Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

June 27, 2016 | Publication| Historic Hotel, Restaurant & Nightclub Fires Provide Common Threads for Developing Significant Subrogation Recoveries

Dean S. Rauchwerger, Geoffrey M. Waguespack

This article was originally published in the Subrogator, a publication by the National Association of Subrogation Professionals, Spring/Summer, 2016. © Copyright 2016 by NASP. All rights reserved. Republished by Butler with permission from NASP.

Early tragedies, such as the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub and Winecoff Hotel fires, were the catalysts for the development of national fire safety codes and standards. Modern model codes and standards are promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association. They generally provide minimum fire protection standards.

Compliance with the codes and standards likely has saved countless lives over the decades. History tends to repeat itself, however, when lessons from the past are not learned, corners are cut, and the codes and standards are disregarded. For example, the 1980s witnessed no fewer than five major hotel fires. In November 1980, 87 people died at the MGM Grand Hotel fire in Nevada. One month later, in December 1980, 26 people died at the Stouffer’s Inn in New York. Three months later, in February 1981, a fire at the Las Vegas Hilton killed eight people and injured 600, hospitalizing 300 people. In March 1982, a fire at the Westchase Hilton in Houston, Texas, killed 12 people. On New Year’s Eve 1986, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a fire at the DuPont Plaza Hotel killed 97 people, caused over 140 injuries. These fires collectively resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of property damages.

The case studies below provide valuable insights for developing fire recovery theories. Clarence Darrow recognized: “History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.” Until history’s lessons are learned, hotel, restaurant, and nightclub fires will persist, and recovery opportunities abound!

Cocoanut Grove Nightclub (Boston, MA 1942)

The Cocoanut Grove Nightclub was one of Boston’s foremost clubs during the 1930s and 1940s. Tied to the mafia, the club’s owner routinely locked and concealed exits, and even bricked one emergency exit to inhibit scarpers. 

On Thanksgiving weekend in 1942, the club hosted a holiday party crammed at over triple the maximum capacity. Although causation was undetermined, reports state that a guest removed a corner light bulb. While reinstalling the bulb, an employee likely lit a match, igniting a decorative tree. The fire quickly spread along walls and flammable decorations, propagating upstairs and across the dance floor, engulfing the crowd within seconds.

The club did not have a fire suppression system, and there were no sprinklers or fire extinguishers handy. As guests fled, they found exit doors bolted shut or boarded. The only exit was a single revolving door, which people immobilized by pressing against both sides. The fire killed 492 people and injured countless hundreds more, becoming the second deadliest building fire in U.S. history.

The Titanic of Hotels: The “Absolutely Fireproof” Winecoff Hotel (Atlanta, GA 1946)

The Winecoff Hotel was constructed in 1913. The hotel’s stationery advertised the hotel as “absolutely fireproof.” Accordingly, the hotel owners did not install sprinklers, fire escapes, or an alarm system in the 15-story building. 

On December 7, 1946, the hotel was filled to capacity with more than 280 guests. According to reports, at approximately 3:00 a.m., an elevator operator smelled smoke on the fifth floor and descended to the lobby, exclaiming: “Fire!” By that time, floors three, four, and five were already engulfed in flames. The cause of the fire remains unclear, although there is speculation that a careless patron dropped a cigarette onto a mattress, igniting the blaze.

As designed, the hotel was a deathtrap. The stairwell and elevator shafts—the only means of egress—ran straight through the middle of the building. Doors leading to the stairwells on several floors and many transoms above guest rooms were open, forming a giant chimney and allowing smoke and flames to be pulled inward and upward rapidly through the middle of the perfectly square hotel. With the only exit impassable, guests fled back to their rooms, where many just hopelessly awaited their fate while other chose a quicker demise.

The Winecoff Hotel fire remains the worst hotel fire on U.S. soil. Nearly half of the guests—119 people—perished in the blaze.

Beverly Hills Supper Club (Southgate, KY 1977)

The Beverly Hills Supper Club was a popular nightspot, showcasing attractions from Hollywood, Las Vegas and New York. The club boasted a “non-combustible” frame and ceiling tiling, but substantially used wooden building materials and connecting joints. The carpeted club was adorned with highly flammable decorations and wooden wall paneling. Rooms were packed with wooden tables, supports, curtains, and other combustibles.

