Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau - March 2018

77 Central Street, Manchester, NH 03101 • • 603.669.7070 • March 2018


How I Got Into the Civil Justice System

I ’ve been in my clients’ shoes, except, of course, mine are red sneakers. You see, I have a neurological disorder, which means I walk with a cane, sometimes roll in a wheelchair, and can’t wear formal “lawyer” shoes. Instead, I wear red sneakers wherever I go. Yes, even to court! Because even a gentle touch can cause immense pain, my daughter, Elizabeth, suggested the color red. People are sure to see me coming and then be a lot less likely to bump me. Believe me, it works. Whenever I’m in court, I nearly always ask jurors, “Why do you think I’m wearing these red sneakers?” Nine times out of 10, at least one will say something like, “Because you’re myself. While both are true, the real reason I ask the questions is it usually eases the tension in the courtroom with a little self-deprecating humor. I always respond with some kind of self-targeted joke. Laughing at something serious, like my own neurological disorder, brightens my workplace and my clients’ lives. It also makes it okay to discuss other equally serious issues during the trial. If we can talk about my pain — and laugh — we can talk about the case. Stepping into my clients’ shoes comes naturally, sneakers or not. I’ve been where my clients are when they come to me, and I know what they need. About 15 years ago, I was the sole witness to a pedestrian hit-and-run crash. My father was the victim. It was the first time in my life I had to deal with the civil justice system, and I have to tell you, it was not a good experience.

My wife, our 22-month-old, Elizabeth, and I had flown to Florida to visit my parents and get away from the New Hampshire winter weather. After picking up our rental car, we were driving down a busy street toward my parents’ condo. Because we’d never been there before and didn’t have GPS, I

was concerned about finding the place. But, right at the turn on to his street, my Dad was standing on the corner waving at us. I don’t know how he recognized us as we drove toward him in a rental car. I imagine he just waved at every car that drove by. I parked, then got out of the car to greet him, and just as our fingers touched to shake hands, a car hit him, carrying him 60 yards before tossing him to the street. No words can describe how crushing that was for my family, my mom, and me. Afterward, we had to go through the civil and criminal justice systems. I watched as the people involved — good people — interacted with my deaf mom and the rest of my family. It was shocking! It was like we, our family and our tragedy, were just something they had to get over and done with so that they could move on to the next family and their tragedy. It felt like they didn’t understand how we were affected by the whole situation, like they couldn’t understand that it devastated my whole family. It was real and heartbreaking, but no one seemed to care. They just got busy telling me the dollar value of my dad’s life. At that point, we didn’t care about dollars. We cared about justice, about making things right. The treatment we received from people I believed to be good people got me thinking it probably wasn’t uncommon. I thought about what other people might be going through and how they might be treated the same way. I thought about other families and other tragedies. That didn’t sit well with me. So, I decided to give up my career and go to law school to help people and families going through the same things we went through. All the while, I told myself I wasn’t going to treat my clients the way I was treated. No matter what, at least, I would understand how my clients really felt, what they wanted and what they needed. I’d been there. I want to be there for my clients. A trial is probably one of the most emotional moments of a client’s life, and they shouldn’t be treated like a number. They should be treated like real people who are having a unique, tragic moment in their lives.

Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau P.A. strives to treat clients like real people, with kindness and understanding. If you’ve ever been through a tragedy and hired a lawyer, you know that normal human kindness is kinda hard to find. Our clients have gone through enough and should be treated like human beings. We’ll be sure to step into your shoes, red or otherwise, and guide you through any trial in your life.

Kirk Simoneau

Guiding You Through Life’s Trials


603.669. 7070


Do your kids get enough nutrients in their diet? If they’re like most kids, the answer is probably no. You want your children to eat more vegetables and less processed junk, but that’s easier said than done. Getting the average kid to chow down on a serving of broccoli is a chore. Food manufacturers have built an entire industry around our kids’ penchant for sugary cereal and fast food. However, a diet of processed foods can lead to a host of problems, including hindered brain development and even behavioral issues. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found links between poor diet and the development of depression in kids and teens. So, how can you encourage your kids to eat healthier foods? One way is through presentation. A mound of plain old veggies is unappealing, whether you’re 10 years old or 40. The solution is to think of vegetables as an ingredient rather than as a stand-alone dish. Take lasagna, for instance. You can easily modify this beloved Italian dish. Instead of using lasagna noodles, slice zucchini into thin, noodle-like strips and layer them as you would typical pasta. The same can be done for other pasta dishes. Zucchini noodles Nothing’s worse than having an accident when you’re out trying to have a good time with your friends. This happened to one of our most recent clients. She was out at a “biker bar” having a good time and drinking with her friends when she ended up breaking her leg. As she was leaving, her heel got caught between two pieces of slate due to some missing grout. She fell and broke her leg. We tried the case because it was a $2,500 offer, take it or leave it — no negotiation, nothing. The offer wasn’t as crazy as it sounds. My client admitted that she had been drinking and was also aware that the grout had been missing for a while. Even so, her medical bills were about $40,000, and this offer was going to end up costing my client money. She had missed weeks of work, owed money for her medical treatment, and hadn’t caught up on her bills.

