Thursday, December 29, 2011

Going green?

Going “Green?”

If you want to drive a car driven mostly by batteries, that is fine with me. But please don’t act snooty about it when I pass you in my twenty foot long four wheel drive Suburban. Have you noticed that some in the so-called “green movement” have an attitude?

Unfortunately, many green activists do not understand science. Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a huge Hummer according to Chris Demorro in a March 7, 2007, article in The Recorder-Central Connecticut State University.

The Prius is partly driven by a battery, which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is then shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe.

From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a massive Hummer - the Prius’s now-defunct arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.

If environmentalists were serious and truly considered the facts, they might ditch all the new green technology and just go back about a few years.

Back then, no one used an engine that burnt gas just to cut the grass, when a mower one pushed yourself silently trimmed it. Walking and working gave folks so much exercise, that no one joined a health club to run on treadmills operated by electricity. Back then, people returned milk bottles and beer bottles that were sterilized and refilled. Folks took the stairs rather than an elevator, and always walked everywhere. Clothes hung on the line were dried by everyday solar and wind energy at work; instead of an energy -wasting machine burning electricity. In the kitchen, all was stirred by hand because there were no electric machines to do everything.

Back then, kids rode their bikes to school, or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. Thirsty folks did not chunk a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. Writing pens, cloth diapers, lighters and razors were refilled, instead of throwing away the whole thing.

Being Green is not bad, but you are probably doing it wrong.

When Mr. Peel is not single-handedly melting the ice caps in a four wheel drive, he pursues better results for his injured clients. Mr. Peel often addresses churches and clubs and can be contacted through, wherein other articles can also be found.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Judging GOD


“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)

Even those unfamiliar with the Bible have likely heard some version of this verse quoted.
Often, this Scripture is used as a sword against a condemning critic.
For instance, if a Christian is claiming that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, a skeptic might say, “So you are saying all Hindus go to Hell…that’s judging and your Bible says you can’t judge!”
It actually says, if you judge, that measure will be used in judging you. Since Jesus Himself claimed to be the only way to Heaven, and then commanded followers to go tell that to the whole world, it seems highly unlikely that the skeptic’s point was valid. To be clear, Christians can be harsher than necessary. But in the end, there is Absolute Truth, and by definition, all short of that is, of course, false.
But the skeptic might allege that there is no such thing as Absolute Truth. Oddly, he would be asserting that, “the lack of Absolute Truth is absolutely true!” (Often, this irony is lost on skeptics.)

That being said, we are likely all guilty of judging others. Further, and more disturbingly, we all probably have judged God Himself.
Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple Computers, was a skeptic. In his self-titled biography, Walter Isaacson describes a pivotal moment in Jobs’ life. At 13, young Steve Jobs was disturbed by a photo of starving children in Africa and confronted his pastor with it. He asked the minister if God knew about these children. The Pastor tried to explain that He did. Jobs reportedly proclaimed that he wanted nothing to do with worshiping such a God, and he never again darkened a church door.

That is judging God. And, I imagine, am just as guilty of it at times. Using human reasoning, Steve Jobs had a valid point. It brings us to one of the most important questions there is:

If God is all-powerful, and He does not just stop all the suffering, can He really be all loving? If He is all loving, but just cannot stop it, can He really be all-powerful?

It is this paradox that trips up most folks. And, we sit in our lawn chairs, as it were, and judge God Almighty—this as He reigns on the massive, golden throne of all the universe.
The harsh truth is, most of us feel we could run the planet, or at least our little lives, better than God. Don’t believe me? What is your reaction when you pray for something and it does not happen?

In fact, there is an all loving, all-powerful God that exists. And it is not you. And it is not me.
The wondrous question is not about the qualities of God, and whether He cares. It is why does He care at all? He made us, and we rebelled. In a perfect environment, we could not even follow one simple rule for long. That choice brought all the sin, suffering and death that we see. The amazing thing is that He sent a ransom for us—His Only Son—that we would not be lost forever.

The deepest tragedy then, is not even the awful deaths of starving children in Africa.

The worst thing is that people are so deceived that they choose a lifetime of godless skepticism to be followed by a godless eternity of torment.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mad at God? Read this


If you have ever been mad at God, you are in good company. Most honest believers will admit that God has seemed--at times--distant, uncaring, unhearing, unjust or simply slow to react.

Given our human nature, it is understandable that these perceived shortcomings of the Divine One might outshine the things we are thankful to Him for.