No sprinkler system was installed, and the contemporary local fire regulations did not require one. The club also lacked smoke detectors and fire alarms.

During a Cabaret Room show on May 28, 1977, the club hosted 3,200 guests, about 1,500 over capacity. A small, smoldering fire—likely a result of faulty electrical wiring—began in a dropped ceiling where a wedding reception was taking place. Once wait staff opened the door to allow guest to enter, oxygen flooded the room, causing flashover. The fire engulfed the room, spreading rapidly along the wooden ceilings and walls. The flashover was so fast that guests were found in their seats with drinks in their hands.

The club did not have a fire alarm, so news of the fire spread through word-of-mouth as employees sprinted to distant ends of the large building. The limited number of exits prevented escape, and many people perished due to smoke inhalation at the doorways leading away from the Club. The fire killed 165 people and wounded over 200.

MGM Grand Hotel (Las Vegas, NV 1980)

The MGM Grand Hotel was a 23-story luxury hotel and casino. On November 21, 1980, the hotel hosted approximately 5,000 people. That morning, a fire broke out in the “Deli,” a hotel restaurant. The fire quickly spread through the casino and smoke spread into the hotel tower. Most of the damage was to the second floor casino and adjacent restaurants.

The fire and smoke killed 87 people (many in their sleep) and injured 700. Most deaths occurred on the upper floors of the hotel, caused by smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The investigation revealed that an electrical ground fault inside a wall socket at a pastry display case caused the fire. The fire spread through the lobby, igniting wallpaper, piping, glue, and plastic. The fire spread through the casino at a rate of 15 to 19 feet per second because there were no sprinklers. The hotel believed that sprinklers were not necessary, because the hotel was open 24/7. The speed of the fire spread resulted in a massive fireball blowing out the main entrance on the Vegas Strip.

Openings in vertical shafts, such as elevators, stairwells, and seismic joints permitted smoke and toxic fumes to spread to the top floor. Faulty smoke dampers in the ventilation duct system exacerbated the spread of poisonous gases through the hotel’s air circulation system. Locked doors in stairwells trapped people in toxic fumes.

The fire was contained within the casino and restaurant areas. Damage was minimized in areas where the money was kept, which had functioning sprinkler systems.

Prior to the fire, the building inspector exempted the casino and restaurants from having sprinklers because they were supposed to be occupied 24 hours a day. When the fire broke out in the restaurant, however, it was no longer open 24 hours a day. At the time of the fire, it was closed and unoccupied.

Dupont Plaza Hotel (San Juan, Puerto Rico 1986)

The Dupont Plaza Hotel was a 22-story resort hotel and casino.  The hotel included a 17-story tower with 423 guest rooms.

On December 31, 1986, at approximately 3:00 p.m., arsonists set fire to a six-foot pile of plastic-wrapped chairs, dressers, and packing material in an empty, first-floor ballroom, where there were no smoke or heat detectors, alarms, or sprinklers. The hotel housed more than 400 employees and about 1,000 guests, over 250 of whom were gambling in the second floor casino. Within 20 to 30 minutes of the fire’s ignition, 97 people had died and over 140 others were injured. The fire department did not receive a call from the hotel until 3:40 p.m.

A hotel executive first noticed the fire when he saw smoke billowing up a stairwell. The executive descended to the lower level and discovered the ballroom ablaze. The fire ignited the carpeting and wall covers. It spread through gaps between the structural and drop ceilings, hiding from view flames and toxic smoke that surrounded the casino. The inferno broke windows between the ballroom and foyer. The breakage occurred during a flashover, which allowed dense smoke to flow into the foyer and reach the lobby and casino. Thick smoke and heat extended from the lobby to the casino, blocking the casino’s main exit, where many gamblers congregated.

It was estimated that the fire swept through the lobby and the casino in about eight minutes after it was discovered. The oxygen released from windows broken by people escaping fueled the flames. Virtually every combustible in the fire’s path ignited within 20 seconds, as the flame front swept through the casino at a rate of about six feet per second. At 1200 degrees, people literally exploded.

The hotel’s air conditioning unit exacerbated the fire, as clouds of smoke particles built up and ignited suddenly. The air itself exploded.

