David Blackwell - March/April 2020





Over the years, I have done work that improved people’s lives. As an injury lawyer, the cases I’m most proud of are not necessarily those I’ve settled with the highest monetary value. The cases I’m most proud of are the ones I could add the most value to through my hard work and effort. When I think of those cases, two clients come to mind. The first is a lady who had been in a car wreck. The insurance company told her she wasn’t seriously injured, and they offered her maybe $1,500. She came in to see me, and we filed a lawsuit. That was enough to get the insurance company to bump up their offer to $13,000. It was better, but it wasn’t good enough. We kept working on the case, and by the time all was said and done, my client walked away with over a $100,000. What I really value about that case isn’t the dollar amount of the settlement, though. What matters is the impact that settlement had on my client’s life. It provided her the money to enter a program designed to help her bounce back from her injury and to help her cope and hopefully get back to working and managing her family again. That program cost $32,000. That’s a lot of money, and because of our work, she can afford to pay for it. Her doctor described her as the ideal candidate for that program and expected her to see excellent results. More importantly, she expected results. Adding Value and Improving Lives THE REAL REWARDS OF THE JOB Another case I’m proud to have worked on is one of the very few cases I’ve ever defended since I’m the person usually bringing the lawsuits. A 16-year-old young man came in and he said he’d been in a wreck. He wasn’t hurt, but they’d charged him with causing the wreck. At first, I told him it wasn’t a case I would take, but I still asked him to tell me about what had happened so I could point him in the right direction. He had just topped a hill and could not see anything behind him because of the hill. He slowed down as he topped the hill and was I’m proud of that. It wasn’t the biggest case I’ve ever settled, but it was one of the most satisfying.

about to turn left to go to a friend’s house as he went down the hill. At the top of the hill, the tractor trailer behind him slowed down because the truck driver saw this young man put his left signal light on and slow down to turn. An ambulance was coming up fast behind the tractor trailer and could not see around the tractor trailer or over the hill but still pulled into the passing lane, topping the hill, with a double yellow line. The ambulance driver hit this young man sending him across a field. The ambulance driver admitted to speeding, passing on a double yellow line, up a hill, but wanted a free pass because she had her emergency lights and siren on. Now, the 16-year-old could hear the siren, but he couldn’t see the lights because of the hill. It never occurred to him, or to anyone, that somebody would be topping a blind hill in the wrong lane. It was so absurd that I took the case. I investigated the case, including talking to the truck driver and talking to other witnesses. In addition, I was told the law enforcement officer who charged him and ticketed him used to supervise the person who was driving the ambulance that day. I got the case dismissed.

Sometime after the case was over, the young man’s mom came walking in the door of my office. I was on the phone, but I saw she had a bag in her hand. She set it on my desk and walked out. When I opened the bag, I found two huge metal dice with

the dots on them painted blue. That young man was passionate about metalworking, and he’d made them. Those dice are in my conference room to this day and always will be. That was my payment and probably the best payment I’ve ever gotten — it was from the heart.

If we can add value to your case and improve your life, we’ll tell you. If not, we’ll point you in the right direction.



Completely Different Roots Celebrating St. Patty’s Day in Ireland vs. America

What Is the Value of Your Personal Injury Case?

From extravagant parades to green-dyed rivers, something about St. Patrick’s Day feels quintessentially American — despite its Irish heritage. That’s because many common St. Patrick’s Day traditions actually originated in America, evolving beyond their roots in the Emerald Isle in a few key ways. On March 17, Irish folks commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland during the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Historically, these religious origins make for a more somber observance of St. Patrick’s Day. Many Irish families go to church and eat a modest feast as the extent of their celebration. However, St. Patrick’s Day in America is not so much about venerating Ireland’s patron saint as it is about celebrating Irish heritage in a foreign land. When Catholic Irish immigrants first came to the United States, they faced persecution from a largely Protestant population. In response, Irish Americans began using March 17 as a day to publicly declare and celebrate Irish heritage with parades and demonstrations. The observation of St. Patrick’s Day grew in popularity in cities with large Irish populations, like Boston, New York, and Chicago. Then, in the booming post-World War II economy, various businesses aggressively marketed the holiday to Americans of all heritages. Thus, it became a day when anyone could celebrate Irish American heritage, or at least it gave everyone an excuse to drink like they believe the Irish do. Ironically, imbibing was not a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland until relatively recently. Due to the religious nature of the holiday, pubs and bars closed down on March 17 until 1961. Additionally, the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage is another American addition. In Ireland, pork and cabbage was actually more common, but impoverished Irish immigrants substituted less expensive beef for pork, and the tradition stuck. Even though the most widely observed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations originated in America, many of them have found their way back to Ireland. Starting in 1996, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin now attracts over 1 million attendees with all the drinks and revelry that Americans love. You’d be hard pressed to find a green beer, though. In the hallowed birthplace of Guinness and whiskey, some traditions may be better left across the pond.

