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We celebrate RDM's administrative professionals on Administrative Professionals' Day.

Today is Administrative Professionals’ Day, and we want to take the opportunity to celebrate the outstanding administrative professionals here at Rasmussen Dickey Moore!

For the uninitiated, Administrative Professionals’ Day recognizes and appreciates the individuals who are most responsible for “making the world go round.” Their tireless contributions ensure that deadlines are met, work gets completed timely, and businesses succeed. It is through their dedication and commitment that business goals are realized.

Celebrating administrative professionals began with an official day of recognition in 1952. However, the National Secretaries Association (now the International Association of Administrative Professionals) had been promoting and recognizing this important work since its founding in 1942 in Topeka, Kansas. Since the beginning, the IAAP has been dedicated to helping and promoting its members in ever-changing times to meet the constantly changing demands of business.

Today, administrative professionals can be found in nearly any business environment performing a host of tasks. They are the people to greet visitors at the door and makes the first impression of the company. They coordinate meetings, travel arrangements, and other events to make sure everything flows smoothly.

In the legal profession, our admins file pleadings, proofread discovery, and field client inquiries. They maintain our attorneys’ calendars and schedules to ensure that attorneys are on time to their appointments and hearings. They essentially operate as extensions of the attorneys themselves in all aspects of a law firm.

But the worth of every administrative professional is so much more than their work in the office. They provide valuable insight to the workplace, and their experience with what makes businesses succeed is second to none. They are so much more than employees—they are key partners in a company’s overall success.

RDM’s Administrative Professionals Are Dedicated

At Rasmussen Dickey Moore, we recognize and appreciate the incredible work that our administrative professionals deliver. Amongst our admins, we have:

  • Four who have been with us more than 1 year
  • Eight who have been with us more than 5 years
  • Five who have been with us more than 10 years
  • Two who have been with us more than 15 years
  • And two who have been with us more than 20 years!

Their success is our success. So with the utmost gratitude from RDM, we thank each and every administrative professional for all that you do on this Administrative Professionals’ Day. Thank you!

A Georgia courthouse. The Georgia CVS LLC vs. Carmichael case will be heard in the Georgia Court of Appeals.

On April 14, a three-member panel of the Georgia Court of Appeals heard arguments in a case that could have nationwide implications for businesses operating in neighborhoods with high crime rates. In Georgia CVS Pharmacy, LLC v. Carmichael, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain seeks to reverse a $45 million jury verdict awarded to James Carmichael after he was shot several times in a store parking lot.

CVS Pharmacy, LLC v. Carmichael: The Case At Hand

A few days before Christmas in 2012, Carmichael had traveled from Alabama to Atlanta to purchase an iPad from a prospective seller. The agreed-upon location was a CVS parking lot. Carmichael invited the prospective seller into his car. When the sale fell through and the seller exited, another person entered Carmichael’s car and pulled a gun, demanding his money. Carmichael was able to grab his own gun and fire two shots before it jammed. The other man returned fire, striking Carmichael in the arm and stomach before fleeing. He was never apprehended. Carmichael believes the seller was an accomplice of the shooter and the transaction was a robbery set-up. The incident was not visible to anyone outside the vehicle.

Could CVS Have Foreseen This Incident?

A key issue at trial was foreseeability. In premises liability cases, a plaintiff seeking to establish foreseeability of a criminal attack generally needs to establish that the incident is substantially similar to prior criminal activities occurring on or near the premise, so that a reasonable company would take precautions to protect its customers from that type of activity. Carmichael presented evidence that there had been two robberies inside the CVS store, with one occurring three weeks before the shooting. The only prior crime in the CVS parking lot was a purse snatching. Carmichael also presented evidence that CVS workers feared for their safety in the dark parking lot because of loiterers. After a nearly week-long trial, the jury returned a verdict of $45 million in damages, allocating only 5% of fault to Carmichael and 95% of responsibility to CVS. The jury did not apportion any fault to the shooter or his alleged accomplice despite them being on the verdict form.

On appeal, CVS argues that the foreseeability evidence was insufficient as a matter of law, citing cases holding that (1) an in-store robbery of a grocery store employee was not substantially similar to an assault of its customer in the parking lot and (2) evidence of crimes in a bar’s parking lot did not show that a dangerous condition existed inside the bar. According to CVS, the prior criminal incidents occurred at a substantially different location and under different circumstances. Therefore, the pharmacy chain asserts, the trial court erred in not granting it summary judgment.

CVS’s Appeal: Was Carmichael an Invitee?