The hotel’s 17-story tower did not have sprinklers, and the fire alarm system did not work. Although the smoke from the casino fire billowed up the tower, many of the guests were not aware of the fire until they saw it, smelled it, heard someone shout “Fire,” or heard firefighters responding. No smoke detectors or sprinklers were located in the corridors leading to guest rooms. There were no smoke detectors, sprinklers, or alarms in guest rooms. Elevators were not equipped with fire department access or recall doors, smoke detectors, or sprinkler protection. One stairway did not have a door separating it from the main lobby, allowing heat, smoke, and fire to infiltrate it.

The first and second floors of the hotel, especially the ballroom, foyer, lobby, and casino, suffered the most damage. Although adjacent to the ballroom, the tower was mostly undamaged by fire, but suffered significant smoke and soot damage.

Station Nightclub (West Warwick, RI 2003)

On February 20, 2003, the Station Nightclub was hosting a heavy metal band performance. The intoxicated, youthful crowd well exceeded capacity. During the band’s opening song, devices sprayed sparks to enhance visuals. Almost instantly, the acoustic foam lining the stage ignited. The fire on the extremely flammable urethane and plyethlyne foam spread quickly, engulfing the crowd in thick sheets of toxic smoke.

When the fire alarm sounded, the revelers stampeded towards the only available exit. Video footage depicts a deadlock at the door due to pressure from individuals pushing from behind. One hundred people lost their lives, with over 230 others injured by burns or smoke inhalation. The local fire code required a sprinkler system, but no sprinklers were installed during renovations due to improper paperwork that ignored local codes and misled officials.

Collectiv Nightclub (Bucharest, Romania 2015)

Most recently, an October 30, 2015 fire at the Collectiv Nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, killed 63 people and wounded over 180. Like the Station Nightclub fire, a heavy metal band’s pyrotechnics ignited the club’s flammable polyurethane acoustic foam. The fire spread rapidly throughout the club, covering the walls and ceiling. Thick, black smoke caused immediate suffocation and many individuals fell in their tracks.

The overly-packed crowd stampeded towards the single, narrow exit, which the crush of people largely blocked. The fire suppression system consisted of a single fire extinguisher, no sprinklers, and no emergency exits.

The Common Thread: Fire Spread

Besides the extreme tragedy and immense loss of life and property, all of these events have something in common. They illustrate how even small fires can become large fires with astounding speed. They are examples of how the failure to employ proper fire detection, fire proofing, suppression, and containment allows fire to spread at unbelievable rates.

The common thread to each of these events is fire spread due to the failure to suppress the fire. Automatic sprinklers are paramount to fire suppression. Properly installed and maintained automatic fire suppression systems likely would have limited fire spread. Adequate sprinkler systems generally suppress fires before they reach fatal intensity levels by significantly diminishing the changes of exceedingly high temperatures, as they cool the room. When sprinklers go off, the fire could not be concealed in its early stages; there would be no build-up of heat, no flashover, and no inferno.

Sprinklers go hand-in-hand with fire detection and containment. State of the art systems can operate through a central computer, monitoring thousands of locations within an establishment and initiate hundreds of life safety actions.

When assessing subrogation potential after a fire, consider the issue of fire spread. Even if the cause of the fire is undetermined or your insured is at fault, recovery opportunities loom if the fire spread is a result of inadequate or improperly maintained fire suppression and detection systems, or inadequate containment and excessively flammable materials.

Subrogation investigations should consider the work performed by the companies responsible for designing, installing, and maintaining the fire protection systems. For example, the investigation should explore whether the system was designed properly for the layout and function of the facility; whether the proper types of sprinkler heads and detection equipment were installed and done so properly; and whether the systems were properly maintained through proper testing, including any necessary integrated testing. In some instances, the contractor responsible for ongoing maintenance has the duty to inform the insured of inadequacies in the system, even if the contractor did not originally design the system or is not ultimately responsible for implementing changes.

Winston Churchill once said that “those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs get larger, more popular, and overly crowded, history must be the best fire safety teacher for the owners and operators. Fire codes and standards are meant to curb property damage and to save lives. If codes and standards are ignored, history will, as it did in 2015 in Bucharest, repeat itself with tragic deaths and substantial property losses. Being mindful of such recurring fire safety and protection failures is vital in developing significant subrogation recovery opportunities for hotel, restaurant and nightclub fires.

