Joel Thrift Law LLC - July 2020

The Disability DIGEST 404-618-4816

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 | 1

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violated copyright law. She cited 18 “similarities” to bolster her massive claim. For instance, Tanikumi claimed that both her book and the movie had stories of intense sisterly love, scenes under the moon, and talk about cold hearts. The tenuousness of the similarities alone would cause most people to dismiss Tanikumi’s claim like they would the ramblings of a red yarn- loving conspiracy theorist. And that’s just what the judge who oversaw the case did, granting Disney’s motion to dismiss. The judge stated that copyright law protects expressions but not ideas. The themes that Tanikumi believed Disney had stolen from her story were under public domain, usable by anyone without permission. Only Tanikumi herself knows for sure why she went through all that trouble. Everyone else will just have to speculate what gave her the gall to take on a media juggernaut like Disney in court with next to no viable case. That said, several reviews of her memoir on Amazon mention ties to “Frozen,” so make of that what you will.

This is the story of a woman who just couldn’t let it go. It was the fall of 2014 — Dennis Rodman became friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie with Oscar winners at the Academy Awards became the most retweeted image of all time. And an author sued Disney for $250 million after she claimed that the company stole major elements of her published memoir to craft the movie “Frozen.” “Frozen”was released in November 2013 and saw massive box office success and critical acclaim. It seemed like Walt Disney Animation Studios was finally hitting their stride and catching up to Pixar movies’ quality animation and storytelling. Unfortunately, high-profile movie projects and financiers with deep pockets tend to attract all sorts of hullabaloo in the form of frivolous lawsuits. Author Isabella Tanikumi, whose only notable work to date is her 2011 memoir “Yearnings of the Heart,” sued Disney for an egregious $250 million after claiming that the winter wonderland adventures of Anna, Elsa, and Olaf were stolen straight from her memoir and her life and


legitimate. Scammers use links to spread malware on computers, which helps them get your personal information.

While it seems like the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic might be behind us, that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down completely — especially when it comes to internet scams designed to prey on the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. It’s no surprise that scammers have found ways to use the coronavirus scare as an opportunity to steal personal information from the vulnerable. Fortunately, you can spot coronavirus scammers using the same techniques that help identify otherwise run-of-the-mill phishing scams. REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION When the federal government started distributing relief checks, several scammers sent out unsolicited emails, disguised as legitimate instructions, asking for personal information from people in order to receive their $1,200. Since many people have now received their checks, this particular scam may become less common, but always be suspicious of emails that ask for personal information, no matter the circumstances. SUSPICIOUS LINKS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES During the past few months, people’s email inboxes have been littered with advertisements for fake coronavirus tests and cures, fake alerts from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fake coronavirus updates. If you get an email containing an unusual link in your inbox, do not click on it — even if the email address looks

SPELLING AND GRAMMAR MISTAKES This is usually a dead giveaway. While genuine, official updates about the coronavirus will be meticulously checked for spelling and grammar,

scammers aren’t as careful. Missing periods, misspelled words, and wacky syntax errors are all hallmarks of scam emails. Make sure you carefully read any email you’re not sure about.

If you can spot spelling and grammar mistakes, delete the email. Much like the coronavirus will remain in the American psyche long after cases and deaths have peaked, scammers will

continue using it as a means to steal from honest, hardworking Americans. But, if we keep our guard up, we can make sure they get absolutely nothing from their efforts.

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The Wacky Evolution of the Knock-Knock Joke

Knock knock! Who’s there? Theresa. Theresa who? Theresa crowd!

Unless you’re living under a rock, odds are you’ve laughed, grumbled, or groaned in response to a knock-knock joke. You may have even told a few yourself before you realized knock-knock jokes had gone out of style in favor of sarcasm and memes. That’s because at their core, knock-knock jokes are a quintessential American experience — and the perfect homegrown fodder for International Joke Day, which falls on July 1. But where did they come from, and why do so many people knock the knock-knock joke today? Well, according to NPR, knock-knock jokes have had a roller coaster of a history. Near as we can tell, they actually evolved from another kind of joke: the “Do You Know” joke. This style of joke was popular in the early 1900s, and according to an Oakland Tribune article NPR dug up, this was a typical one:


Inspired by

Do you know Arthur?

