wednesday, 22 november, 2000

Too tired for a sidebar today. The first half of this entry was written Tuesday, by the way.

Please know that I never intended to ignore this for so long, but time just got away from me this month.

Although it's certainly here with me now. It's 5:15 in the morning, and I've been up for an hour, woo-hoo. I've been having the most difficult time getting a good night's sleep lately. Usually I just have trouble falling asleep, but now I'm waking up at 4:00 in the morning. I've had bouts of sleeplessness on and off since college, but this is really starting to bother me, because I need to be able to focus at work, and I can't be yawning through the day.

I know what I need to do, and that is to start working out. That has usually helped more than anything else in the past. I suppose I could be working out right now!

Heh. Maybe I'm not so motivated after all.

So I'm now in week three at The Firm, and it's going wonderfully. (For those of you on my mailing list, please forgive me if I repeat myself.) I do have to be aware of what I say here because everything I do is covered by work product and attorney-client privilege rules, but I think I can give you some details without breaking any laws.

I've been assigned to the New York team, which means that I work on individual smoking and health cases filed in the New York City area. That class of cases is the most common -- they're individuals who smoked, got lung cancer, and sued. The tobacco companies are also sued by insurance companies and the government in reimbursement cases, where they want money back for smoking-related medical expenses they've paid for employees.

There are also what are known as Broin progeny cases. You may remember hearing about a class action lawsuit filed in Florida by flight attendants who claimed that working for years on planes where people could smoke caused them various and sundry health problems. The tobacco companies settled the class action suit, but part of the settlement allows everyone in the class to sue individually for compensatory damages only -- meaning they can only get what they've actually spent on their health care, plus pain and suffering, but no punitive damages. The deadline for filing was in September, so we're only starting to get an idea about what we'll be dealing with for the next few years.

Anyway, I will only have to deal with New York individual cases, of which there are currently about 250. My job is to help the partners and associates assigned to the cases prepare for trial. For example, today I will be putting together a notebook for an attorney going to New York on Monday to take the deposition of a third party fact witness. I have to track down the pleadings, the interrogatory answers, and the plaintiff's deposition, so the attorney can have that at hand during the witness depo. I will prepare a depo outline, a standard third-party witness format for questioning, but I will fill in answers that we have from other sources to see if this witness is consistent with them, and also see if there are any holes that need to be filled, and suggest questions that ought to be asked.

That's today. Fortunately, my exposure to anything close to a file room will be limited, because there are people whose sole job is to make copies of stuff. I use our various databases to find a location number for whatever paperwork I need, and then I can just call the happy tobacco file room people and they find it, copy it, and deliver it.

And God bless them, because I wouldn't last one day in that job. I've had an aversion to filing since forever. In fact, I worked in the trust department of a bank in college, and when I wrote to my old boss to let him know I was going to law school, he wrote back and made some joke about how I'd finally be able to get someone else to do my filing. I was horrified, since I must have been really bad for him to remember that after all those years.

"So let them say I was a boozer, at least I'm not a stinkin' sore loser...." -- Will Ferrell as Dubyuh (to the tune of "I Got You Babe"), on SNL

"Are they counting ballots or playing Bingo down there?" -- Steve Doocy, on Fox & Friends

I suppose I ought to toss in my two cents about the dimpled chads, the hanging chads, and God help us, the pregnant chads. I think actually that dimpled and pregnant means the same thing (depending only on which side of the chad you are looking at), although I don't think Webster's covers this distinction.

One thing you should know is that the idea that the Florida Supreme Court is "making new law" is the oldest spin tactic in the book. Courts, as you know, are charged with interpreting the law, and whoever is on the losing end of that decision always accuses the court of making new law. Yes, the court set a deadline that is not technically on the books, but that is within its discretion since the deadline that is on the books was like a week ago.

Other than that, I'm not really sure I care so much anymore. I'm a Democrat, but I was part of the base that Gore didn't energize. For pure entertainment value, I think Bush would probably provide more laughs. If he surrounds himself with smart people, I don't think he can do much damage.

Then I'll just wait around until 2004 and watch Rob Rummel-Hudson kick his ass.

So, I'm off to Chocolateville for Thanksgiving. My brother is there already, and I assigned him the task of finding our bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. Last year, we went all over town looking for it, and ended up with 1998's Beuajolais Nouveau, which we renamed "Beaujolais Vieux." (The hunt provided one of the highlights of that Thanksgiving weekend, which is when my mother sent us to a new liquor store she had seen called Sweet Spirit, and when we pulled up to it, it turned out to be a religious bookstore.) Beaujolais is the only red wine I truly enjoy, so it's become a tradition with my brother and me at Thanskgiving, even though it doesn't really go with turkey.

Anyway, I'm leaving in about two hours to go up to my friend Gillian's apartment. She lives about five minutes from the airport, so I'm going to leave my car there and get a cab from her place. Actually, I ought to go arrange for my cab right now, seeing as I am traveling on the busiest travel day of the year. So here's wishing you a juicy turkey, lumpy mashed potatoes (they're better that way), and nothing funny in the stuffing.

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