Friday, June 27, 2014



The news this time of year always seems to tell of baby who died in a hot car due to an absent-minded parent, or even worse, allegations of an intentional death.

Regardless of the motive or lack thereof, what does Tennessee law allow you to do if you see a child in a locked car, apparently suffocating due to the heat? If you break the window to rescue the child, won’t the owner of the car sue you?  Maybe. But you may have immunity from the suit.

A new Tennessee law, effective July 1, 2014, addresses just that issue.

TCA 29-34-209 states:
(a) A person whose conduct conforms to the requirements of subsection (b) shall be immune from civil liability for any damage resulting from the forcible entry of a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a minor from the vehicle.
(b) Subsection (a) applies if the person:
(1) Determines the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no
reasonable method for the minor to exit the vehicle;
(2) Has a good faith belief that forcible entry into the vehicle is
necessary because the minor is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed from the vehicle and, based upon the circumstances known to the person at the time, the belief is a reasonable one;
(3) Has contacted either the local law enforcement agency, the fire department or the 911 operator prior to forcibly entering the vehicle;
(4) Places a notice on the vehicle’s windshield with the person’s
contact information, the reason the entry was made, the location of the minor and that the authorities have been notified;
(5) Remains with the minor in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle until law enforcement, fire or other emergency responder arrives; and
(6) Used no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the child from the vehicle than is necessary under the circumstances.

(c) Nothing in this section shall affect the person’s civil liability if the
person attempts to render aid to the minor in addition to what is authorized by
this section.

The standard of “imminent danger” of suffering harm is used by Tennessee to say that this must be an actual emergency before you should break glass, etc.  Be aware, however, that you must show that you complied with every single solitary point of the entire statute to get the immunity protection.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The Worthless Dollar?

Have you noticed your grocery bill and your gasoline bill seem higher than ever? It's not just you. My injured clients are often scrimping to get by as they recover from unexpected injuries that put them out of work. Prices just seem to keep climbing. And it's not just your imagination.

Firstly, the price of meats, poultry, fish and eggs set the all-time high in May. Meat costs, especially bacon (my favorite), are rising the fastest. Some say that we now have the fewest cattle in the last 60 years.  Starbucks has raised prices on some drinks and its packaged coffee sold in supermarkets. Folgers and Dunkin' Donuts brands have already boosted prices on us coffee addicts.

Secondly, the food package sizes have changed. While a gallon of gas is still a gallon, almost nothing in the grocery store is the same size as it was just 10 or 15 years ago.
If you notice, things are no longer in round numbers. What used to be 24 ounces is whittled down to 23.7. Then 22.5. Then 21.9, such that the changes are incremental and they are not noticed.

Not only are you getting less food or product for your dollar, you are getting less bang for your buck at the gas station.

I just paid about $3.55 for gas locally. Currently, the national average is $3.67, higher than it's been since back in 2008. The day that Obama took office, gas was $1.86 a gallon.

Consider these comparisons from just 1960 to 2011:

Movies:           1960:  $0.75              2011:  $8.00
Bacon:             1960:  $0.79              2011:  $4.77
Hershey Bar:  1960:  $0.05              2011:  $1.00
Penn State:    1960:  $1,250.00       2011:  $42,098.00
Levi Jeans:      1960:  $5.00              2011:  $50.00
Milk:                1960:  $0.49              2011:  $3.99

Many folks are going back to the older days.  Gardens are popping up across America. Chicken houses now are tucked away behind nice homes. People are raising goats, sheep, and a cow or two. Once an almost-lost art, the canning of fruit has become fashionable again. People are cutting back on food from restaurants and focusing on making dinner from scratch. Consumers are realizing that food with a cellophane wrapper will never compare to food that God has wrapped with a peel.

Maybe inflation will force us back to what many still call, “the good ole days.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014



General Motors, the behemoth of the U.S. auto industry, is recalling millions more cars to repair faulty ignition switches that they knew about and now admit have killed at least thirteen innocent people.

At this point, they are recalling more cars than they are selling.

This, you recall, is one of the “too big to fail” businesses that our tax dollars bailed out. But, the bankruptcy of “Old GM” will likely block the legal claims of many of the victimized families. This is particularly vexing as they have known about the problems since 2004--several years prior to the reorganization. 

Basically, the ignition switch can be jostled out of the “run” position, due to pothole impacts, heavy key rings and the like. That causes a sudden loss of power steering, power brakes, acceleration, and—if the crash occurs—no air bag deployment.

The millions of cars being recalled is thought by many to be the direct result of attorney Lance Cooper, a solo practitioner in Georgia.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, Cooper’s depositions of GM engineers revealed the scope of the problem, and the auto engineers’ decade-long awareness of it.

Lawyers like me believe that the GM case is basically the poster-child case for why the civil-justice jury system is needed. It saves lives. It punishes corporate greed and callousness.

The government does not do enough to protect people. It cannot, by itself, and does not have the incentive to do so. But, with large contingent fees possible, a determined lawyer with a heart for justice can change everything. That is why dangerous medicines, and Pintos that catch fire on impact, are no longer sold.

A case that is indicative of the GM problem is one of a 29-year-old Georgia pediatric nurse who was driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt that suddenly lost power, and hit an oncoming car, killing her. The black box in the car indicated that power had been cut off. A wrongful death lawsuit accusing GM of negligence in designing, testing and manufacturing such a car and of failing to adequately warn consumers.

The case settled, but not before much was discovered. Congressional hearings have followed. People at GM were fired. Apologies have been made. Recalls have been issued. Millions of cars are being repaired. Lives are being saved.

But none of those things happen without the first: The lawsuit. One grieving family and a solo attorney can still make a difference in this world.  Remember that when you hear the justice system criticized. The life saved might well have been yours.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



Remember it?

Most do. Someone has ranked the O. J. Simpson white Bronco chase in the top ten most remembered television moments, among such events as the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion. It was June 17, 1994, to be precise.
There was other news, not of a legal variety, that you never heard about on June 17, 1994: The New York Knicks played game five of the NBA finals against the Houston Rockets in the Garden, and the networks cut away most of the game. Golf legend Arnold Palmer played his last round at the U.S. Open. In the NHL, the Rangers celebrated winning the Stanley Cup. In baseball, Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30. In entertainment, David Hasselhoff, of Knight Rider fame, was scheduled to perform a concert, hoping to reignite his singing career, on pay-per-view from Atlantic City. Domino’s Pizza delivery sales rivaled Super Bowl Sunday.

Simpson had a note that reportedly read: "To whom it may concern, first, everyone understand I had nothing to do with Nicole's murder. ... Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours.”

In the Bronco, police found thousands of dollars cash, a fake goatee and mustache with a bottle of makeup adhesive and receipts from a beauty store, along with Simpson's passport and a gun. I guess this is how innocent ex-husbands you know usually behave when their ex wives are murdered?

He was ultimately found not guilty. I think there is no doubt that he was guilty.

The line from the later criminal trial, “If it does not fit, you must acquit,” stated by his lead attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, has become famous in itself.

In the civil case, he was found to be “liable” for the murders and was hit with a multi-million dollar judgment which he chose not to pay.

I am told that you can rent the actual White Bronco at your event from an investor who reportedly paid $75,000 for it.

Indeed, this chase happened as we returned from our honeymoon, twenty years ago.
In those twenty years, much has changed.

Oh, and O.J. still found his way to prison.