Hegwood Law - January 2019

PUTTING THE ‘PAIN’ IN CHAMPAGNE Spontaneously Ejecting Cork Causes Lawsuit

For many people, preparing for the New Year’s countdown is the most exhilarating part of the holiday season. You tune your TV to the Times Square ball drop, hand out party hats, confetti, and noisemakers, and meticulously line up some champagne flutes. What’s left to do? Pop open the champagne! There are many partiers who pop the cork with enthusiastic and careless abandon, while others point the bottle away from their faces and anxiously twist the cork until they hear those bubbles surge to the surface. Turns out, while the latter practice may be slightly less fun, it’s certainly the safer approach. On April 8, 1978, Charles J. Murray was injured when a natural cork stopper spontaneously ejected from a bottle of previously unopened Almaden Blanc de Blancs champagne and struck him in the left eye. He was preparing to serve the bubbly to a party of 40 people, so he placed 12 bottles on a rolling cart and removed the foil and wire retainer from three or four bottles — including the one that eventually injured him. Once he started to roll the cart toward the guests, the cork shot out of the bottle all on its own. Due to the severity of his injury, Murray sued Almaden Vineyards, Inc., National Distillers and Chemical Corporation, and Carbo, Inc., alleging that they were responsible because they failed to include a proper

warning label on the bottle. The defendants, however, argued that the cork stopper did not and could not spontaneously eject unless Murray had handled the bottle improperly. The case was argued by both sides for two years, but eventually, Murray won. Almaden Vineyards now prints the following on its bottles: “WARNING: THIS BOTTLE IS UNDER PRESSURE. THE STOPPER WILL EJECT SOON AFTER THE WIRE HOOD REMOVAL. TO PROTECT AGAINST INJURY TO FACE AND EYES, POINT AWAY FROM SELF AND OTHERS WHEN OPENING.”

When it comes to bubbly-induced mayhem, the greatest potential trouble lies in the eye of the beholder — literally. With an estimated velocity of 60 miles per hour, uncontrolled corks do in fact fly faster than the blink of an eye. To avoid having to explain a not-so-fashionable eye patch at work on Monday, handle those fizzy drinks with care.

HOW TO PROPERLY PLAN FOR 2019!

Protect Your Assets and Take Care of Your Loved Ones

Everyone knows that the new year is a good time to set new goals. Whether these goals are small, like only eating ice cream once a week, or big, like making plans to travel more often, January is the optimal time to take stock of the previous year and evaluate ways in which you want to make the most of your time and better your life overall. Choosing to be proactive in your estate planning is one goal that a great number of people avoid, but one that is absolutely vital. Our team understands that this type of planning can be uncomfortable, since it necessitates facing your own mortality. But working with an attorney to ensure that you have the correct documents in place is the only way you can guarantee that your assets will be protected and your loved ones will be taken care of.

• A will to designate your beneficiaries, name your executor, and select a guardian for your children if you and your spouse both pass away or are incapacitated

• A durable power of attorney for finances to designate someone to take over your financial matters if you die or become incapacitated

• A living will (advance directive) to spell out your end-of-life wishes

• A medical power of attorney to name someone who will ensure that your health care wishes are honored

We understand that all the legal terminology included in these documents can be overwhelming. For this reason, our team takes the time to know each and every client’s personal situation. As you describe your future wants and needs to us, we pay careful attention so that we can word each document precisely as you wish and help you make wise (and legal) decisions about your legacy. If you or someone you know wants help with their goal setting in 2019, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call!

One way to be proactive and take control of your future in 2019 is to prepare the following documents:

2 HEGWOOD LAW GROUP

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