Dean S. Rauchwerger

A Partner at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Chicago, IL. Dean practices in our Aviation, Casualty Defense Litigation, Product Liability, and Subrogation & Recovery departments.

Geoffrey M. Waguespack

A Senior Associate at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP Chicago, IL. Geoffrey practices in our Appellate, Construction, Employment Law, Product Liability, and Subrogation & Recovery departments.

Jonathan M. Levy

An Associate at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Chicago, IL. Jonathan practices in our Product Liability and Subrogation & Recovery departments.

February 01, 2018 PublicationA Theoretical Safety on the Trigger of the Duty to Defend

The Eleventh Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals recently decided Selective Insurance Company of the Southeast v. William P. White Racing Stables, Inc., et al., 2017 WL 6368843 (December 13, 2017), a case addressing limits upon what facts and legal theories may give rise to a duty to defend. In an unpublished opinion,[1] the court held the district court erred in finding a duty to defend based upon a theory of liability which was not pled, even though it agreed the facts alleged in the complaint could support a claim apparently within the scope of coverage provided by the liability policy.

Read More »
September 20, 2017 PublicationFlorida Insurance Litigation (2017 Edition)

LexisNexis Practice Guide: Florida Insurance Litigation provides the practitioner with immediate access to knowledge and strategy on every aspect of insurance practice in Florida. The publication concisely presents the terms, conditions and exclusions that govern coverage offered against the risks under each line of insurance. This approach provides a comprehensive exploration of key concepts, policy language and insight for litigation of common and esoteric disputes under those policies. Each chapter also provides task-oriented checklists, examples, strategic points, and cross-references to governing statutory and case law.

Read More »
July 27, 2017 PublicationTRIAL ESSENTIALS: KEYS TO NOT LOSING YOUR JURY TRIAL BEFORE THE FIRST WITNESS IS CALLED

Sun-Tzu is a well-recognized and oft-quoted Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher. He is also credited as the author of The Art of War.1 While the title clearly identifies that book as having much to do with actual war, Sun-Tzu’s philosophy translates to many different fields of application. One such field of application is the preparation for and litigation involved with a jury trial. Most specifically applicable is the Sun-Tzu quote that “every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.” Before your jury trial even begins, the actions that most impact the results obtained are the preparation of the jury instructions, the preparation of the pretrial stipulation, the preparation of motions in limine, and the intricacies involved in the jury selection process.

Read More »
July 14, 2017 PublicationFlorida Water Loss Claims: What's Owed, And When?

Water loss lawsuits have spiked dramatically in Florida during the past few years. Insurers simply cannot resolve the unusually large differences in water damage estimates. Scope of estimated matching work usually explains the disparity. And litigation ensues over this hypothetical question: Can the water-damaged or tear out items be replaced and then matched to undamaged adjoining items; and if not, what is the proper scope of the matching work?
 

Read More »
June 27, 2017 PublicationButler Quarterly - Spring
Read More »
June 16, 2017 PublicationLiterature for Life

What does reading literature have to do with the mission of DRI for Life? Some might suggest reading that we read mostly as pleasurable respite or for entertainment. That certainly is true in the cases of, say, mystery stories or romance novels. But I say reading real literature is more, and more essential to life, than that.

Read More »
April 21, 2017 PublicationTort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Winter 2017

View Bill Lewis, John Garaffa, and Sarah Burke's newest contributions to the ABA's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal. This comprehensive PDF explains recent developments in property insurance law.

Read More »
February 23, 2017 PublicationIs It Hot in Here? Significant Recovery Opportunities with Boiler Failures

Water boiler failures provide significant recovery opportunities. By understanding how these relatively simple systems work, one can realize that recovery potential and identify the probable failures modes, skillfully directing the recovery investigation, and asserting the proper legal theories that afford recovery.

Read More »
February 22, 2017 PublicationPennsylvania – VOIDED Terms and Conditions: Unlawful and Unconscionable Exculpatory Clauses

How many of your subrogation claims have been closed because of the subrogation killing terms and conditions of a contract? A recent decision in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, United States District Court found in favor of a subrogating insurance carrier and held that the terms and conditions barring recovery were both unlawfully drafted and unconscionable, thus allowing the subrogating carrier to move forward with its subrogation claim. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., a/s/o Sara Rivera v. Petroleum Heat & Power Co., Inc., 2016 WL 5816182 (E.D. Penn. October 5, 2016).

