is founder of Common Good, a nonpartisan, nonprofit reform coalition that offers new ideas to restore common sense to all three branches of government.

In the video, Howard discusses how lawsuits have damaged basic trust in our society, not only stifling business growth and innovation, but also in limiting our freedom.  These same limitations on freedom are increasingly seen in probate venues as abusive use of legal instruments like wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney threaten the property rights of individuals by too often illicitly diverting or otherwise ignoring specified wishes with regard to final distributions of assets.  Or, as we call it at EoD, estate looting.  These acts also impede the inheritance rights of legitimate heirs and beneficiaries.

“We’ve been trained to squint into a legal microscope, hoping that we can judge any dispute against the standard of a perfect society, where everyone will agree what’s fair, and where accidents will be extinct, risk will be no more,” Howard says.  He says that “what people can sue for establishes boundaries for everyone else’s freedom.”

Howard further discusses how a lack of personal responsibility creates more legal chaos as business and other entities take defensive actions hoping to avoid lawsuits.  This absence of common sense and personal responsibility was suggested in a July 12 letter in Bell County’s Temple Daily Telegram.

A July 8 lightning strike at the city of Temple’s water treatment plant temporarily disabled operations causing the city to issue a “water disaster declaration” based on fears that a diminished water supply could hamper fire department efforts in the event of a fire.  At a point, residents were put under a boil water notice thus apparently prompting this letter to the local paper:

Boil water rigorously

During the recent water treatment plant shutdown, the city of Temple website instructed me to “boil water rigorously for two minutes before consumption.”

This caused me to badly burn my mouth.  Who should I complain to?

Michael Craig
Temple

While unlikely to be published, this response was submitted by an EoD-affiliated individual experienced with both abusive legal practices and the common sense void thriving within the legal industry specifically and the public at large.

This letter is in response to the July 12, 2012 “Boil Water Vigorously” letter submitted by Michael Craig.

I would caution Mr. Craig the next time he is planning on taking a shower and washing his hair with shampoo.  If he follows the shampoo manufacturer’s instructions (i.e. lather, rinse, repeat) he will never get out of the shower and be able to submit another insightful “Letter to the Editor” again!

John Anderson
Temple, TX

Howard says “the land of the free has become a legal minefield” causing much work to be “paralyzed by fear of suits.”  This Letter to the Editor is only one reminder that Howard’s absolutely right.  Though Temple chose a prudent course geared toward overall public protection, today’s world sees many entities fearfully reacting to similar situations by deferring to often isolated and unknown legal threats that seemingly abound in our current environment.  A “need to overhaul and simplify the law” is a generalization of Howard’s advocated course, but such a thought process undoubtedly heads in the right direction!

For substantive reform to occur, however, people will have to recognize the negative impact of overreaching regulations along with the growing numbers of nonsensically intrusive laws.  This is a complicated issue with many separate components deserving attention, but the important starting point comes with understanding how an out-of-control legal system is limiting freedom and self-interestedly consuming resources (financial and other).  This is not a problem affecting only large businesses, the “rich” or some other population segment that rarely draws empathy.  Many other Americans are increasingly harmed by this broken legal system without ever realizing what’s happening.

This video provides a great start for understanding what’s at stake today and the threats a broken legal system poses for future generations.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.

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Family takes issue with Michigan estate recovery laws

A new dispatch from the Land of the Gimme-Gimmes and the Home of the I-Want-Mores.  Wouldn’t we all like to keep our property for ourselves rather than use it for cost of living expenses like nursing home care?  But that’s not the real world.  And don’t think Medicaid planning is the answer!  If that’s your solution, at least do it honestly by stealing outright from your neighbors, friends and other family members instead of hiding behind a theft-disguised-as-a-government-program action.  Estate of Denial® has written on that subject many times.

Nonetheless, whether the financial burden falls on taxpayers or companies in a union environment, affording a populace that embraces one’s adulthood spent sporting the maturity of a 13-year-old with generous parents on allowance day is expensive and unsustainable.  In Michigan’s years-long descent into economic oblivion, it could be hoped this realization might begin to emerge.  Evidently not.

Kudos to Katherine Thelen of Grand Rapids for this comment:

So let me get this straight, you want to take care of everyone, not make them pay for their own care, not have your taxes increase, have a balanced budget and if you don’t get this fairy tale you blame the government? What happen to personal responsibility? If they want to keep the house, give the state of MI $39,000.

A ray of sunshine!!  Even if personal responsibility isn’t a component of this family’s belief system, the self-serving play would have been to at least educate themselves on who was picking up their mother’s long-term care tab.  In doing so, they would likely have found that on behalf of Michigan taxpayers, the state has every right to put a lien on this property in order to satisfy an unpaid debt.  Instead, resistance to the “no such thing as a free lunch” reality continues.

Here’s the article inspiring this rant:

GLENN, Mich. (WOOD) – Families dealing with the death of a parent are finding that her will doesn’t matter. The State of Michigan has cut in line to get the proceeds of her estate.

Lillian Collins’ family was supposed to keep her home near Glenn in Allegan County — which has been in the family since 1950 — after she died last year at age 84. Now, instead, the State of Michigan wants it.

Shirley Logsdon and her brother were shocked when they found out that the will their mother left didn’t matter. The siblings were supposed to inherit the house but now the state has gone to the Michigan Probate Court and put a lien — a claim on property to settle a debt — on it.

“They’re asking for $35,000,” Logsdon told 24 Hour News 8.

That’s because Lillian Collins spent the last year of her life in a nursing home and was covered under Medicaid.

Since July 2011, the state has been enforcing the Estate Recovery Law. The law aims to recoup taxpayer money from individuals who received long-term Medicaid care.

“My brother is 62 years old,” said Logsdon. “He’s getting ready to retire. The house was willed to him. We both knew the property was willed to both of us and now if the State of Michigan takes this property, he’ll be kicked out on the road. He has no place to go.”

Elder law and estate planning attorney David Carrier said the state is trying to get what money it can.

“They’re looking under the cushions for the loose change,” said Carrier.

Carrier said some states have had similar laws for years, but have recovered little money for the taxpayers.

“Less than 1%,” said Carrier. “This is not a solution to ‘How do we pay for long term care?’”

Carrier says he was surprised when the state decided to try estate recovery because it applies only to cases that go thru Probate Court and there are ways to avoid that, such as using Trusts to preserve assets for the family.

“There are ways to hang on to the house, but you have to plan,” said Carrier. “You don’t get any do-overs.”

There are some hardship exemptions in the recovery law, but so far Logsdon has been told they don’t apply in her case.

The family has appealed and is waiting for a hearing date — possibly the first since the state has started enforcing the law.

Attribution:

Family may lose home to Estate Recovery
Law aims to get back taxpayer Medicaid money
Henry Erb
March 27, 2012
WoodTV.com
http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/allegan_county/Family-may-lose-home-to-Estate-Recovery

 

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