Monthly Archives: October 2009

Health Care and Halloween


Happy Halloween. The State Fair of Texas is over, so is the Red River Shoot Out between OU and UT, and hopefully all the rain is gone for a few days. I think Houston may have sunk below sea level last week from all the rain. I decided to try and get caught up with national news and I see everyone is still blabbing about the Obama Health Plan. It reminded me of Halloween – includes lots of hidden meaning in a costume or flashy mask and unknown treats.

I am not versed in the Obama plan, I just know that what I have heard so far is not all horrible and gory and includes options. Personally, I pay an outrageous amount of money every month (as do many of your employers) for insurance. The cost I pay is higher than what a very overweight smoking male counterpart would pay. Crazy!

But I’m not bitter, just want to be more educated about the health care issues. For years, I worked in law firms that represented wealthy insurance companies. I have often asked my employers why the government did not put controls on how insurance companies do business. A good example is simply paying your monthly premium, going to the doctor for a cold, and having to pay 80% of your visit any way because the insurance company decided they no longer cover the common cold in your State! Again, a bit of an exaggeration, but I wager a bet that most of us have experienced something similar with our own insurance. Although health care reform may not be the fix of all insurance dilemmas, it sure seems like a good start.

I see some downsides to the plan, as do many Republicans; but I also see some really good options and movement in the right direction. One downside is the potential for no more fault of the health care providers. Not good if you are a medical malpractice lawyer. Score 1 for the elephants. The other downside is the pressure it will put on small businesses, whom I have always been employed by. One more for the elephants. The upside is the ability for millions of people like me to afford decent insurance that will actually pay for something and is not a complete waste of money and time. A healthier America, is a better America, one that works. Score 1 for the Donkeys. I could go on all night, but I need to go polish my nails. I guess we will not know the affects until we give it a try. Kind of like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Okay, that was a low blow. In any event, I include two links with information to make you a more informed American. Hope all is well, and you stay far away from ghouls, ghosts and H1N1. Yikes!

The first link is actually the bullet points of Obama’s plan whether you have insurance or you do not. And for those whose companies are cutting back, you should read this, it might affect you later.

For all the women in your life, and yes, even if you are a guy you should care, here is an interesting article. Check it out, especially if you have ever been denied insurance coverage, including coverage for certain things, like maternity coverage, or you have no insurance coverage.;_ylt=Au9KS9uzU8vZFoium6gLGXdv24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTNjOHEwbzJnBGFzc2V0A3VzbmV3cy8yMDA5MTAyMS93aHl3b21lbnNob3VsZHB1c2hmb3JoZWFsdGhjYXJlcmVmb3JtBGNwb3MDNgRwb3MDNgRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3JpZXMEc2xrA3doeXdvbWVuc2hvdQ


Is Working as a Paralegal Really that Exciting?


To answer the question, I take pleasure in sharing a short diary of events from last week’s Arbitration in South Texas. It took an army of people working long hours seven days a week for many weeks to prepare for a five day arbitration, four of them spent on location near Harlingen. I attended with my boss and an associate attorney, and sent nightly and daily e-mails to the team back in Dallas. Some of the names have been changed. Hope you enjoy it!

Weslaco, Texas – Day 1
Well, I can honestly say I already do not like opposing counsel. I think he was the one who picked the rat hole we are all staying in. Phillip (the associate attorney) and I will surely have pneumonia from the mold and lack of sleep and Peter (the big boss) will have lung cancer (but you already knew that). This hotel is just one very small notch above the isolated moldy bunker I stayed in on the OU campus. Actually, they are about even. My bed actually looks like a salad bowl.

Our luggage and boxes finally arrived. The boxes actually arrived in their own “body bags,” from Southwest Airlines. They were disintegrated from getting wet somewhere along the trip! My suitcase had a broken jar in it that I had to dump out and part of it fell on the carpet. When I cleaned the carpet, the white towel turned brown. ewe.

It’s now 2 am and I’m trying to download a trial version of Adobe because remote access is slow. But all is well in the Rio Grande Valley. Wish us luck tomorrow. If Peter calls looking for me PLEASE call 911 because I might be dead. I feel like I am in the sequel to “No Country for Old Men!”

(just poking fun at everything and wanted a good laugh)
See ya

Weslaco, TX – Day 2
The opposing party is a big Santa Clause looking gringo with a mullet (a really long one) and a full beard and mustache. I guess they didn’t realize the 80’s were over in South Texas. Their expert is an older gentleman with a bad pinstriped suit on. He’s so tan that his white hair and teeth glow. He looks like Bob Barker from The Price is Right. The second witness, John, is wound tighter than a drum and used to work for Santa Clause. He seems hostile to both parties, can’t figure him out. Tomorrow the arbitrator is going to allow him to say whatever he wants. I want to record this. He has a mullet too.

Steve, another one of their witnesses, was a nervous wreck, and after each answer would look to Joe Bob for approval. Interesting interaction. And . . . yes, he has a mullet as well.

Our client, Rolando, is a very reserved Hispanic man. His hair is always perfect, jeans are always pressed, and he is very polite. We have two experts as well, really smart men who are helping us out.

More later.

Later Day 2
Shhhhh, its only 11:20 pm, and I’m actually back in my room. I’m hunkering down with the lights off just in case Peter knocks on my door and wants to work. (Just kidding) At dinner, Peter told Phillip he can do the direct examination of our expert . . . . tomorrow! Phillip probably won’t go to bed because he will stay up and prepare all night. He is doing really well!

