Joel Thrift Law LLC - July 2020

The Disability DIGEST

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July 2020

The Importance of Sharing a Laugh Joel Reflects on Humor in His Life and Career

Humor is one of the most important things we carry in life, and nobody understood that better than my father-in-law, who recently passed away from COVID-19. You may not expect him to have had such a great sense of humor. When my wife was just a baby, he suffered from medical malpractice and experienced multiple strokes that put him in a nursing home for the rest of his life. He was always the youngest guy at the home being treated. Yet in a very literal sense, he carried his humor with him all the time — he was always holding a worn joke book. It was falling apart from how many times he’d told super goofy jokes from it, and he’d make the nurses and staff laugh all the time. My dad had a similar attitude toward humor, and throughout life, I’ve learned the same lesson again and again: No matter what you’re going through, humor can make it a little bit easier. I experience that a lot in my own career. My clients may already know that I’mmore upbeat than dreadfully serious when I’mwith them, but when I’m dealing with adjusters and other attorneys, I can also be a bit more upbeat, too. That might surprise clients; after all, adjusters represent the opposing side to our case, and they are the ones we are fighting against. But here’s the truth: It’s very inefficient to fight for a case while being personally abrasive to the opposing side. You often get much, much better outcomes when you share a more lighthearted professional relationship, even (or especially) if you take the business at hand very seriously. So I’m happy to crack jokes with other attorneys. It nearly always benefits my clients’ cases. Of course, I’m never going to let an adjuster or attorney do something they shouldn’t do, but they’re usually happy to work with me and are

considered Hulk Hogan’s sex tape newsworthy, and, therefore, Gawker was not responsible for the effects of the video. However, during the deposition, Daulerio joked about an exception to this claim: He would only consider it non-newsworthy if the subject was under the age of 4. The jury wasn’t very impressed, ultimately awarding Hulk Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages, including $60 million for emotional distress and an additional $25 million in punitive damages. A bad sense of humor can cost you, but luckily, it’s completely avoidable. As long as our sense of humor makes people genuinely happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, a good laugh is one of the healthiest things we can do — especially right now as the nation begins recovering from the pandemic. Get a bit of sunshine and find a good joke to celebrate International Joke Day on July 1.

more open to negotiations than if I were yelling at them. I have a great example from a case I worked on, and it’s not even from an exchange I participated in. Once, I had a mediation where the client was a singer. She was very upset that she had a neck surgery that also prevented her from singing. Luckily for us, the client began to connect with the adjuster because the adjuster had been a jazz singer in a past career. I’m 100% certain that their interaction is partially why we got such a good resolution to that case — humor and kindness make it easier to establish rapport and empathy. Of course, a huge part of humor is timing. You don’t want to joke about something that doesn’t fit the moment, and if you try too hard, it’ll fall flat. For example, you never want to be funny during a deposition. In Bollea v. Gawker, Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media for posting a sex tape of himself and Heather Clem. The claims included invasion of privacy, infringement of personality rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Until next time, friends,

–Joel Thrift

In response, former Gawker Media editor A.J. Daulerio made the argument that he

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