We all know of Mark Twain. Born Samuel Clemens, he is the well-known author/creator of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. What is not as well known about this famous humorist is how he felt that the Almighty had utterly failed him. After he buried his son, two daughters and his beloved wife, he wrote the following:

“...a God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell--mouths mercy, and invented hell--mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!”

--Mark Twain, No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

“The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them. ”

-- Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

Twain’s concern is not complicated. He reasoned that God could make the world a happy, loving place without hunger, disease and death. Twain then rails at the Lord for His utter failure to do so. We all agree that we, like him, see our world darkened too often by famine, pestilence, pain, suffering and death.

None of us would dare to address the deeply personal pain and loss that this man bore. Darwin buried a daughter too early, as did Descartes. All three of them turned against the Lord. None of us know how we might react. However, when he took on the very character of God, Twain missed a critical fact.

The God of Scripture did—in fact—create the very world Twain imagined
He should have!

In the beginning, we are told there was a perfect environment, with plenty to eat, and no sickness, striving, suffering or death. That is not just a Sunday School story, it is history. The Fall of sinful man ushered in the age of struggle, sickness and our own mortality.

The truly remarkable thing is that a Holy God, so rejected by his children, would sacrifice his Only Son to rescue them from the results of their own sin. That, actually, explains why we celebrate that baby in the manger, and His atoning death on the cross. Jesus came to undo what we did. You can spend your life being angry with God, if you wish--much like a spoiled child who rebels against a loving parent, who has provided sacrificially for him.

But God made a Way for you to come home to Him. This Christmas, before you read the Christmas story that solves the sin and death problem, please read Genesis 1-3, so you will know what the sin and death problem actually was. Who knows what would have been different in the lives of those three men who buried children too early, if they had. As they are all long dead, they know the Truth. If you are reading this, there is still time for you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011



Yesterday’s cutting edge technology, like the once-cool Sony Walkman, looks silly to today’s children who use iPods. Much of current technology will look silly to your future grandchildren, according to Shane Richmond and Ian Douglas who write for UK’s Telegraph newspaper. What follows are a few of the things that they and others predict will look silly to future generations. Actually, I think they are right.

TV schedules: That week-long wait for your favorite TV show was a familiar feature of my childhood. Remember cartoons on Saturday mornings? Now, TV is transforming into a demand-driven service. Watch whatever, whenever you want.

Recipe books: In the house of the future, your fridge will know exactly what food items it contains, and what meals you can make with those ingredients, while video panels embedded within the work surfaces will guide you through every stage of the cooking process.

Laptops: "I used to have to carry a separate bag for my computer," you'll find yourself explaining to some youngster as he unfolds his e-paper, touchscreen laptop, connects it to his cloud storage database and starts watching a film.

Cordless home phones: The phone used to be attached to the wall by a cable and, for some unknown reason, it would probably be in the hall, forcing you to sit on the stairs while you chatted. Then came the cordless phone. Isn't it great to be able to walk around the house while you're on the phone? Your kids already wonder why phones were ever “attached” to homes by a curly cord.

Glasses: Wearing glasses to correct vision problems is still a social norm but with laser eye surgery and contact lenses, it's not hard to imagine a point in the near future when they become obsolete. However, the concept of hanging lenses in front of your face has been around for centuries and is still pretty useful. Sunglasses will be around for a while and your children may start wearing glasses to take advantage of augmented reality services, for example for navigation.

Video and Audio tape: Tape is already a thing of the past in most homes. There's no need to remember to rewind a rental video before you return it. The language remains, however, and your children may wonder why you talk about "taping" a TV show when what you're actually doing is saving it to a hard drive on a Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

Photo processing: The idea that you'd have to shoot a whole roll of film holding, if you are lucky, 36 pictures, before you can see whether any of them were any good, sounds odd to the digital camera generation. Stranger still is the idea of taking your film to the drugstore - after snapping three pointless shots of your cat to finish the film - and then waiting an hour while they processed them.

Watches: You spend most of your time sitting in front of a computer that shows the time in the corner of the screen. When you're at home you can see the time on your DVD player and your oven. And when you're out and about you're carrying a mobile phone that displays the time. Admit it, your watch is just a piece of jewelry now, isn't it?

Keyboards: Many touchscreen devices still make a clicking noise when you type on them but there's no real reason to. Modern keyboards are very quiet - nothing like the thump of old typewriters or the clacking of keyboards from the 80s. But the keyboard itself may not last much longer. They take up space, adding to the bulk of portable devices, and they suffer from being fixed: a British keyboard cannot transform into a Russian one but a touchscreen can. Though touchscreens take some getting used to for those who have learned keyboards it's unlikely that those who grow up with them will have the same problem.

