Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Legal Leeches Are Costing Us All And Trashing The Legal Profession

davilWhile watching TV or listening to the radio we’ve all seen and heard the torrent of ads promising us money for alleged damages for everything from medical implants and car accidents to asbestos and falls while shopping.

Many of these ads lure clients in and end up draining innocent victims dry with false claims. And even for the claims that are true, the victims rarely benefit, just the legal leeches whose shameless greed exploit ordinary people and harm the rest of us financially.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a percentage of our economy, U.S. legal liability costs are double those of the UK, three times higher than those in France and five times higher than those in Japan. The chamber says the nation’s litigation addiction hurts families, businesses, communities, and America’s ability to compete for jobs and investment in a global economy.

Not all lawyers are evil, greedy jackals. Some are actually honest, good people who do decent work. And they should be the ones most angry about those who have trashed their profession. Thanks to the lawsuit culture in our “United States of Litigation” that the predatory legal leeches created, nothing is our fault anymore and they claim somebody has to pay. There is no case too absurd and that’s why we end up with moronic warnings on irons, saying “Do not iron clothes on body” and other loony labels.

A recent example of how these predatory legal leeches hurt all of us economically was brought home personally by a small story in the Wednesday business section of the Florida Times-Union headlined “Drinks in Southwest Settlement Upheld.” Since I recently purchased two tickets on Southwest I read the article with particular interest and am convinced that if it wasn’t for these legal looters our ticket prices would have been lower.

In a nutshell the story told how a federal appeals court upheld a settlement in which Southwest passengers got free drink vouchers while the lawyers suing the airline got $1.65 million. The lawyers were originally awarded $3 million but a lower court lowered it to $1.65 million. So lawyers convinced the passengers to sue the airline so they can use their free drink coupon on any flight anytime while the lawyers suing collected enough to buy their own plane. As for Southwest passengers, the cost of all that is passed on, thus increasing our airline fares.

So despite the fact that the price of oil is the lowest it’s been since early 2009 airline fares are going up, not down. And for that you can thank a lawyer.

A closer to home example is the almost $2 million in legal fees the city of Fernandina Beach paid in legal fees due to incompetent legal advice it received from its fulltime legal counsel for the impact fee lawsuit it lost. I’ve read the transcript of the closed door settlement meetings of this fiasco and it’s pathetic.

The incompetence of the Obama Administration and its ill-conceived Affordable Care Act’s medical care cost increases are compounded by lawyers. The Manhattan Institute pointed out that dozens of states are experiencing medical emergencies because doctors and hospitals can no longer afford medical malpractice insurance. These legal leeches have made the legal industry hazardous to our health.

But maybe the American people are waking up. This 114th Congress has slightly fewer lawyers in it than the last one but still too many. Of House members, 37 percent — 160 people — are lawyers. So are 53 percent of senators. In the last Congress, 39 percent of the House members were lawyers, along with 57 percent of U.S. senators. The President, his vice president and even the First Lady have law degrees. So we are ruled by lawyers. Is it any wonder we’re getting hosed by them.

But there is hope on the horizon. Three of the top five polling candidates for the Republican nomination for President have two things in common: They have never held elected office and they aren’t lawyers — Businessman Donald Trump; Physician Dr. Ben Carson and Businesswoman Carly Fiorina.


Go Away, We’re Full: In a recent more complete waste of space than usual in Amelia Island’s bi-weekly News-Leader newspaper Ron Sapp ranted on about how too many folks are crowding onto the island and how he prefers it remain the way it was when he was a kid her long ago. In his “Get off my lawn you little bastards” approach, Sapp, a former City Commissioner, once actually tried to set a limit on the number of residents that could live on the island. One good thing about this far left retired school teacher is that he is no longer contaminating a classroom at Fernandina Beach High School trying to fill pliable young minds full of his loony lefty thoughts by teaching them what to think instead of how to think. Now he satisfies himself preaching to a small choir of News-Leader readers while vainly trying to slap a “No Vacancy” sign on the west side of Shave Bridge. Fortunately, very few pay him much attention.


