Donahoe Kearney - November 2019


november 2019



“TO THIS DAY, WE STILL DON’T HAVE THE PERFECTLY DESIGNED BEAUTIFUL OFFICE SPACE, BUT THE FIRST THING YOU’LL SEE WHEN YOU STEP THROUGH OUR DOOR IS A WALL OF PICTURES OF OUR CLIENTS. THEY REMIND US WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT.” This month marks 15 years since my partner Keith and I started this firm. In November of 2004, I walked into the plush K Street corner office of the founding partner of our old firm and told him Keith and I were leaving to start our own law firm. He tried to convince us to stay, tearing up as he talked about how he had “stolen” me from an insurance defense firm after having a case against me when I was a very young lawyer. It was an emotional meeting, but I’d made up my mind. Then the next day, they sued us for $15 million. I guess he got over the emotion of us leaving. And, if you’ve never had the experience of going home and telling your wife and three young kids you’re being sued for a boatload of money, well, I wouldn’t recommend it. As I’m sure you can imagine, that time in our lives was rather stressful (to say the least!). Every fee we earned was tied up in court, and we couldn’t use any of that money to run the new business. But, even in the midst of that, Keith and I had a lot to be thankful for. When we left our previous firm, we had asked 118 clients we had served if they would come with us to our new firm. All 118 of them (many of you reading this) said yes. Our new office space wasn’t going to be ready for a couple of months, so, in January, we moved our new firm to a dimly lit building on Vermont Avenue undergoing renovations at the time. It might have honestly been condemned later on. There was mold on the walls of the long hallway (I thought it was just green wallpaper at first). We knew the building manager, and she let us have some of the old office furniture left behind

by businesses that had moved out because the building was about to be gutted. I remember long walks on rainy winter nights between our old firm and our new office, talking on whatever primitive cell phone I had at the time, thanking clients for sticking with us and having faith in our vision. At home, my wife had us on a strict budget as we used our savings and borrowed more and more money to run the business and finance the cases. In fact, that year my family had a wonderful Christmas, one of our favorites to this day — we did the whole thing for $100. And the best gift that year was “Big Jake,” a motorized dump truck you could drive for my boys (2 and 5 at the time) that I trash-picked in the neighborhood, cleaned up, and put some construction stickers on — they loved it!

So, why did we leave cushy partnerships at an established law firm to start over and create Donahoe Kearney?

Why go through the hassle, uncertainty, stress, and litigation and put our families through all that?

Because of you.

You see, back in 2004, Keith and I knew there was a better way to help people. We were the two youngest partners at that big firm here in D.C. But that didn’t make us any less successful at attracting great clients and handling serious, complicated cases. We were the firm’s up-and-comers, and that would have been enough for a lot of young attorneys. But Keith and I wanted to do something more — it wasn’t enough. ... CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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THE SPORT THAT UNITED A COUNTRY THE 1995 RUGBY WORLD CUP In early November, the 2019 Rugby World Cup will wrap up in Japan. The international competition brings out world-class athletes and entertainment. While matches are certainly intense, respect for the competition and for referees is a core tenet of rugby culture. After going head-to-head with an opponent, you’ll still shake hands, and maybe have a beer together, at the end of a match. This principle was on full display nearly 25 years ago at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in South Africa. The South African Springboks were up against the New Zealand All Blacks, and a number of factors made this an exceptional match. Just a few years earlier in 1991, apartheid legislation had been repealed in South Africa. The policy had left a deep cut, and the country still had a long journey toward healing and reparation. Nelson Mandela, who had been elected in 1994, was set on championing a “rainbow nation” in this new postapartheid era. Rugby started in England in the late 1800s, and colonizers took it to South Africa, where South Africans of every color embraced the game. It was controversial because of its connection to the architects of apartheid, but Mandela saw rugby’s potential as a symbol of hope and unity for a country that desperately needed it. Springboks captain Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon in “Invictus,” the film adaptation of this event) thought the president’s support of the team was a brilliant act. “During those six weeks, what happened in this country was incredible,” Pienaar said. Just before the final game that would decide the 1995 World Cup winners, Mandela sported a Springboks jersey and stood behind the team. Through a hard-fought match, South Africa came out on top, and, after receiving the trophy from President Mandela, Pienaar explained the atmosphere of the event: “When the final whistle blew, this country changed forever.” If the 1995 World Cup was any indication, the camaraderie inherent to rugby can transcend all kinds of barriers. Meet a fellow rugby player or fan in any part of the world, and you’ll likely forge an instant kinship. In 2021, you can look forward to cheering on the women’s teams during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.


