Category Archives: History

All This Tragedy Should Be A Catalyst For Change

Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

This has been a tragic week in our country. Monday’s Boston Marathon attack was followed by Wednesday’s massive blast at the West Fertilizer Company in Texas. As I write, the final death toll from the West Fertilizer Co. fire has yet to be determined. It is currently unknown what caused the blast and it is unknown whether the casualties included employees, first responders or citizens. However as we look at this tragedy we should be reminded that this spring marks the 102nd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. That terrible event which took place on March 26, 1911 was followed by a swift and aggressive response by workers and labor activists. Their response led to the establishment of many of the protective organizations American workers now rely on, including the workers’ compensation system, the American Society of Safety Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

As with the Triangle fire, this should be a time for action as well as reflection. April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day, a great opportunity to talk about how to establish better workplace safety so that no tragedies like the Triangle factory or West Fertilizer explosion – if caused by unsafe work conditions – occur again. Whatever the cause, let this tragic week be a wake up call to us to prevent more people from dying needlessly in the future,

Injured Worker Advocates – To End Like the American Indian?

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gynne

In the New York Times bestseller, Empire of the Summer Moon, author S.C. Gynne writes in great detail about the last days of the Comanche Indians, who roamed the great plains from Mexico to North Dakota and who were the last holdouts against the white man’s overwhelming non-stop push for Indian land. The final death blow was the destruction of thirty-three million buffalo between 1868 and 1881. General Phil Sheridan said buffalo hunters in the last few years did “more to settle the vexed Indian question than the entire regular army had done in the last thirty years.” Gynne explained that killing the buffalo was more than an accident of commerce. “It was a deliberate political act.”

What to do? Educate the public. Build coalitions. Utilize social media to explain what can happen if, God forbid, a nice person (like someone reading this blog) should be seriously injured at work and need workers’ compensation benefits to keep afloat and pay medical bills.

As legislatures all over the country constantly erode the rights and benefits of injured workers, the all consuming nature of the quest reminds me of the push for more land and the destruction of those Indians who stood in the way. Advocates for injured people also stand
in the way and at every turn attempts are made to steamroll them. Texas is a prime example. It is hard to find a workers’ compensation lawyer in that state who has been practicing for twenty years or more. That institutional knowledge has been blown away like tumbleweed in a storm. As Shakespeare so famously stated on behalf of a dictator who was about to seize power, “The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.” Removing access to lawyers is a simple but effective formula for insurance companies and big employers who want to Continue reading

Professionalism: A Choice Between The Art of War and Aikido Principles

Morihei Ueshiba, the Japanese founder of the martial art of Aikido.

Lawyers are often engaged to resolve conflicts. Sometimes the conflicts are resolved peacefully and harmoniously in a win/win environment and other times the resolution comes out acrimoniously and bitterly in a win/lose scenario. The former outcome is always preferred, yet many of us unwittingly choose a method of professional behavior that drives us toward a hostile, embittered and emotionally draining environment that we didn’t want.

How can this happen?

For insight, let’s look at an ancient Chinese military philosopher, Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War during the fourth century, B.C., and then compare it to the relatively recent principles expounded by Morihei Ueshiba, the Japanese founder of the martial art of Aikido. The Art of War was brought to the attention of the western world when it was translated into French and published in Paris in 1772. Napoleon is believed to have read and studied it. In more recent times, trial litigators and corporate executives have quoted from it in order to justify their tactics. Sun Tzu recognized that war was a matter of vital importance to the state and that it was mandatory that it be studied and mastered. (Machiavelli, when he wrote The Prince in 1513 A.D., had a similar vision about the importance of obtaining and holding power).

Sun Tzu was ruthless. He once had two of the King’s concubines beheaded after they repeatedly failed to follow his explicit instructions. Afterwards, all the other concubines followed orders as told. Sun Tzu was clever. He believed that all warfare is based on deception. He advocated angering the opposing general in order to confuse him, and sought to keep him under strain so he would wear down. Sun Tzu was aggressive. When his forces were abundant he urged attack. He encouraged agitation of the enemy and counseled striking where the enemy was most vulnerable.

Many lawyers follow these tactics in an attempt to gain strategic advantage over opposing counsel. Their goal is to win “the war” for their client and they will use any tactic allowed by the Local Rules or the Rules of Civil Procedure, etc., and can adamantly defend their actions by saying nothing they have done violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. Although Continue reading