CDs, DVDs and Minidiscs: Physical media are constantly being replaced. The path from records to eight track cartridges to cassettes to CDs to minidiscs to MP3 players is littered with laser discs, digital audiotapes and HD-DVDs. They’re replaced now by wireless downloads to your watching or listening device. Your CD collection is already as outdated as your grandfather's library of Vinyl LP Albums!

Pagers: It required someone to call a number so that a message can be sent to you, to ask you to call them back - is nonsense. Don't even try to explain it to your children.

The map and compass: The time of the paper map and physical compass has already passed. Having a map in a device, such as a mobile phone, means that it can be updated when necessary and can be made interactive.

Black & white film and TV: The world of old used to be in black and white, at least that's how it appears to children.

Letters: The art of letter writing is being killed by the internet. However, it's not just the art, but the technology of letters that has been usurped. The idea of writing something, putting it in the mail, waiting for it to arrive and then waiting even longer for a reply seems bizarre in our world of always-on communications. Plane tickets, bank statements and bills are already paperless for most people.

Fax machines: Every now and again a piece of paper can't be emailed to someone and, as discussed above, the mail is just too slow. So we have to dust off the fax machine in the corner. This technology dates back to the 1970s.

Email: As we've seen already, email has replaced letters and the fax machine. But don't think being email-friendly means you can escape the mockery of your juniors. Teenagers these days eschew email in favor of instant messenger for direct communication and prefer social networks for longer messages.

Gas-powered vehicles: Our children may be slightly perplexed to hear that we used to pump flammable liquid into our cars to keep them running. They’ll be plugging theirs in instead.

Phone booths: Yes kids, we left phones lying around the country, in giant glass boxes with sticking doors that pinched your fingers. Whenever someone wanted to use one of these phones they had to pay, which meant needing to have change on you. Good luck finding a phone booth anywhere today. (Where would Superman change now?) In the future, life long phone numbers will soon be assigned to find you wherever, whenever, forever.

Multiple remote controls: We used to have to walk across the room to change the channel on the television that had only three channels anyway. Now we have four remotes. In future, your mobile phone will probably double as a remote for whatever it is you're trying to operate.

Floppy discs: From the 1969 eight-inch format, to the mid-1990s 3.5 inch plastic case, your children will be amazed to learn that at their best, they held up to 240MB. (A few songs’ worth on their iPod).

Telephone directories: We printed every phone number into a huge book, which we delivered to every household in the country! Seriously! (Now, few have home numbers anyway.)

Dial-up internet access: It will seem odd to future generations that we used to turn our internet access on --during which you couldn't use your phone– and be charged by the minute for access.

Computers in boxes: As components get smaller still and more computing power is transferred to the cloud, cutting the need for local resources, the need for a box will be eliminated altogether.

Visiting the supermarket: By the time your children are grown up, all of those boring products will be ordered online and delivered to save you the trouble of going to the shop and getting them.

‘Owning’ music, books and film: Once data can be stored in the cloud and accessed by your device whenever you need it, the idea of 'owning' something starts to seem strange. Your children won't collect albums, they'll have every album ever made at their fingertips all the time.

Cords and cables: Wireless data transfer, battery-powered devices and cordless charging mats will make the spaghetti of wires in every office as obsolete as going into or gas station to pay for gas.

TVs and radios that need tuning: "Stay tuned" lost its original meaning and your children will never guess that you used to turn a tiny dial like a safe cracker in an effort to get your TV tuned to the correct channel.

Disposable batteries: Mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players mostly use rechargeable batteries. The idea that you used to have to throw batteries away and then go and buy some new ones already seems quite strange.

Fillings in teeth: It's good to know that in the near future all that business with injections, numb mouths and metal amalgams will be over and old, damaged teeth will be removed and replaced with shiny news ones, grown from stem cells to order. The last generation to know the special fear that comes with the rising whine of the drill is already brushing its own teeth.

Road signs: Universal Satellite-navigation will mean they’ll be tearing down those hulking sheets of metal at the side of the road and insisting that your car informs you that it's five miles to town or that road works will be disrupting traffic until July 2035. Those same devices will also keep an eye on your speed and report your movements to the traffic police.

Checks: You probably laugh at these already, and your children will be laughing right along with you. Imagine, a booklet of pre-printed IOUs that you use instead of money. You hand out details that would allow the recipient to set up direct debits on your account with every payment. They are secured only by your signature, which the person processing the check has no chance of recognizing. Mobile phones will be swiped for payment at checkout (to get your right hand used to that motion?)