Like a lot of big firms, the one we worked at became more and more like a client mill. They took on high volumes of cases and cycled through clients so fast that they never got to know them. Clients were just numbers that turned into legal fees padding the bottom line. Keith and I wanted to actually

Moving into our first ‘real’ office in early 2005

form relationships with people — real

people who work hard to support the people they love. We wanted to

make a difference in people’s lives; we wanted to help the plumbers, electricians, carpenters, elevator mechanics, construction workers, and nurses of the world. We wanted to get to know and help the people and families who needed us. We wanted to hold hospitals, insurance companies, and construction companies accountable for the harm they caused regular people. We wanted to serve our community and make it safer for everyone. We were lucky we had all of you to support us during that time, and now. You’ve trusted us and referred your friends, family, and coworkers to us and helped us grow. We’re thankful we get to help all of you fight against a system that seems to knock you off your feet at every turn. To this day, we still don’t have the perfectly designed beautiful office space, but the first thing you’ll see when you step through our door is a wall of pictures of our clients. They remind us what’s really important. And we want everyone to know why we are here the minute they walk through our front door — our employees, our clients, insurance company lawyers, delivery drivers, the mailman, the Fed Ex guy. Everybody. It’s fitting that the month marking our firm’s start 15 years ago coincides with the Thanksgiving season. Looking back, we have a lot to be thankful for. So, to those of you who have been with Donahoe Kearney since the beginning, and to those of you who are new to the firm, thank you for your support. We may have helped you get back on your feet, but you’ve helped us stay on ours. So, that’s exactly what we did — and why we did it.

-Frank Kearney


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Q & A


ANSWER: Your treating physician, or any doctor who has treated you for the injury or illness that caused your disability, is critical to a successful ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) long-term disability claim. But how and when do you get your doctor involved? First, you have to read the disability insurance policy (this is the answer to a lot of long-term disability claim questions) to determine exactly how it defines disability. Chances are your doctor has a different definition of disability or thinks of the term “disability” differently. Does disability mean you can’t do any work at all? Does it mean you can’t do critical functions of your job? Does it mean you can’t do the essential functions of your job? How long does it have to last? Is there a medical condition that may be excluded? We talk to a lot of physicians and experts for our clients, and most treating physicians do want to help their patients. But they don’t know the answers to these types of questions. And without knowing that, they can actually hurt your case even though you are legitimately disabled and can’t work due to a serious injury or medical condition.

2. You need to give your doctor all the important information. (Obviously, this includes telling him the complete truth about your condition and limitations you have, but it’s more than that). This may include reports of other doctors you’ve seen, Functional Capacity Evaluations, test results, and physical therapy evaluations. You can’t assume your doctor has seen these records or has all this information. 3. Your doctor may need your job description. You can’t assume they know all of the physical aspects of what you do at work. Here’s an example: Are you a security guard? Does that mean you sit in a fancy D.C. office lobby watching people swipe their fobs when they come back from lunch? Or does it mean you are a security guard at a place where you break up fights, apprehend suspects, detain people, and carry a firearm? Don’t let your doctor guess about this. It’s hard to talk to doctors and medical specialists. They’re busy and would rather be practicing medicine than filling out forms and writing reports. But it’s important to get your doctor all the information, so it’s in your medical records and you can use it in your long-term disability claim. Have you received a letter saying your long-term disability benefits were denied or terminated? We’ll review that at no charge and give you our thoughts on what you need to do next — but get it to us quickly because there are harsh, unforgiving time frames to file an ERISA long-term disability appeal.