CVS’s appeal contains three additional arguments why reversal is warranted, including that the trial court’s refusal to give a “prior relationship” charge where there was evidence that the prospective seller and shooter had a prior relationship and had acted in concert. At trial Carmichael’s own security expert conceded it appeared the failed electronics sale was a planned set-up to rob Carmichael. In addition, it argues that the jury apportioned zero percent of fault to the shooter for Carmichael’s severe injuries constitutes a fundamental error, making the entire verdict void and unenforceable. Finally, CVS argues that at the time of the shooting, Carmichael was at most a licensee who was owed a lesser duty, which was not breached. In response, Carmichael argues that CVS waived this argument by conceding at trial that he was an invitee, because he intended to shop inside the store after the electronics transaction. But even if he was just a licensee, he maintains that the store still owed him a duty of ordinary care, which included providing adequate security to prevent assaults in its parking lot.

Beyond the Verdict: Effects on Underserved Communities

A decision by the appellate court is expected later this year. Should it affirm the jury’s verdict, the implications for businesses operating in high-crime areas could be severe, putting businesses that are vital to urban communities in an impossible position.

Businesses operating in these areas will undoubtedly have to determine whether they can afford enhanced security measures or risk facing an eight-figure verdict. In addition, insurance companies that insure them will certainly conduct their own reviews to determine whether to increase policy premiums and perhaps whether to cancel coverage altogether, lest they be hit with an excessive eight-figure verdict.

These external costs could likely result in businesses shutting down or simply relocating to safer areas, an unfortunate outcome that would only cause more hardship to underserved urban areas already plagued by food deserts and general disinvestment. Although these economic policy reasons do not constitute legal arguments being considered by the three-member panel, unintended economic consequences will most likely result if CVS is forced to pay $45 million for injuries caused by a shooting inside a car that just happened to have been parked in its lot.

The case caption is Georgia CVS Pharmacy, LLC v. James Carmichael, No. A21A0677 (Ga. App. 2021). Read more about the verdict or view an archive of oral arguments.

Noah Wilson, the inspiration for Noah's Bandage Project.

Rasmussen Dickey Moore’s attorneys and staff are dedicated to providing focused service day in and day out to our clients across a broad range of industries. But many of our team members are dedicated to service beyond the office walls, going above and beyond to help make the world a better place.

RDM’s Accounts Payable Specialist Martha Strahler has one such cause she stands behind. As a volunteer with Noah’s Bandage Project, Martha raises funds and awareness for children’s cancer research and supports kids battling with debilitating cancer treatment.

About Noah’s Bandage Project

Noah Wilson and Kansas City Royals pitcher Danny Duffy, a supporter of Noah's Bandage Project.

Noah Wilson was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, at just six years old. Facing daily prods and pokes throughout constant testing and treatment, Noah wished simply for some fun bandages instead of the plain brown strips the hospital kept on hand. Surrounded by other children combatting cancer, all dressed in the same hospital gowns and showing the hair loss and other symptoms of cancer treatment, Noah believed that unique bandages would be seen as a flash of individuality and a badge of honor for the courageous kids battling their frightening diagnoses. With that, Noah began a campaign to collect fun bandages for other children in cancer treatment. To date, Noah’s Bandage Project has collected nearly 7 million bandages.

Though Noah’s initial cancer went into remission, the chemotherapy treatment caused a secondary case of leukemia, from which Noah passed away in 2015. The struggle demonstrated the need for more pediatric cancer research. Only 4% of national cancer research funding goes to pediatric cancer research, and Noah’s Bandage Project has raised over $1 million in an attempt to bridge that divide.

A Family Affair

Martha became involved with Noah’s Bandage Project thanks to her son, Paul Long, who serves as the president of the Noah’s Bandage Project board of directors.

Paul got to know Noah via a shared fandom of the Kansas City Royals. As one-half of the “Cat Suit Guys” duo, Paul was among the most visible fans during the Royals’ 2014 playoff run. Paul and his cat suit cohort John used their spotlight to help bring attention to younger fans, including Noah, giving them opportunities to attend playoff games and meet their favorite players.

Noah's parents Scott and Deb Wilson presenting a check from Noah's Bandage Project to Children's Mercy Hospital Kansas City.

After Noah’s passing, Paul helped to establish Noah’s Bandage Project as an independent non-profit. Alongside her son, Martha has volunteered in support of the organization as they continue to raise funds for research and distribute fun bandages to hospitalized children. In addition to donating funds, Martha also helps to organize bandage drives and send collected bandages to children across the world. She’s even had the opportunity to introduce young patients to some of their Royals heroes, including Danny Duffy and Eric Hosmer.