Mr. Peel, who is feeling older everyday, is a local attorney seeking justice for those hurt in motor vehicle accidents, work related injuries, medical malpractice, nursing home and trucking cases. Mr. Peel often addresses churches and clubs and can be contacted through, wherein other articles can also be found.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful for America

Something to be Thankful For

We woke up this morning in a country that enjoys rare blessings and protections.

Think of how improbable it is that a few colonies could stand up to the most formidable navy in the world during the Revolutionary War and survive. We really should have lost, even with France’s help. It looked like we would never stay united following the War Between the States and the explosive issues of slavery and states’ rights that drive that tragic conflict. When Japan had the drop on us at Pearl Harbor, and virtually destroyed the Pacific Fleet, we could have easily folded. When Nazi Germany’s superior war machine rolled roughshod across Europe, it was more likely we’d never stop them. On D-Day, our gliders and airdrops were mostly miles off course, many of our troops were scattered across the countryside of France. U.S. defeat was in sight. The U.S. invasion of Normandy beach was a killing field for our troops. The bad weather conspired to drown many heavily loaded men before they ever even faced the German pills boxes laying down incessant machine gun fire. The Germans had the high ground. And, they were ahead of the U.S. in both jet engine technology and the atomic bomb. Using only what we can see, America should never have survived.

But we did.

And we thrived.

The United States is the world’s remaining Superpower. We are sailing eleven (11) Aircraft carriers through the world’s troubled waters, while no other country has more than two. Although North America has only 6% of the world adult population, it accounts for 34% of household wealth.

All this success causes some interesting points. We call the Super Bowl winners the “World” Champions even though the football series is only played by American teams. In fact, the rest of the world thinks “football” is what we call “soccer.” Similarly, the “World Series” in baseball is limited to North American teams.

We tend to think America is somehow superior to other nations. I am one of the those, too.

But I think that we can trace our blessings back to the beginning. This Thanksgiving, read some true Mayflower history to your family. Here is the modern version of the text of the Mayflower Compact, signed as they ventured upon the “new world” in 1620:

“In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.”

I believe it is that same God, Who has blessed us with the bravery of our Veterans, the sharpness of our intellects, the wealth of our resources and the protection of His Mighty Hand.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family, and from the Staff of Peel Law Firm.


See more of Mr. Peel’s articles on Mr. Peel may be available to speak to your church or club. Contact

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans tribute

Tribute to Veterans

I have felt blessed to live in the United States all my life. Part of what makes our country great is the ample freedom we enjoy.

But, as the saying goes, freedom is not free.

The security, power and military superiority of the United States was earned by the blood, sweat, tears and backs of our veterans.

This blanket of security is indeed, stitched with bloody gauze of our servicemen and women. While I have enjoyed its protection, I have never contributed a square of cloth to it.

I am convicted by the courage of the veterans who charged the beaches of Normandy in World War II. This greatest generation quite literally saved the world from the Nazis plan to take over the world.

I admire the men who faced the Battle of Inchon in the Korean Conflict. I am confronted by the bravery of the men who faced the incessant attacks of the Vietcong. In both these conflicts, our servicemen who received tragically little support from back home.

More recently, our service personnel freed tiny Kuwait from attacks by Saddam Hussein of Iraq during Desert Storm; only to return later and liberate Iraq and Afghanistan from Islamic extremists. Make no mistake: the U.S. won both those wars handily!Defeating insurgencies is quite another matter, and is a police matter that we are asking our troops to do.

I am glad to see how much more support our returning troops now receive. At the college football games I attend, some of the loudest cheers are often for a service man or woman being reunited with his or her family.

We can all simply acknowledge the contribution they have made, and continue to make, to do their duty on our behalf.


See more of Mr. Peels articles Mr. Peel may be available to speak to your church or club. Contact

Monday, October 10, 2011

COURAGEOUS Movie is Must-See

The new movie "Courageous" from the producers of FireProof and Facing the Giants, is a must-see.

As you might know, movies with a distinctively positive message are often given short shrift at the cinemas. It is irritating that movies that feature Satanic serial killers like "Friday the 13th" will run for months, while positive films fight to run just two weeks.

Thus, I implore you to see and support this film as soon as possible. Not only do I think you will find it moving, funny and meaningful, but it needs your family's support to run as long as possible.
The story is at once, a guy movie with masculine theme and an emotional tear-jerker. There is something for everyone.

