Vol. 76, No. 10, October
Falls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps
and Their Consequences
By Alvin S. Hyde, Gary M. Bakken, Jon R. Abele, H. Harvey
Cohen, & Cindy A. LaRue (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing
Co., 2002). With disk. 532 pgs. Order, (800) 209-7109.
Reviewed by Monte E. Weiss
Falls and Related Injuries is an all-encompassing resource
for those who litigate slip, trip, and fall cases.
The text has three sections: the first outlines why people fall and
who falls more often.
While useful, this portion is more for researchers, because it
contains detailed factual information and references.
The second section is of more use to the practitioner, because it
includes a review of the types of hazards that contribute to falls. The
detailed explanation of how people fall allows the reader to understand
what kinds of injuries typically result.
The last three chapters in this section will receive the most
attention. Chapter 17 summarizes legal issues associated with slip,
trip, and fall cases from the plaintiff's perspective. The chapter
discusses such topics as the duty owed to others, and identifies
Aptly titled "Defenses in a Slip and Fall Case," chapter 18 is the
defense side of the story. The chapter outlines common defenses used and
provides legal authority for each defense theory, thereby allowing
The last chapter is the busy lawyer's dream: checklists.These
checklists highlight areas of investigation and help remind counsel to
inquire into "obvious" topics (for example, shoes worn by the client)
and the innocuous, such as particular phobias of the client. There are
also checklists for use in questioning witnesses and deposing the
defendant, and even one (albeit a bit brief) for expert witnesses.
Obviously, a good defense lawyer could use these resources to prepare
for the same depositions.
The final section, "The Fall Prevention Manual," offers information
concerning the construction of premises (whether remodeled or new
construction) to try and minimize the creation of slip, trip, or misstep
hazards. The CD-ROM provided includes the forms and checklists found in
This text is an exceptional resource for those who handle the slip,
trip, and misstep cases.
Viatical Litigation: Principles &
Edited by Gloria Grening Wolk (Laguna Hills, CA: Bialkin
Books, 2002). 320 pgs. $295. Order,
Reviewed by Douglas E. Baker
Most attorneys have a nodding acquaintance with the phrase "viatical
litigation" but probably, and erroneously, presume it has little to do
with their practice.
A viatical settlement occurs when an insured person exchanges a life
insurance policy for an immediate percentage of the death benefit.
("Viaticum" is Latin for "provisions for a journey.") The practice took
off in the 1980s, when an AIDS diagnosis seemed a death sentence and
people so diagnosed found themselves with accumulating medical bills and
few assets other than a valueless (to themselves) life insurance policy.
A few desperate souls sold their policies for cash, and an industry was
born. The pool of viators expanded again when senior citizens were
persuaded to make such deals - termed "senior settlements" or "life
settlements" - as an estate-planning tool.
The editor of Viatical Litigation, a social worker,
financial professional, and advocate for appropriately done viatical
settlements, makes it clear that such settlements are not inherently
problematic. Serious complications often arise, however, because the
industry, unregulated at its inception, remains, in the words of one
commentator, the "wild west" of financial planning, touching on but not
necessarily controlled by securities and insurance regulations, and
sometimes falling between the cracks of state and federal laws. Such an
environment has attracted ethically challenged characters on all sides,
and the waters have been clouded by questionable practices and outright
fraud. Because viatical settlements and their proceeds have made their
way into various real estate deals, estate plans, marital settlements,
IRAs, and other otherwise innocuous financial transactions, viatical
litigation can be an issue for attorneys who had little idea it was
lurking in the background. At least one attorney, for example, found
himself on the wrong end of a malpractice suit when he failed to
recognize that a particular viatical settlement was part of a Ponzi
This collection of law and commentary helps clarify the issues and
the law, and includes a selection of successful pleadings and briefs for
attorneys who choose or are compelled to resolve wrongly done viatical
agreements and their consequences. It is of uneven literary quality, as
might be expected from an assembly of lawyers with varying writing
styles, and suffers from an occasional lapse in copy-editing. The
glossary is useful. It would help if the table of authorities were
broken down by jurisdiction. Still, considering the growing impact of
this little-known area of law, this small but heftily-priced volume
deserves to be read, and probably placed in the firm library.
Congressional Deskbook 2003-2004 - 108th
By Michael L. Koempel & Judy Schneider (Alexandria, VA:
TheCapitol.Net, 2003). 656 pgs. $70.50. Order,
Reviewed by Jenny Boese
Dwight Eisenhower once said "politics ought to be the part-time
profession of every citizen...." Should you take that to heart, one book
you can read is the Congressional Deskbook. From detailed
information on the federal legislative process to the interplay between
the different branches of government, the Congressional
Deskbook provides a solid overview and is a good, albeit hefty,
The book begins by providing a look into the life - both the
advantages and the pressures - of those who serve in Congress. It
proceeds by organizing chapters around: support entities to Congress;
organization of Congress; in-depth description of the federal
legislative process; overview of federal budget process; explanations of
Congressional documents; information resources; researching and tracking
Congressional action; and a case study to integrate these chapters into
a more understandable whole. A final added bonus is the "back of the
book" segment that includes a glossary, eight appendices, and relevant
While many of the chapters can only provide a cursory look at the
issues or entities in question, the meat of the book arguably comes from
the chapters explaining legislative processes. This is where the book
dives deeper into descriptions and terms. Related chapters on
information providers and researching resources provide lots of useful
information. Because the book conveys a lot of valuable information
here, it can be text-heavy, but the use of sidebars assists in directing
attention to important information or helps break it into more
Overall, the Congressional Deskbook is an excellent resource
for individuals seeking to learn or expand their knowledge of Congress
and our system of lawmaking. What's best about the book is that it puts
so much valuable information into one place and provides hundreds of
additional resources, should the reader desire to learn more.