Keep in mind several things when talking to your doctor:

1. Doctors are busy — really busy. You may need to request and pay for extra time to see your doctor and discuss your condition because a routine visit may not give you enough time.

Just call 202-393-3320 to arrange to get it to us.

And remember, our How to Talk to Your Doctor tips apply to all kinds of cases and situations! Just ask!

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MEET NICK! AND HIS GRANDMOTHER’S FABULOUS CORNBREAD DRESSING Hi! Nick Lampkin here. I’m honored to be the new intake operations manager at Donahoe Kearney. When you reach out to the front desk during business hours, you’ll be talking to me! I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for 10 years now, but I was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, born in Oklahoma, and I’ve been all over! Family, music, and food are the things I love most; when I’m not helping our fantastic clients, I’m a father, musician, radio host, and aspiring chef and bartender. I’m very grateful to be the newest member of such a phenomenal, hardworking team. I’m excited to get to work. I look forward to all I will learn, and I’m eager to do my part to ensure all our clients — past, current, and future — continue to achieve the results they need and deserve. Please let me know how I can be of service.


Autumn and the holiday season are fast approaching. I don’t always love the chilly weather, but good family, friends, and food always make it worthwhile. This cornbread dressing recipe embodies the essence of what I love about the holidays; it was passed down from my grandmother to my mother, who passed it on to me. I love cooking and trying new things in the kitchen, so I’ve made a few modifications (*ahem* improvements) of my own. Two great things about this recipe are 1) how quick and easy the prep is, and 2) how creative you can be once you get the basics down! So, feel free to add your own extras. Anyway, loquaciousness aside, here’s our dressing recipe with vegan substitutions in parentheses.




1 box Jiffy Cornbread mix (or cornbread mix of your choice) 1/3 cup milk (a little more than 1/3 cup non-dairy milk; eyeball it, but don’t drown your cornbread mix) 1 egg (1/4 cup applesauce)

1/2 can cream of chicken soup

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1/2 cup chicken stock or veggie stock 1 red onion, chopped Honey to your preferred sweetness

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Spices according to your preference: garlic powder, black pepper, sage (you don’t need too much sage!), cinnamon, and nutmeg

2 tbsp butter

1/2 can cream of mushroom soup

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Heat oven to 400 F. 2. Prepare cornbread mix per instructions with the milk and egg, and bake until golden brown. (Leave the oven on!) 3. Let cornbread cool briefly. Then, spread 2 tbsp butter across the cornbread to add moistness. 4. Crumble the cornbread with a fork or spatula in the baking dish. 5. To the same baking dish, add the remaining ingredients to the crumbled cornbread, and blend your new batter with a whisk or a wooden spoon. Use your spoon to spread the batter flatly and evenly throughout the baking dish. 6. Return the baking dish to the oven, and let it bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown. 7. Remove it from the oven, and let it cool for 5 minutes. This dressing goes GREAT with cranberry sauce or nearly any of your other favorite toppings, but it’s also absolutely delicious on its own. Since I was a kid, this has been my favorite holiday food, easily. I’m glad to share it with you, and I hope that you and yours will enjoy it, should you decide to try it out at home. Much love. –Nick