While the plot, involving law enforcement officers, may remind you of the movie Grace Card, it is not at all a do-over of that story. Men, especially Dads, will be challenged by the message. I have likely read a thousand movie reviews myself, and some have said "you will laugh, you will cry." In this matter, I can assure you that I saw big burly men crying like little girls, and then a minute later, the whole theater was laughing loudly.

Don't be surprised if the audience claps at the end.

When was the last time you even felt like doing that?

Please do not put it off. My kids (as young as nine) loved it, regardless of the PG-13 rating for a couple violent scenes. Please go see Courageous the movie. Tonight. This weekend.

You will not regret it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Article I must share

TN lawmakers give negligent nursing homes a break

Written by
Walter F. Roche Jr. | The Tennessean

When Dennis Matthews hears lobbyists and nursing home operators in Tennessee talk about the high cost of lawsuits and the need for tort reform, he can only shudder.

Matthews sued Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America after his mother, Verdie, died from dehydration and malnutrition at one of the chain’s nursing homes in Cleveland, Tenn.

After an 11-day trial, the jury found that the nursing home was negligent and awarded the family $11.5 million, but Bradley County Judge Ginger Buchanan threw out the verdict. She granted the nursing home’s motion for a new trial, saying that the evidence did not support the amount of the jury award. Matthews eventually reached a settlement with the nursing chain for a fraction of the jury award.

“It was horrible. I hate to even think about it,” Matthews said.

A Tennessean review of laws, inspection reports and lawsuits has shown that for people such as Matthews who have lost a loved one in a Tennessee nursing home, things may be about to get worse.

Even as a large segment of the population moves into its later years of life and might require nursing home care, Tennessee is moving toward lighter regulation of nursing homes, fewer state investigations and laws that make it more difficult to bring potentially costly lawsuits against operators.

Many nursing homes in Tennessee also now require patients or their families to sign agreements waiving their rights to a trial before admission.

A measure passed earlier this year by the legislature places strict new limits on the rights of nursing home patients and their families to sue nursing homes for poor care. That law, which caps the amount a jury can award, goes into effect this week.

This comes just a couple of years after the legislature in 2009 vastly reduced oversight of the 325 nursing homes in the state by eliminating regulations mandating that nursing home operators file detailed reports on adverse events affecting patients. Also eliminated were requirements that the state investigate those incidents. Officials said the change was needed so they could spend their time investigating more serious complaints.

Tennessee has not fared well compared with other states in some key quality measures of nursing homes. And federal officials have said the state has failed in its regulation of such homes. A report issued this year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office gave the state Health Department failing scores for its performance in investigating serious complaints against nursing homes. It said there was a backlog of cases that had gone uninvestigated, and it cited a staff shortage as a factor.

The new limits on lawsuits could shut down yet another avenue of complaints — the courtroom. Plaintiffs’ lawyers candidly admit that the new caps will keep many nursing home malpractice claims from ever getting to court, in part because lawyers will be less inclined to take the cases.

“By limiting the only damages a nursing home resident has, the new law has made it virtually impossible, in some cases, for attorneys to recover a reasonable amount of money for the victims and their families,” said Nashville attorney Randy Kinnard.

The tort reform bill sets a $750,000 cap on pain and suffering claims against a nursing home. A higher $1 million cap applies to limited types of cases. Caps do not apply if intentional misconduct is found. Nor is there any cap on economic damages, such as doctor and hospital bills or lost wages.

H. Lee Barfield II, an attorney who represents nursing homes and lobbied for the tort reform bill on behalf of Tennesseans for Economic Growth, said that he did not believe the new law would limit access to the court system. But he acknowledged the law would significantly reduce the amount juries can award. In one case he cited, a jury verdict of$34 million would have been limited to $2.55 million if the new law had been in place.

He stressed that support for the new tort law came from a coalition of businesses across the state, not just nursing homes.

Ranked near bottom
Tennessee nursing homes already rank near the bottom nationally in two key areas of care, according to federal data. Without the threat of lawsuits, some attorneys and advocates think, it will sink even lower.

Data compiled by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show Tennessee ranks fourth out of 50 from the bottom in the number of hours per patient per day provided by certified nurse assistants. It ranks seventh from the bottom in registered nurse hours per patient per day, according to the CMS data.