Read More »
February 06, 2017 PublicationThe Confession-of-Judgment Doctrine: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Virtually every jurisdiction in the United States has a statute on the books that provides for prevailing-party attorney fees in favor of insureds when they are successful in coverage suits against insurers.

Read More »
January 27, 2017 PublicationWhen Pipes Go Pop

Although we may not see the historic low temperatures associated with the polar vortex of 2014, the winter season always brings with it an influx of freeze-related claims. Notably, the involvement of Mother Nature does not automatically preclude a subrogation recovery, and these types of claims should be triaged promptly and efficiently in order to avoid overlooking subrogation potential.

Read More »
January 26, 2017 PublicationDamages Proof in Subrogation Cases

In the past few years, savvy defense lawyers have taken a more inquisitive approach on the valuation of subrogation damages across all lines of insurance. Gone are the days of assuming the damages must be right because no carrier wants to pay more than they should.

Read More »
January 03, 2017 PublicationIf you invade someone's privacy with a drone, your insurance might not cover it

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial systems, can be equipped with cameras, thermal scanners, license plate readers and facial-recognition software.

Read More »
November 21, 2016 PublicationBoom! Maximizing Recoveries in Catastrophic Explosions

An explosion is an extraordinary event that forever changes the psyche of those affected. The bigger the scale of the explosion, the bigger the challenges are to move forward and to develop viable recovery claims. It is a dilemma that requires sophisticated leadership and seasoned subrogation counsel, forensic consultants, and loss adjusters.

Read More »
October 18, 2016 PublicationFollow Up on Assignment of Benefits Litigation in Florida

In the summer of 2016, SLA published an article titled "Assignment of Benefit Litigation in Florida." The article was an introduction to the topic of assignments of benefits ("AOB") in Florida and how they are being used in insurance claims and litigation. Many readers asked for a follow up article that would provide some additional information and analysis on certain AOB topics. This article will spotlight four of those topics and give the reader some additional information and analysis on each of them.

Read More »
October 10, 2016 PublicationWho, What, When, and How Much? Key Questions to Ask When Faced With a Potential Sovereign Immunity Defense

With each new claim we navigate a myriad of potential obstacles to recovery.  As subrogation professionals, we work to quickly identity these issues and evaluate the best recovery strategy.  In doing so, some obstacles may first appear insurmountable, but later give way to the ever diligent subrogation professional.  One such obstacle is the concept of sovereign immunity.

Read More »
September 08, 2016 PublicationAdjuster Tools for Water Losses

Hmm, a water loss claim. Lots of those lately. She looked further and saw it was actually two claims. Two water loss claims within one week of each other. One, a loss in the bathroom when a pipe underneath the sink burst and the other was a kitchen loss from a broken p-trap.

Read More »
August 11, 2016 PublicationIn Hot Pursuit: Strategies for Pursuing Subrogation Against Wildfire Damages

Each year, wildland fires scorch millions of acres of brush and timber, damage tens of thousands of homes and commercial properties, cost federal and local governments billions of dollars in suppression efforts, and cost insurance companies hundreds of millions in property insurance proceeds.

Read More »
June 24, 2016 PublicationAssignment of Benefits Litigation in Florida

Over the past five years, first-party property insurers in Florida have been experiencing a wave of claims and lawsuits by contractors who obtain insurance rights from insureds through document called an assignment of benefits ("AOB"). This article is intended to introduce the reader to this topic and explain some of the challenges facing insurers in dealing with AOBs in Florida. The reader is welcome to contact the author to learn more.

Read More »
June 21, 2016 PublicationThe Inadequacies of the Diminution of Value Approach to Damages to Real Property in Tort Claims

Generally speaking, the purpose of tort damages is to make an injured party whole and restore the injured party, as nearly as reasonably possible, to the position in which he or she would have held absent the injury. When dealing with damages sustained to real property, most jurisdictions provide that the cost to repair the property is the proper measure of damage so long as the cost to repair does not exceed the diminution in value, which is the difference between the fair market value immediately before and immediately after the damages are sustained.

Read More »
June 08, 2016 PublicationBUTLER ON DRONES: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR INSURERS

As one of the nation’s most preeminent jurists put it, domestication of horses did not give rise to a “law of the horse,” and the rise of the Internet era did not give rise to a “law of cyberspace.”1 Likewise, the proliferation of drones will not give rise to a new area of law called “drone law.” What will happen instead is much more complex.