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FRANK’S EPIC THANKSGIVING FAIL When Kathy and I first got married, we spent our first Thanksgiving hosting her parents, who had moved to L.A. after they retired, and her siblings in our small apartment we could just barely afford. We were just out of law school and didn’t even own a TV (which my father-in-law promptly bought when he saw this bleak condition, so we could watch football, thank God). The next year, we went to see them. It was my first time in California (nothing says “working class” like never being west of the Mississippi) and, even for a traditional holiday guy like me, it was just awesome — beautiful weather, palm trees, movie stars, etc. You see, both sets of parents were celebrating at their houses that year and both wanted us to come over with the baby. I thought that was a great idea: one place for dinner, one place for dessert, and the very real possibility of two Thanksgiving dinners and desserts. (I could eat like that then.) But, when you try to do two Thanksgivings, timing is critical. So, when we showed up at my parent’s house at the same time they had eaten every single year I’d been alive, and my mother said, “Oh, remember? We decided to eat later this year,” I had an uneasy feeling that something had gone terribly wrong. This was way before text or email confirmation, and I had apparently been told this information in a phone conversation with my mother, somewhere wedged between her asking when could the baby come over and when could the baby come over again after that. But we couldn’t stay for the late dinner because we had promised my in-laws we would be at their house later. But my in-laws moved back to D.C. the next year, and that’s when it happened — the Thanksgiving Fail. We’d had a baby a few months before, and nothing inspires grandparental pressure like the first grandchild on both sides.

So, we sat around, smelling the turkey, stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, apple pie, all cooking away. I’m starving just thinking about it. But we had to go to the next house.

And you know how it is with a baby; everything took forever, and we were way late.

We got in the car hungry but knew we’d be eating as soon as we made the 45-minute trip. Also note, you drive a lot slower with a new baby, and it takes 20 minutes just to get in the car, so we got there an hour and a half later. And, when we got there? Nothing. My mother-in-law said, “Oh, I thought you were eating at the other house and were just going to stop by for dessert. We ate at noon. Let me hold that baby.” Too embarrassed to admit I had messed up the times in an attempt to pull off this crazy idea with a new baby and had succumbed to the powerful pressure of new grandparents (and most of all, had missed my opportunity for two Thanksgivings), I think we ate leftovers or went to a drive-through or something. sensitivity. I’m just so relieved that I can move on to the next stage in my life. And I couldn’t have done it without you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!” –K.A., Rockville, MD “I was out from work on workers’ compensation for months, and I was not aware that I should probably consult with an attorney. I had no intention of retaining an attorney. Nobody tells you these things, especially when you think you will get better and return to work in a short period of time. That was not the case for me. I recommend this law firm highly because they value their clients and provide the utmost respect and integrity in handling your case. They are professional, honest, understanding, and helpful to those in need of their assistance. I am now able to focus on getting well and putting my life back together! What a blessing. Thank you so much!” –Ms. R., MD So, I totally get it when people say how stressful the holidays are! And that’s also why we host Thanksgiving.


“Mr. Kearney and Staff: It’s been almost three months since I’ve received my settlement. It was far more than I imagined and has been an invaluable financial blessing. It has helped me accomplish goals that I would have never been able to do otherwise. Words do little to describe the joy and peace you’ve helped usher into my life. Please continue to change lives as you did mine.” –L.H. Washington, D.C. “I’m in real tears right now. You are just incredible! I cannot thank you enough for being by my side during this journey. Although I was discouraged at times, you handled my concerns with clarity and

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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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1 15 Years for Donahoe Kearney 2 15 Years for Donahoe Kearney (continued) The 1995 Rugby World Cup 3 Q and A 4 Meet Nick and Enjoy Some Fabulous Cornbread Dressing

Grandma’s Legendary Cornbread Dressing A True Thanksgiving Fail Testimonials



Frank’s Column



Raise your hand if you thought it was time for a fresh look ( not me, I’m talking about this newsletter ). We’ve been trying to give you good, interesting, sometimes funny info on the law to read every month. This is not some boring commentary on legal issues, so we’ve got a fresh look that I hope delivers. So, let us know what you think! Most of all, let us know what’s happening in your life — we’d love to hear about it. Happy Thanksgiving from the Donahoe Kearney team!


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