Speaking Of Desperate & Frustrated Folks: Some 100 Nassau County Democrats attended an event here about two weeks ago to listen to people who will never be elected to national or state wide office, but in the true tradition of Democrats they did scarf down the advertised low country boil offered them. Without the cheap chow how many of these “what’s in it for me” folks would have showed up? Obviously I’m not a Democrat, but the one person I actually would have paid to go hear didn’t show or even respond to his invitation, and that’s Florida’s outrageously loopy 8th Congressional District Congressman, Alan Grayson, who has announced for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat. Almost anything Grayson says is controversial and offensive, and makes me wonder about the mindset of folks living in the 8th District. But it would be entertaining to see this buffoon in person. Maybe he could team up with his nutty 4th District colleague Corrine Brown and take that whacky show on the road. Oh, while going back for seconds and filling up their doggie bags, the Dems were told that their Nassau County party is concentrating on growing its numbers hereabouts by — Are you ready? — recruiting ex-felons. In fact they’ve asked one of the most despicable and dangerous organizations in America to help them — the ACLU. In true Democratic Party fashion I’m sure they are also actively on the trail of illegal alien supporters and have recruiting teams scouring the Bosque Bello Cemetery for votes.


“I Think I May Never See A Poem” Department: A local reader wrote me the following saying: “Many locals say they are upset that a property developer cut down trees ON HIS OWN PROPERTY. How dare he! Don’t these trees belong to us all? I am certain that no trees were cut down to build the house where Commissioner Johnny Miller lives. Why must we endure this? Oh, wait. We don’t own the property. If citizens of Fernandina Beach were really interested in preserving local resources, we would raise taxes and buy the property ourselves for the city and protect it in perpetuity. This is what legitimate organizations like the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund do. They buy the land (with money from contributions) and protect it. I have no problem with this approach. I’m not a big fan of asking someone else to own the property and let everyone else manage it for them. This is why we have national and state parks and national forests and wilderness areas and protected scenic areas. It costs money to do this and I don’t see anyone here who is serious enough about protecting trees to actually suggest that we pay to do exactly that.” The writer makes sense to me but loud leftists normally want to take other people’s property and make them do with it what they want them to do.


Over-The-Top Media Coverage: The Jacksonville Jaguars have won a total of just seven regular season games the past two years, but readers of the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union must think they are reigning Super Bowl champions. Either the sports writers are paid by the word or team owner Shad Kahn owns the paper. I can think of no other reasons for the paper’s massive team coverage. The paper has profiled every player, coach and executive on the team, analyzed this coming year’s prospects from every possible angle, and written opinion pieces on all of it. The reporters write about the scoreboards, swimming pool, tell you how much tickets cost, where to get them, the best way to get to the stadium, where to park, what can be purchased other than tickets, and more insomnia-curing puffery than I ever thought possible. All that’s left to write about are the hot dog vendors and ticket takers, but that may already have been done and I just missed it. And these inane stories often spill over into the other sections of the paper as well. Even when one of its players screws up and gets arrested, the paper quickly sweeps that distraction off with a “well that won’t hurt the team as there are more just like him available as free agents” commentary. This newspaper costs an outrageous two bucks an issue Monday – Saturday, an even more outrageous three bucks for the Sunday edition or more than $400 for an annual subscription and it reads like the Jacksonville Jaguars team newsletter. If Kahn doesn’t own the paper then I suggest the Jaguars publicity person be immediately ushered into the PR Hall of Fame, if such a thing exists, because this guy is really good. Other for-profit Jacksonville businesses can only dream of realizing such outrageously positive coverage or hiring a PR guy with as much talent as the Jaguars’ pro. I wrote a version of this in a letter to the Times-Union editor that the paper published in part last Friday. It sparked a follow-up in a Sunday, Viewpoint by Editorial Page Editor Mike Clark headlined “You can’t over cover the Jaguars.” He said in his piece that because the Jaguars are the only major sports team in town they “will demand and deserve huge coverage.” Using that as a gauge CSX is a Fortune 500 company along with Fidelity National Financial, making them both a major presence in the city. Can they too demand and deserve huge coverage? I’ve said it before, but I still believe that if the Second Coming was scheduled for a November Sunday, the Times-Union wouldn’t cover it unless it was part of the hapless Jaguars’ halftime program. I like football but this is way more than I want and I certainly deserve better for my $413 annually.