Read More »
March 07, 2016 PublicationGood Faith, Bad Faith: A Legal View

The purpose of Good Faith/Bad Faith is to serve as a compendium of general information insurers may wish to use as part of the development of their own individual claims-handling procedures; however, Good Faith/Bad Faith neither sets forth any particular practice or policy as a recommendation or best practice nor does it represent a compilation of widely followed procedures.

Read More »
September 28, 2015 PublicationKeep The Faith: Whether The Attorney-Client Privilege Applies In Third-Party Bad Faith Actions

One of the most rapidly developing issues in Florida and in courts around the country is whether the attorney-client privilege can be relied on by an insurer in a third-party bad faith action. The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest confidential communication privileges in Florida.

Read More »
July 07, 2013 PublicationLow Liability vs. High Demand: Overcoming the Aggressive Plaintiff Attorney's Delusions of Grandeur for Policy Limits" Primerus Corporate Client e-Newsletter,

For a copy of the publication please contact Josh Golembe.

Read More »
July 01, 2013 PublicationCorporate Tort Liability under the Alien Tort Statute Post-Kiobel, 21 U. Miami Bus. L. Rev. 281

ATS cases.' The court entered into uncharted and controversial territory' though, as it attempted to deal with a claim made by a group of Nigerian plaintiffs who alleged that "Dutch, British, and Nigerian corporations engaged in oil exploration and production aided and abetted the Nigerian government in committing violations of the law of nations"' so as to promote their exploratory efforts.' In ultimately determining that corporate liability does not exist under the ATS,' the Second Circuit majority misconstrued its own precedent and that of other circuits, the Supreme Court's interpretation of the ATS in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain,o the principles and goals of international law, scholarly commentary, and the earliest available interpretations of the ATS. The plaintiffs sought review in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read More »
January 01, 2010 Publication"Alien Smuggling: Do Not Be an Alien to the Law!" Florida Defender, Volume 23, No. 3, Fall 2010

For a copy of the publication please contact Josh Golembe.

Read More »
September 01, 2006 PublicationMost Favored Nation Clauses – "The Ultimate Double Edged Sword"

Until a few years ago, the term “Most Favored Nation” was a phrase restricted primarily to the world of international trade. However, with the upsurge in both class action and mass tort lawsuits, Most Favored Nation clauses (MFN), are increasingly used as a tool to encourage settlement.

Read More »
March 29, 2004 PublicationDanger Zone: Planning Ahead To Avoid Legal Malpractice

Claims for legal malpractice are exploding. Malpractice insurance is getting more difficult to obtain, and when you can find a carrier, rates are, in some cases, prohibitive. Claims of legal malpractice have no bounds: they cut across many different practice areas. Real estate, transactional lawyers, trial lawyers, general practitioners – all have been (and will continue to be) targets for legal malpractice actions.

Read More »
November 01, 2002 PublicationThe Contagion of Example: Attacking the Root of the Problem in Lawyer Professionalism

Now is the time to stop talking and start acting! In the legal professionalism debate, many scholars hope, through their own unique contributions, to spark some universal epiphany that will initiate pervasive change. But a workable solution remains amorphous; the context of the problem is in constant flux and scholars feel the need to continually approach it in a “modernized” framework. Admittedly, unique perspective is an important tool for learning the intricacies of any problem, but incessantly approaching an old problem with fresh insight becomes tiresome and counterproductive . . . especially when there is no evidence of change. If we continue to merely discuss professionalism, then we will remain mired in tautology disguised as intellectual insight.

Read More »
PublicationThe Future of Defending Lawsuits: E-Business Enters the Civil Litigation Arena

What do FedEx, Northern Trust Bank, Ford Motor Co. and ACE USA have in common? Each is turning to a new browser technology, the Extranet, to advance their business through the use of electronic communication. The primary tool that will be used for the efficient and cost­effective transmission of all information associated with the handling of claims in the future (the future is now) is an Extranet. Extranets have been driven to the forefront of attention in and surely qualify as one of the Internet buzzwords du jour.

If the use of an Extranet, however, does not save time and expense in the defense of civil litigation while at the same time improving the quality of the legal representation provided, it should not be considered as a "tool" whose time has come.

Read More »