After you’ve been in a wreck in South Carolina and you’ve received medical treatment, a lot of times people want to know the value of their personal injury case. The answer is: It depends. It depends on the amount of damage done to your car, on the medical treatment you received, and on the extent of your injuries. Do you have scars? Did you miss work? If so, when you went back to work, were you able to do the same work you used to do, or did you have to change jobs and start earning less than you earned before the wreck? Oftentimes, even things that seem small can have a large impact on the settlement. Things like which state and county the wreck occurred in and your age can influence the size of the settlement you receive. Even your personality can influence your settlement. When the defense believes the jury is going to warm up to you easily, they’ll be more inclined to offer larger settlements. Many times, though, it comes back to the amount of insurance coverage available. What kind of insurance did the person who hit you have? What kind of insurance coverage did you have? Unfortunately, a lot of times, a case’s value tops out at the amount of coverage available even if the damages are ultimately going to cost more. To appropriately value a personal injury case, you need to understand the full extent of the damages available in your case, and the best way to do that is to sit down with an injury lawyer. At David Blackwell Law, we focus on delivering one-on-one, personalized representation to our clients. To learn more about how we can help you realize the full value of your injury case, visit DavidBlackwellLaw.com or call us for a free consultation at 803-285-0225.




Most people believe the McDonald’s hot coffee case is a prime example of “frivolous” lawsuits. This is also what the insurance companies want you to believe, and they spend lots of money to share just one side of the story to convince you it’s true. So, what really happened? Stella Liebeck, 79 years old, was driven to McDonald’s by her grandson. She ordered coffee. While stopped, she attempted to add cream and sugar. The entire cup of coffee spilled onto her inner thighs causing third-degree burns over 6% of her body. She spent 11 days in the hospital, which included skin grafts and the removal of dead skin. McDonald’s own quality assurance manager testified that the temperature set for coffee was not fit for human consumption, posing a severe burn risk. McDonald’s own expert acknowledged this risk. Even knowing this, McDonald’s refused to reduce its temperature-setting policies. The consultant for McDonald’s who recommended the high setting testified he never considered the safety ramifications of the high setting. And, during the prior 10 years, customers burned by McDonald’s coffee had filed over 700 reports, ranging from first- to third-degree burns. McDonald’s had the chance to settle this case for $20,000, the cost of the actual medical expenses and estimates for further treatment, but the jury awarded Ms. Liebeck $200,000 to compensate her for her injuries. To further punish McDonald’s for knowingly keeping the coffee settings too high, the jury awarded punitive damages of 2.7 million. The judge reduced the amounts to $160,000 to compensate Ms. Liebeck and $480,000 to punish

The Truth About McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case

McDonald’s. The parties later privately agreed to an even lesser amount to avoid years of appeals. That’s the truth! It’s not exactly frivolous when you know the full story.

Pagan’s Puzzle

In the Kitchen With Dana

Inspired by RealFoodWithJessica.com


Keep dinner light, simple, and easy with this paleo-friendly recipe.


• 2 salmon fillets (10 oz total) • 1 tsp salt • 2 tbsp ghee

• Zest from 1 orange • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice • 1 tsp tapioca starch

• 1 tbsp garlic, minced • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped


1. Heat oven to 425 F, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 2. Salt each fillet with 1/2 tsp salt. Bake for 6–8 minutes. 3. In a saucepan, combine ghee and garlic and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. 4. Add rosemary, zest, and juice. Cook for another 3 minutes. 5. Stir in tapioca starch until lumps disappear and mixture thickens. 6. Plate salmon and top with orange sauce.






Donahoe Kearney A T T O R N E Y S A T L A W 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 900 Washington, DC 20006 202.393.3320 DonahoeKearney.com



Adding Value and Improving Lives

The Evolution of St. Patrick’s Day What Is the Value of Your Personal Injury Case?


Did You Know? Orange Glazed Salmon


Would You Like Some Pi?

FRANK’S COLUMN Another Slice of Pi(e)

of the mathematical constant pi. Pi is special because it’s used to calculate the circumference of a circle. This might not sound like a big deal, but pi is used in engineering, construction, GPS, motors, power generation, and even television! If we hadn’t calculated pi, none of these achievements would be possible. Pi is pretty important, and it’s definitely worth celebrating! Here are two ways you can get in on the fun. LEARN TO RECITE PI Pi has fascinated mathematicians for centuries because it’s an irrational number, meaning the digits go on forever. If you want to try your hand at memorizing some of the numbers, here are the first 50 decimal digits of pi (with spaces, so they’re easier to remember!).

To make things simple, we often round pi up to 3.14, but many people have challenged themselves to memorize and recite as many digits as possible. In the Guinness Book of World Records, the record is currently held by Rajveer Meena, who recited pi to the 70,000th digit on March 21, 2015. And he did it all while blindfolded! EAT SOME PIE Another popular way to enjoy Pi Day is to bake and eat pie. This dessert is perfect because it’s both a homophone (same pronunciation as “pi” but with a different spelling and meaning) and a circle. Challenge your friends to a pie-baking contest, or buy your favorite pie from the store and have a pie- eating contest. And, while this may be a controversial stance, we believe pizza pie deserves a place in Pi Day celebrations, too.

Break out your calculators and grab your aprons because it’s almost Pi Day! This holiday has gained popularity among mathematicians and bakers alike — two groups that rarely overlap.

Pi Day is March 14, which, when written numerically, is 3/14, the first three digits

3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510

Here’s to Pi Day: the tastiest, nerdiest holiday of the year!



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