Obamacare Simply Explained: A reader sent me the following explanation summarizing the 10,535 pages of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, in four simple sentences:

  1. In order to insure the uninsured, we have first to un-insure the insured.
  2. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured.
  3. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.
  4. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, so it will be free-of-charge to them.

The above four simple sentences also define “redistribution of wealth” or socialism. Who can say otherwise?


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Friend, fisherman, boat dweller, and all-around good guy Charlie Freeman alerted me earlier this week to one of the island’s best bargains: Wings for 55 cents each (minimum of eight) Monday from 5 p.m. till closing at Beef O’Brady’s in the Publix Shopping Center, the corner of Sadler and South 14th Street. However, the best part of this deal may be the fact that you can wash them down with $1 domestic beers till 6 p.m. and then start quaffing $1.99 pints of domestic till 7 p.m. Oh, the beer prices, are good every day and probably the cheapest beer in town unless someone can prove me wrong. Call ’em at 904/261-0555. A Taste of Wine By Steve will be Saturday evening 5-7 the First Coast Highway location instead of this evening. Bright Morning and Steve are also planning an Italian themed dinner with plenty of wines for Wednesday, September 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the South 3rd Street downtown Bright Morning location. Call Steve at 904/ 557-1506. If you’re looking for a tasting event this evening try the Amelia Island Liquors next to Publix, where you can sample selected wines, beers or liquors or all three along with a variety of snacks from 5-7 p.m. The newly redecorated South Fletcher Avenue Surf has live music Monday-Saturday from 6-10 p.m. and Sunday 5- 9 p.m. with happy hour every day from 11a.m.-7 p.m. with 50% off house wines, well drinks, and domestic drafts. Call ’em at 904/261-5711. The Main Beach Putt Putt still has the island’s best hamburger as good friends Joe Murphy, Cal Atwood and I just completed a taste test there Thursday afternoon and agreed unanimously that its Beach Bum Burger still reigns supreme. If you want to enjoy yourself on a Thursday evening head downtown to the Alley Cat on Centre Street to hear John Springer at the piano starting at 6:30 and going to 9:30 and then again tomorrow with John and a low country boil starting at 4:30 until it’s gone for just $22. Call ’em at 904/310-9743.

NOTE: There will not be another Dave’s World Blog until Friday, September 18.

  • Comment (9)
  • Dave, sorry my friend, you owe Ron Sapp a public apology. I don’t care if you like him or hate him. I don’t care if you agree with his writings or are opposed to them. I don’t care if you like or dislike is thinking, his politics or what color his socks he wears. The thing you are wrong about, totally wrong about, is the impact he has had on the youth of Fernandina. I coached Baseball for 14 years at Fernandina. In those 14 years I came to know many students, knew many teachers and many parents. In 14 years living on a pretty much Republican Island I never once heard a bad word about his teaching ability. Each time I met a student or ball player and his name came up, there was nothing but praise for him. After being around students everyday for 14 years I heard many bad and cruel comments about their various teachers, I am sure most were unjustified as students are the ones at fault. Never once did I hear anything but praise for Ron. He was a thought provoking educator, who pushed his students to think, debate, and ague issues and not just follow the crowd. Sorry my friend, you blew this big time and should own up to this fact and make it right.

  • Very nice remarks about Mr. Sapp but, how is the student receiving new information through a classroom learning experience capable of assessing the pros and cons/validity of the context if this is his first exposure. Mr. Sapps delivery may be well received but the content could be skewed. I like cool aid because it tastes so good.

  • Having taught two classrooms up from Ron Sapp’s classes in Government for 6 years at FBHS , I might suggest that perhaps you, Dave, go back to high school and actually spend some time actually learning about the government you find so offensive, and discover a bit about the students he taught, including their present careers in medicine, education, engineering, law, the military, and science. Ron was to the far right of old left handed me – just for information – and this community is greatly in his debt. But then solutions to real issues and problems are not your game.

    As to conservation issues, I might suggest that your love of “property” only goes as far as the consequences of owning it do not impact others – in which case the lawyer issue becomes relevant. Florida is not Texas – or at least wasn’t until Rick Scott, operating on behalf of Texas, stole the state’s government.

    Also, as an aside, the Washington Times (aka the Moonie paper in D.C.) has an opening . Just a thought.