made with a spiralizer — also known as “zoodles” — make a mean substitute for spaghetti. Pair them with your favorite marinara sauce or toss them in a slightly less decadent, but still delicious, Alfredo. Vegetables can also be incorporated into other foods your children already know and love. Did you know you can make brownies with avocado and black beans? Slipping in a few healthier ingredients here and there can deliver the nutrients your kids need to power through a busy school week. If you want to foster long-lasting healthy eating habits, the best thing you can do is offer your child some agency. For example, saying to your child, “You can have the cauliflower or the broccoli. It’s up to you!” empowers them to make their own decision based on their preferences. Psychologists and social scientists, including the famed Dr. Maria Montessori, argue that when kids feel in charge of a decision, they are more likely to embrace the ability to choose, even if it’s between two kinds of vegetables. Ultimately, as a parent, you are in control of your child’s diet. Help them explore new foods and foster a positive culinary environment. Your kids will develop a taste for healthy eating in no time! understood the whole fix. They connected to my client and saw that she was really a wonderful human being. She was open and truthful about what had happened that night. She explained that when she fell, she didn’t scream or start to cry. Instead, she cursed — loudly! That really spoke to them. It was a pretty realistic reaction. The defense lawyer we were going against is the most experienced and, arguably, the most successful civil defense lawyer in New Hampshire. In the past 10 years, he’s tried more than 200 cases, and there’s only one verdict over $100,000 recorded against him — mine. Instead of taking the $2,500 offer, we left it; and at the end of the case, the verdict for my client was $400,000. Remember, make the jury laugh and make them cry, and they will go with you anywhere, as long as you’re honest.

THE $400K BROKEN LEG A Pleasant Woman, a Pleasant Jury, and a Pleasant Verdict

The jury was awesome. Not only did they appreciate our honesty about the whole situation, but they really

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Don’t Text and Walk

Some months back, we received a call about a woman who was suing a shopping mall. It wasn’t as exciting as you might expect. One day, the woman had been walking through the mall while texting, not looking where she was going. She tripped and fell into a water fountain. Soaking wet and embarrassed, she made a statement about how stupid it is to walk (or drive!) while texting. Turns out the shopping mall’s cameras were able to capture the event. The mall released the video of her little tumble, and the foolishness not only had millions of hits on YouTube, but also received a lot of airtime on “Good Morning

America” and other shows. The lady was outraged, so she sued the mall.

Maybe it was a bad idea to post the video on YouTube, but the lady was texting while walking, not paying attention, and fell into a clearly visible water fountain. I only hope that if this happens again, she’ll think twice before pointing her finger at someone else. And hopefully she’ll keep her hands off her phone while she walks! If you happen to have a lawsuit that’s not completely bonkers, the office of Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky & Simoneau is here to help.

No respectable New Hampshire law firm, especially this one, would give this case the time of day. Not only do such lawsuits demean the law, but they also have a chance to harm well- intentioned folks searching for fair and proper justice. When the courts are overloaded and backlogged, and all the respectable people in the court are hard at work keeping the wheels of justice turning, it’s almost impossible to get in front of a judge when you have a praiseworthy case, let alone a case like this one.

Be Inspired and

Have A Laugh


603.669. 7070

Guiding You Through Life’s Trials

77 Central Street Manchester, NH 03101 603.669.7070


INSIDE This Issue

Stepping Into My Clients’ Shoes


Trick Your Kids Into Healthy Eating The Heel That Led to a $400K Verdict

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A Wet and Wild Case

What Music Does Your Dog Love?

Researchers also measured the dogs’ heart rates during each tune. When dogs listened to reggae and soft rock, their heart rates were significantly lower, which indicates a reduction in stress. And, even though the dogs specifically enjoyed different music genres, their physiological and behavioral changes remained constant over the five-day study.

DON’T STOP RETRIEVIN’ Your Dog’s Favorite Music

Looking for new ways to spend time with your dog? Is fetch just a little too overdone? Is your furry friend’s anxiety getting the better of them? Try putting on some Bob Marley. Studies have shown that classical music calms canine nerves, but did you know Rover may actually have his own taste in music? Recently, a study from the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow, published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, concluded that dogs may have their own music preferences. And while pups tend to enjoy many genres, the most popular seem to be soft rock and reggae. The study, which evaluated kenneled dogs’ preferences for soft rock, Motown, pop, reggae, and classical music, revealed that dogs spend significantly more time lying down and less time standing when any music plays. And while music didn’t seem to persuade the dogs to quit barking, the pups were significantly more likely to bark once the music stopped.

Professor Neil Evans at the University of Glasgow suggested that this study may not represent the musical tastes of all dogs. “Overall,” he writes, “the response to different genres was mixed, highlighting the possibility that, like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences.”

In 2015, the University of Glasgow conducted a separate study that examined the effects classical music has on our canine friends. They originally found that, while the music was calming at first, after a week of listening to classical music, the dogs seemed to become disinterested in the tunes and their stress levels eventually increased. So, based on these newer findings, it seems as though a variety of music can keep your dog both interested and relaxed while they are kenneled. So, the next time it’s too rainy to go to the dog park, put on a doggie-friendly playlist for them to enjoy. Who knows? Maybe your dog has the same taste in music as you!

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