Contrary to popular belief, vegetables are delicious. Most of our parents just didn’t know how to prepare them well. This summer, revolutionize your cookout with a serving of delicious, colorful veggies.

Arthur who?



Not very funny, is it? Well, over the years this style of back-and- forth jesting evolved into knock-knock jokes. The popularity of the “knock knock” bit of the joke could harken back to Shakespeare, who BestLife credits with “the first-known occurrence of a knock knock, who’s-there dialogue” in Act 2 of “Macbeth” (though it likely wasn’t intended to be funny), or it could be a reference to 1936 vice presidential hopeful Frank Knox, whose name made “knock knock” irresistible wordplay for the radio. Whatever the reason, knock knocks were all the rage in the 1930s, to the extent that people formed knock-knock clubs, businesses held knock-knock contests, and orchestras set them to music. However, the heyday was short-lived. In the following years, people started getting sick of knock knocks, and even psychologists turned against them. According to NPR, “people who loved knock- knock jokes were said to have social problems.” Today, knock-knock jokes are still around, but they’re mostly considered a game for kids or demoted to the realm of “bad dad jokes.”Maybe you think that’s warranted, maybe you think it’s tragic — either way, odds are the format will continue to evolve and probably outlive us all!

onion, red bell peppers, baby carrots, and yellow squash are great on the grill)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

5 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 lbs assorted vegetables, trimmed and halved (asparagus, mushrooms, red

1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped


1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. 2. Brush vegetables with olive oil and place in a large bowl. Top with lemon juice and seasoning mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. 3. Prepare the grill at medium-high heat. 4. Grill vegetables in batches, cooking 3–5 minutes on each side until browned and tender. (Carrots will cook longer, 6–9 minutes per side.) 5. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot. | 3

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The Importance of Sharing a Laugh

The Case That Was Frozen on Arrival How to Spot a Coronavirus Scam Email


The Secret to Delicious Grilled Veggies The Wacky Evolution of the Knock-Knock Joke



What Does the Constitution Mean to You?

WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION MEAN TO YOU? Debating the Document That’s Shaped Our Country

15-year-old Heidi (played by Schreck in the original production) as she gives her speech and talks about the Constitution. At other times,

Most teenagers are more interested in hanging out with their friends and listening to the next cool band than diving into the United States Constitution. But that’s exactly how some students have been spending their mornings, afternoons, and evenings: studying and preparing to debate their peers all over the nation about the contents of the 200-year-old document. Their motivation? Prestige, honor, and thousands of dollars of scholarship money. Sponsored by the American Legion, these constitutional debates were started in 1938 with the intent to “develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students,” according to the Legion’s website. In the process of writing the speeches they’ll debate, students under 20 learn the history of U.S. laws and develop a better understanding of the rights and privileges of American citizenship. The legion offers up over $188,000 annually in scholarship money to debate winners. For one of those winners, in addition to helping pay her way through college, the debate experience also provided fodder for a Broadway play. In “What the Constitution Means to Me,” playwright and actor Heidi Schreck recounts her experience of debating the Constitution in American Legion halls all over the U.S. In the largely autobiographical play, theatergoers get to see the experience through the eyes of

viewers see the grown-up Schreck reflect on the evolution of the Constitution’s meaning over the years and how her debate experiences shaped her understanding of what it means to live under the rules of this governing document.

For Heidi Schreck, as well as for hundreds of other debaters, developing a

close relationship with the Constitution helped pay her way through college and gave her a better understanding of the principles our country was built on. This month is a great time to take a look at the document that shaped our country’s past

and continues to shape its future.

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