  • Dave wrote ” by teaching them what to think instead of how to think. ” Hes spot on. I will add many people read but don’t comprehend.

  • David:
    As a stockholder, airline passenger and a builder I have been the “beneficiary” of many class action suits. The results have always, in my opinion as an attorney, been a disgrace to the profession. Lawyers earned millions and I received coupons.
    I was active in the impact fee class action suit against the City. Local attorney Clinch Kavanaugh partnered with the superb Jacksonville firm of Tanner Bishop to represent our citizen plaintiffs. They litigated against the City and their three law firms before multiple courts for over three years. Tanner Bishop engaged consultants at their own expense while you and your fellow citizens paid the million dollar cost of the City’s senseless defense. The City and their legion of attorneys never laid a glove on the plaintiffs’ case. As I recall, Tanner Bishop’s effort secured first a $735K recovery and then about a $2M settlement. Of that, I believe about $1M went to Kavanaugh and Tanner Bishop for fees and expenses. In my view, Dave, these folks deserve every penny.
    Like you, I have read the transcripts of the discussions between City officials and their many attorneys led by Tammi Bach. Those transcripts are available to the public now that the case is settled. No City official showed any concern for either the law or the interests of our citizens. Their only interest was in winning and obstructing the plaintiffs’ (City citizens and property owners) efforts. They should all be ashamed of themselves. It is also apparent that these same officials were scheming early to replace the unlawful impact fee ordinance with an equally unlawful replacement ordinance in the event they lost the suit. They have since done that.
    On Ron Sapp, I don’t believe I have ever agreed with anything he has written in the News Leader. I have always thought the guy to be a Luddite and a destructive force when serving in local government. When dealing with folks who were raised here I have never missed an opportunity to inquire about the quality of the schools and Sapp in particular. Like Tony Crawford, I have never heard a bad word about the guy as a teacher. Believe me Dave, I tried my best. I don’t worry a lot about teachers unduly influencing students. Students in this country are exposed to a wide range of opinions. Was it Churchill who said “if you are not a liberal as a young person you have no heart and if you are not conservative as an older person you have no brain”? Some guys never make the transition and Sapp is one of those. But the teachers you remember are the motivated ones regardless of their philosophy. Looks like Sapp may be one of those.

  • Idea! All Jags “propaganda” put on one page. I suggest the back page of the sports section. Would certainly organize the daily paper. Making a bold prediction here about 2015. Jax will win as many games as the past two seasons. 7-9 season with Gus straddling the fence for a 2016 contract. If not he’d make a great pitchman for Shad’s many business interests.

  • Dave:

    DO NOT apologize for your article as suggested by Tony Crawford & Robert Warner! These two are obviously former school employees who belonged to the teacher’s union. As you know these union people all march to the same beat and follow the “party line”! Your comments are spot-on regarding educators who are immersed in feeding our youth “climate change”; support for Planned Parenthood; etc. and other looney tunes Socialist beliefs. Us “silent majority” souls are behind you Dave and encourage you to keep up the good work!

  • Attorneys, myself included, know full well about abuses of the law on behalf of clients that are petty, emotionally involved, and self centered. There are also many attorneys, myself included – who practiced in in difficult and complex areas for the public good – primarily because we deeply believed it was the right thing to do. It’s also apparent that some commentators here who have never taught, just don’t really like young folks actually learning and thinking – should the thought process deviate from their narrow party line. A growing national issue….

  • James, great job off assumption on your part. I can’t speak for Mr Wagner nor would I assume his job or union status. To set the record straight I was a Volunteer at the school. I coached baseball free of charge for 14 years and helped to maintain both ball fields as well as coach year round. I was never in the teachers union or was on salary for my time. I meet Ron while he spent his time coaching girls softball. I can only reflect on watching him coach sports and the feedback I have received from 14 years of talking to high school students. You speak of ” these union people ” “party line” “planned parenthood ” and ” looney tunes socialist beliefs “. Do you actually know Mr. Sapp. It is obvious you don’t know me, but have made assumptions concerning my work, union and political status. If you don’t like Mr Sapp or the way he taught and have actual knowledge of this, fine voice your opinion, but please lets not assume we know things that are factual incorrect.


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