Joe Bob (the opposing party) still has really pretty hair, I’m wondering how he gets the wings in the front to feather so well. Still need his secret, my hair looks like a Brillo pad. It is really humid here!

Tonight I snuck into the hotel bar to see what kind of action was going on there. There was Big Tom’s karaoke (a big Harley lookin’ dude singing country), and a couple of lonely women at the bar. Eeeeeekkkk. Then I checked out the hot tub our expert has been raving about. I was worried about a disease, so I opted for the patio next to the pool. The pool actually has a locked fence around it so all I can do is look at it. Unfortunately, the table of people next to me found a tic! So now I’m back in my room wondering what has caused the carpet to be so sticky.

Well, more tomorrow. Good night.

Weslaco, TX – Day 3
Mid day update today. This place is so gross there are mosquitoes in our conference room. The good news is we are going to end this big brew ha ha tomorrow with the last two people to testify as Joe Bob and then Rolando (our reserved, quiet client). Hmmmm.

Chuck (one of our experts who thought he would have time to golf of swim) is exhausted from sitting all day. He said his room stinks badly. I told him there was probably a dead body under his bed.

Ok, back to arbitration. Keep you posted.

Weslaco, TX – Day 4
We are sitting here with Rolando practicing direct examination. Peter thinks we’ve got our story now. I think I have lung cancer and tics. (If you haven’t figured it out, Peter smokes . . . a lot.) Poor Rolando, he is exhausted as well. He actually has a hair out of place! Phillip can’t even remember his own name and he has a calculator in his hand.

Too much work to do because I have been working off of one of about 500 versions of Rolando’s direct examination, and of course, the wrong one.


STILL in Weslaco, TX – Day 4 (Beginning of Day 5)
It is now 12:15 am. Not sure when we are going to stop. Peter finally took a break after Rolando almost fell asleep. I hope he doesn’t go into a diabetic coma on his way home. That would be a major drag after all the work you all have done!

I took five minutes to go change my clothes. I put my pajamas on, but Peter still is not taking the hint. Phillip is outside doing jumping jacks while Peter takes another smoke break. I hope he runs out of cigarettes soon so that I can sneak off to my room and fall asleep while he is making a run to the gas station. Wishful thinking. He just bought two packs after dinner, but I think he is close!

Phillip has also now taken up the habit of chewing ice. Now I have two of them. Maybe one of them will need emergency dental service in the next 15 minutes. More wishful thinking. Okay I’m cracking myself up so I better go.

Wish us luck tomorrow, opposing counsel will probably be going in for the kill.

STILL Day 4 (Beginning of Day 5)
Well it is now 12 minutes after my last e-mail, and I’m still in Peter’s hotel room. We have fashioned a conference room table out of spare tables in each of our rooms. He is reading Joe Bob’s deposition and highlighting his highlights.

The printer that was provided to us for use prints about 1 page per 5 minutes, on a good day. It stays under the table across the room from the opposing party during the arbitration. I started printing a brief at the beginning of their cross examination of Chuck. They got perturbed and asked me to stop. hee hee, that was fun.

Have I mentioned I have about 100 e-mails from Colleen, Peter’s wife and law partner? They are all e-mails about case law and briefing. I’m going to report them as spam.. . .(just kidding).

Got to get back to work, no more pretending.

Weslaco, TX – Day 5
As you all know, we are sitting at the airport. I couldn’t get to the bar fast enough. I couldn’t sleep from the excitement of packing, I took my suitcase to breakfast with me. Chuck didn’t come to breakfast this morning, I think he was exhausted just from sitting all day.

Today was extremely busy. Joe Bob took the stand as usual. He had an orange shirt on to match his red hair. Picture a large man with a very large pressed orange shirt, jeans, small white tennis shoes, and a flowing mullet. It reminds me of a deformed Rubik’s cube.

Even better, while Peter was cross-examining Joe Bob, he would scoot his chair closer and closer to Joe Bob. At one point Peter’s chair hooked onto the extension cord that had every single piece of peripheral equipment plugged in the room and took it all down. I don’t think he had a clue. I thought perhaps he was going to actually share a chair with Joe Bob, but then Joe Bob’s lawyers had to ruin all the fun and told Peter to quit touching their client! Party poopers. I think I’m going to miss Joe Bob.

We got moved from our conference room to the “VIP” room on Thursday night. It has wood paneling and a screen. The screen costs extra. Please! By lunch time the court reporter was sick from the cigarette smoke that was coming into the “VIP” room from last night’s karaoke festivities. I’m convinced the hotel is reselling our box of bottled water and batteries that came up missing after the first day.

Here’s how the rest of the day went. At lunch, Peter headed straight for a table by the pool, highlighter, lighter and cigarettes all in hand. Phillip followed. As they debated hard, I went to Subway with the Court Reporter who is so confused she thought this was an insurance case. Upon my return and while trying to eat a salad, I had to retrieve another highlighter for Peter.

As we are sitting there, our client shows up, sits down and quietly says, “everything is suspended.” Peter continues to feverishly circle, box and write on every square inch of paper within 50 feet of him. (better not leave anything that resembles paper around …. shew).

Phillip and I stared at our client as we tried to comprehend what he just said. Rolando repeated it three times before we realized what he meant. the next thing you know him and Santa Clause are hugging. For the love of God, you let your client go to lunch and the next thing you know there is a settlement. Damn, we didn’t even get to finish the cross-examination of Joe Bob Santa Clause!

Got to go, Peter is cross-examining me again over yet one more fact I have gotten wrong. See you soon.