The latest data show Tennessee nursing homes provide an average of 0.62 hours of registered nursing care per patient per day. Assistant Health Commissioner Christy Allen said that was comparable to other states in the region. Neighboring Kentucky provides 0.8 hours, while Florida provides 0.64. The states that provide the most hours are generally lower-population states: Hawaii nursing homes average 1.36 hours, Delaware provides 1.22 hours and Alaska 1.86 hours.

According to state health officials, current law and regulations require licensed nursing personnel to provide only 0.4 hours of direct care per patient each day.

Professor John F. Schnelle of the Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging said studies have shown that increasing the hours of nursing care provided to patients can improve quality.

But he cautioned, “There has to be a substantial increase in staff levels before you see a significant improvement in quality.”

Several published studies, including a report from the Institute of Medicine and one co-authored by Schnelle, have found links between staffing levels and the quality of care provided in licensed nursing homes.

Federal scrutiny
Tennessee’s regulation of the nursing home industry has come under scrutiny in audits conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In the report issued in April, Tennessee failed to achieve passing marks in three areas: prioritizing complaints; performing timely investigations of complaints in cases in which patients were in immediate jeopardy; and performing timely investigations of complaints when a patient had endured actual harm.

In a 2008 report, the GAO cited Tennessee as one of nine states in which serious deficiencies were missed more than a quarter of the time. The auditors found that Tennessee inspectors missed 26.3 percent of the serious deficiencies — those that could cause actual harm or place patients in immediate jeopardy.

A year later, in August 2009, another GAO audit report cited Tennessee as the No. 1 state in which the number of poorly performing homes was understated. While only three Tennessee facilities had been designated as poorly performing and placed in a “special focus” category, GAO estimated the actual number should have been 14.

Currently the federal government categorizes one nursing home in the region, Imperial Gardens Health and Rehabilitation Center in Madison, as a special focus facility. Special focus facilities are subject to closer oversight and more frequent inspections. Homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs are generally inspected at least once every 15 months.

Imperial Gardens Administrator Rene Sharp said the facility has corrected all the deficiencies cited in a state Health Department report issued this year.

Allen, the assistant health commissioner, in an email response to questions about the GAO reports, noted that the federal government, not the state, determines which homes are placed on the special focus list. She also noted that two of the studies were issued two or three years ago and that the department has taken steps to respond.

“The department does pay close attention to GAO reports,” she wrote.

She acknowledged, however, that the department’s nursing inspection team currently has a 31 percent vacancy rate, just as it did at the time of the audits. Twenty-four of the authorized 77 positions are vacant.

Department officials said they have been unable to fill the positions because registered nurses are in high demand and private-sector jobs pay higher.

Allen said the department has worked through the 2,850 backlogged cases noted in the GAO review and has only 12 left. In the meantime, however, the agency has built an additional backlog of 292 open complaints.

“We made a huge push to reduce the backlog of investigations with the staff we have, but it is unrealistic to expect employees to continue to perform at that level indefinitely. We need more staff to share the workload on an ongoing basis,” Allen wrote.

Short-lived victory?
Early this year, the Tennessee Supreme Court in a 12-page decision delivered a virtually complete victory to the family of a 57-year-old woman who died after a four-month stay at a Chattanooga nursing home.

The suit charged that Martha French, who had suffered a debilitating stroke, developed pressure sores or ulcers that, because of poor care, became infected, leading to her death from sepsis.

The decision reversed most of an unfavorable appeals court decision and concluded that French’s family could pursue medical malpractice and negligence claims against Stratford House, a 127-bed nursing home. That meant that all of the family’s claims would not be placed under the strict requirements of the state medical malpractice law.

In addition, the court ruled that the family could pursue negligence claims based on violations of state and federal regulations and under the state Adult Protection Act.

But even as lawyers assessed the victory, a move was afoot to undo it.

Despite protests from some legislators and advocates for the eldery, the nursing home provisions in the tort reform bill included a key provision that brings all claims against nursing homes under the strict limits of the medical malpractice law, eliminating separate claims for negligence and requiring plaintiffs to provide certification that the care provided did not meet local standards. Punitive damages also are limited to $500,000 or two times the pain and suffering claims. Claims under a protection from abuse also will be blocked.

Lawyers who regularly take nursing home negligence and malpractice cases say the new law completely reverses the French decision.

“I think it is going to effectively weaken protection for vulnerable adults. There will be much less accountability,” said James B. McHugh, a Mississippi attorney who has tried nursing home cases in Tennessee.

Mark Geller, a Memphis lawyer, said the law, by putting a cap on possible claims, will allow nursing home operators to calculate in advance how little care they can provide.