Martha can also regularly be found volunteering at Noah’s Bandage Project events, such as the upcoming Noah’s Bandage Run 5K in Overland Park, Kansas, as well as golf tournaments and the Volley Llama pickleball tournament.

Noah’s Bandage Project always welcomes donations. You can also organize your own bandage drive to provide hope and fun hospitalized children.

The Johnson & Johnson verdict was delivered at the Civil Courts Building in Downtown St. Louis, MO. Photo by Tom Lampe.

Johnson & Johnson is looking to strike a blow to one of the more infamous verdicts in the City of St. Louis. While St. Louis has long had a reputation for plaintiff-friendly decisions, the largest verdict by far was $4.69 billion against Johnson & Johnson for 22 plaintiffs in July 2018.

In the summer of 2020, the verdict was upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals. On November 3rd, 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. in Robert Ingham et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al. The courts let stand a state appellate decision which affirmed a $2.2 billion jury verdict against the consumer giant and for women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson called the trial verdict “fundamentally flawed” and “at odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming [their products were] safe.” They vowed to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.

In March 2021, Johnson & Johnson filed a petition on three issues related to the verdict: whether consolidating 22 plaintiffs into a single case violated due process; whether the punitive damages award was unconstitutional in light of the actual compensatory award; and whether the trial court actually had personal jurisdiction in the case.

The particular issues raised by Johnson & Johnson highlight many of the concerns raised over the years with Plaintiff friendly procedures in St. Louis. Only five of the 22 plaintiffs resided in Missouri. Other than suing the same defendant for the same product, their cases had little in common. These practices have become commonplace in Missouri and are likely to continue without a ruling from the Supreme Court that would change the current litigation climate.

Continue reading Johnson & Johnson Appeals Landmark St. Louis Verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court
Equal Justice Under the Law inscription on the United States Supreme Court building.

On March 25, 2021, the US Supreme Court ruled that Ford Motor Company is subject to personal jurisdiction in a state lawsuit alleging injuries from a car accident that occurred in the state, even if the car was manufactured and originally sold in another state. In Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, et al, the Court provided additional clarity in determining if the connection between a plaintiff’s claims and a non-resident defendant’s activities in the forum state are close enough to support specific jurisdiction.  

Before the Court were two separate Ford cases, one from Montana and one from Minnesota, where in-state plaintiffs claimed injuries from allegedly defective Ford vehicles that were designed, manufactured, and originally sold out of state. Ford, a nonresident of both states, argued it could not be sued in either state because the company’s alleged harmful conduct all occurred elsewhere. The cars at issue were re-sold and re-located by consumers to the respective forum states. Ford argued that there must be a causal link locating jurisdiction only in the states where Ford sold the cars, or where the cars were designed and manufactured. Both states’ supreme courts rejected Ford’s argument, holding that the company’s activities had the needed connection to the plaintiff’s allegations that a defective Ford vehicle caused in-state injuries.

Writing for the Court, Justice Elena Kagan rejected Ford’s “causation-only” approach, holding that the connection between the plaintiffs’ claims and Ford’s activities in the forum state is close enough to support specific jurisdiction. In doing so, the Court reaffirmed its 2017 landmark ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, et al, which held that to be subject to specific jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s claims “must arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the forum.  Focusing on the word “or,” the Court explained that the requirement of a “connection” between a plaintiff’s suit and a defendant’s activities extends beyond causality. More than one state can have specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, particularly one that has a “non-causal affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy,” i.e. an accident occurring inside the state and that involves a nonresident defendant’s product.

The impact that the Ford Motor Co. decision will have on pending and future personal jurisdiction disputes is uncertain. But there is little confusion that Bristol-Myers remains the law of the land. As the Court explained, “Bristol-Myers … reinforce[s] all that the Court has said about why Montana’s and Minnesota’s courts may decide these cases.” Distinguishing the two casesthe Court pointed out that personal jurisdiction was not proper in Bristol-Myers because there was no connection between the forum state, the defendant’s activities there, and the plaintiff’s claims. Unlike the present case, in Bristol-Myers the plaintiffs were not residents of the forum state, the products did not malfunction in the forum state, and the injuries did not occur in the forum state. What Ford Motor Co. makes clear is that the place of a plaintiff’s injury and residence can determine whether a forum state can exercise specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, even if the product at issue was designed, manufactured, distributed, and sold in other states.  If a state resident is injured by a defendant’s product in the forum state, the state court may entertain the resulting suit regardless of where the product was made or sold.  

Justice Samuel Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Amy Coney Barrett recused.