“A person’s life is worth $750,000. That’s it.”

Barfield said the nursing home industry in Tennessee was facing a financial crisis under the old system and changes were necessary.

“What this does is provide predictability so the companies can plan,” he said.

He said it remains to be seen whether the new law will negate the court ruling.

“We’ll see. The jury is still out,” Barfield said.

PACs gave to governor, sponsors of 2009 bill
D. Gerald Coggin, vice president of Murfreesboro-based National Healthcare Corp., one of the largest nursing home chains in the country, said it’s too early to predict what savings may result from the new law. He noted that nursing homes are already facing cutbacks in payments under the Medicare program.

One of NHC’s homes, AdamsPlace in Murfreesboro, achieved the top five-star ranking from CMS. The home gained the top score in three of four categories, including inspections and overall quality of care.

State campaign finance records show that Gov. Bill Haslam and key legislators got substantial contributions for their election campaigns from nursing home owners and affiliated political action committees.

Haslam’s committee collected more than $28,000 from the state nursing home association PAC, formed by National Healthcare Corp. and owners and officials of nursing homes. Sen. Bill Ketron’s campaign committee collected nearly $10,000, while Speaker Beth Harwell’s committee took in $11,000.

In 2009, Tennessee nursing home owners benefited from another act of the General Assembly. A measure backed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration stripped from the law books pages of reporting requirements on adverse events and other problems in the state’s more than 300 licensed nursing homes.

The sponsors of the bill were all the recipients of campaign contributions from nursing home political action committees.

An aide to state Sen. James F. Kyle Jr., a Memphis Democrat and the Senate sponsor, said the law had to be changed because the state Health Department could not keep up with the law’s requirements.

“They had a big backlog, and this was a way to streamline things,” he said.

Allen confirmed that the department requested the change.

Kyle’s campaign committee collected $4,500 from nursing home PACs over the past three years. House sponsor Rep. Mike Turner collected $4,500 from nursing home PACs, while co-sponsor David Shepard brought in $3,000 from the nursing home interest for his campaign.

The Health Department spokeswoman said the change in reporting requirements enacted in 2009 enabled the agency to focus on more serious complaints and respond more quickly.

For Dennis Matthews, who saw an $11.5 million jury award literally disappear, the experience has left him with a bitter taste.

“I will never ever have faith in the judicial system again,” he said. He said his mother was supposed to be in the home for only 30 days’ rehabilitation. “She got no food or water. That was proven.”

Lawyers for the nursing home denied the charges.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I grew up hearing that if someone was hurt on your property it was automatically YOUR fault.

I was in law school when I learned that was NOT TRUE.

It has never been true. But, like most myths, there is an element of truth. First of all, property insurance sometimes has a provision called medical payments.

Medical payments can be made regardless of fault So it is not liability based at all. For example, if you are playing basketball at a friends house and just fall, med pay can take of bills, usually up to 5,000.00.

Understandably, the other basketball players know you fell and then they hear an insurance company paid you.

However, for the homeowner to actually be liable, there would have to be fault. In the law, it is called negligence.

An example of negligence would include a homeowner leaving a cord across a dark walk, not covering a hole or warning about it or having a viscous dog.

David B. Peel, an injury attorney, often speaks to churches, clubs and groups without costs. He may be reached at

Thursday, September 8, 2011


What to Do After an Accident

You thought they were going to stop.

They pulled right out like you were not there. There was no way you could avoid them.

You may have found yourself in this situation before. After an accident, people are stunned, injured, scared. Massive amounts of adrenaline dull pain in what is known the “fight or flight” response.

Post accident response in a serious collision is one of the things that you need to think through now, because at the time it is unlikely you will be thinking as clearly.

Here are steps you can take:

1. It is usually recommended that you stay in the car unless there is actual fire or burning or someone else is in immediate jeopardy. (The whitish powdery smoke you will see is from the airbags, more than likely, and is not dangerous.) Cars rarely catch on fire, but it can happen. Be careful, as many people are hit as pedestrians by passing motorists after an accident.

2. Dial 911. It is best that an ambulance with trained first responders evaluate everyone involved. Self-diagnosis after such an impact is difficult and even dangerous. Especially in cases of undiagnosed head or spinal trauma, permanent damage can be done by movement.

3. If you or another are able and out of the car, take cell phone photos of the scene. This proves the arrangement in case the cars are moved before police investigate. Do not get into fault discussions with the other parties.

4. Do accept treatment and recommendations from first responders. They are in a much better position to decide what you might require. Transport to a good Emergency Room, not necessary the closest, is desirable.

5. Follow up with general doctors and specialists as you require. The “muscle tightness” after the wreck is likely to be severe pain in the days following.

6. Contact your insurance company; and consult an injury attorney to discuss your right and responsibilities, if you believe you were not at fault.

Much like having a fire drill, these steps should be thought through before it happens. The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 37,313 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2008. Motor vehicle collisions the leading cause of injury death among children worldwide 10 – 19 years old (260,000 children die a year, 10 million are injured) and the sixth leading preventable cause of death in the United States (45,800 people died and 2.4 million were injured in 2005). Odds are good that you will be in at least one crash during your lifetime.

You will have an idea of what to do if that happens.

David B. Peel is a local injury attorney who assists victims of car and truck accidents. Mr. Peel often speaks to civic clubs, churches, Sunday Schools, and other groups without charge. He may be reached at wherein other article may be found as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Are you rich?


What is rich?

For most people, it is about 40-50% more than whatever you make.

So, if you work full time in fast food at $8.00 an hour, you make about $16,000.00 a year. Therefore, if your friend lands a job making $25,000.00 a year, he might seem rich by comparison. Oddly though, this trend continues even among very high earners. So some someone make $150,000.00 a year is still likely to look with envy upon his neighbor who earns $215,000.00.

Oddly, the lesser earner often tends to believe that the higher earner should be able to live on the lesser salary and give the rest away. This creates class warfare and fights about tax fairness.

However, United States residents, even relatively poor ones, are wealthy beyond what most others dream of.

Until you spend time in India or Africa, I would argue you may not have seen real poverty. There, millions each day only seek two items: potable water and food. In some areas, they also seek firewood. Not much else, and certainly not cable and a cell phone.

Three billion (3,000,000,000.) people live on less than $2 per day.

About 1.3 billion (1,300,000,000.) get by on less than $1 per day (mostly women).

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has more wealth than the bottom 45 percent of American households combined.

Wealth vs. poverty is relative. In the United States, the poverty level is $22,050 for a family of four and the average is just over $40,000.

In Haiti, Honduras or Uganda, you could move there and live like a king with either salary.

You may not have a nice car, but even having a car is not actually required. I know, I like them too, but it is true. In many cities, adults never learn to drive and ride a bus or a bicycle. Most countries know nothing of our car culture. I think it should become a normal, mandatory requirement for students to go to a place like Haiti to graduate high school.

In the United States almost everyone has: Food, clean water and shelter and enough clothing to wear for weeks.

We should help others and be grateful for our ability to do so. You will find it is impossible to be both grateful and greedy at the same moment.

Then He said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 NIV


David B. Peel, an injury attorney, earns his living locally, where he often speaks to churches, clubs and groups without costs. He may be reached at

Friday, August 26, 2011

We are smaller than we think

Recent news about earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes often make people question what they think they know. We question what is real and where is God? God is right where He has always been.

But maybe we should ask more questions. Like, what are we really depending on?

When the seemingly solid earth beneath you begins to undulate like jello, and all that you hold dear crashes in all round you.

When the soothing ocean waves suddenly retreat, only to return as a tsunami—a fast moving wall of water taller than your home--and wash 250,000 people out to sea.

When the nourishing rains and gentle breezes suddenly plunge down in a funnel cloud through neighborhoods and scatter homes across two counties.

When the swirling winds and torrential rains of a hurricane peel off the roofs and cause mass destruction and evacuations.

If these do not cause questions, something might be wrong with your questioner. But notice just how little change it takes to go from tranquility to tragedy.

Does it not remind us just how small we are?

For all of our technology, only one structure is easily visible from the space station: the ancient Great Wall of China. A pile of cut stones, really.

I think we are an arrogant race, we humans. We think we are so advanced, but all it takes is one of the above events to put us back in our place.

It is probably a good thing to have our faith challenged and tested. We can blame or we can praise the God of the storm. When some of Jesus’ followers went through this following storm, they were never the same.

"And evening having come, He said to them on that day, Let us pass over to the other side. And when they had sent away the crowd, they took Him with them as He was in the boat. And there were also other little boats with Him. And there arose a windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full. And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest. And they awakened Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we perish? And He awakened and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" Mark 4:35-40 MKJV


Mr. Peel is a local attorney who practices in the areas of Accident, Injuries, Malpractice and Nursing Home Neglect. Mr. Peel often addresses churches and clubs and can be contacted through, wherein other articles can also be found.