Minnesota Legal Research Guide, 2d
By John Tessner, Brenda Wolfe, & George R. Jackson
(Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2002). 479 pgs. Order, (800)
Reviewed by Laura Suess
For practitioners and legal researchers who are looking for an
excellent tool to obtain legal authority in Minnesota, in this
reviewer's opinion the search is over. The Minnesota Legal Research
Guide, Second Edition, is a fabulous desk reference that contains a
comprehensive description of the means to access legislative, executive,
judicial, and administrative law in the state in both print and online
versions. The authors of the guide are librarians whose collective
background covers all three of Minnesota's major law schools. Though
this second edition benefits its intended audience in the field of legal
research, the book's comprehensive coverage also is useful to lay
persons looking for a lawyer and individuals interested in learning
about the basic history of Minnesota's government.
The guide presents an overview of the State of Minnesota's historical
beginnings and follows with chapters devoted to each branch of
government that include helpful Web site and contact information for
political offices, commercial publishers of legislative materials, and
material available through Westlaw and Lexis. The balance of the
chapters thoroughly discuss finding aids and secondary sources,
including federal and state forms, legal periodicals, special interest
publications and newsletters, and legal institutions and
The remaining half of the guide consists of 15 appendices, the most
noteworthy of which include a table detailing the amendments to the
state constitution proposed to voters since 1958, a numerical index of
Minnesota Attorney General opinions, and the system of citation to
Minnesota legal resource documents.
The usefulness of this guide cannot be overstated; it is helpful not
only to legal and historical researchers but also to the public. It
contains a well-organized table of contents that points the reader to a
quick reference of helpful resources and definitions that are
instructive to lay persons, yet it also is a sophisticated tool for
experienced legal practitioners. The book also contains lists and
contact information for the state's law and nonlaw libraries, colleges
in the state that offer library school programs, programs of study for
paralegals, and related organizations for legal assistants and legal
secretaries. The guide includes a section detailing available public
education and referral services to both pro bono and independent legal
The guide is a very effective research device that is not likely to
be outdated, because its extensive coverage renders it a useful starting
point for obtaining the most current information. The Minnesota
Legal Research Guide is highly recommended for Minnesota
practitioners and lawyers out of state who wish to have a handy desk
reference for finding the law in Minnesota.
Electronic Surveillance: Commentaries &
By James A. Adams & Daniel D. Blinka (Notre Dame, IN:
National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2003). 218 pgs. $42.95. Order,
Reviewed by Barry J. Boline
Professors Adams and Blinka have produced this resource manual for
the criminal law practitioner looking for a quick and ready reference
regarding electronic surveillance and portions of the United States Code
dealing with it. The book is divided into six short sections explaining
the state of the law in the areas of screening passengers and property
at airports; interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications;
wire and electronic communications interception and video surveillance;
pen registers and trap and trace devices; mobile tracking and thermal
imaging devices; and electronic communication and transactions records.
These sections are followed by United States Code sections dealing with
The sections read more like separate articles rather than chapters of
a book, not being overly interdependent on one another. The format makes
the publication very readable, but I was left wanting more in-depth
information about certain subjects. While there are some citations to
federal case law throughout the publication, the book heavily cites
sections of the United State Code. This book is not intended to be an
in-depth research tool on electronic surveillance.
Professors Adams and Blinka do a good job of alerting the reader to
changes in electronic surveillance following the passage of the USA
Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56) and its amendments to the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1811.
They describe new privacy concerns for citizens who have encounters with
law enforcement in a post-September 11 United States, and detail
remedies aggrieved citizens have after being electronically surveilled
in violation of the law.
The authors point out in their overview that "[t]echnological
changes, especially electronic, have profoundly and pervasively affected
American society...." In that context, this book provides a good
overview of the law (and recent changes), which will continue to be a
hotbed of appellate activity for many years. While not a detailed review
of the subject, this publication is an excellent tool for the criminal
lawyer looking for a primer on different aspects of the federal law
related to electronic surveillance.
To Review a Book...
The following books are available for review. Please request the book
and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of
Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, org klester wisbar wisbar klester org.
Publications and videos available for review
- ALI-ABA's Practice Checklist Manual for Drafting Leases IV:
Checklists, Forms, and Drafting Advice, edited by Mark T.
Carroll (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2003). 223 pgs. CD-ROM.
- Forensic Aspects of Communication Sciences &
Disorders, by Dennis C. Tanner (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers &
Judges Publishing, 2003). 393 pgs.
- Forensic Aspects of Driver Perception & Response, 2nd
ed., by Paul L. Olson & Eugene Farber (Tucson, AZ:
Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2003). 372 pgs.
- Legal Cases of the Civil War, by Robert Bruce
Murray (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003). 352 pgs.
- Terrorism Freedom & Security: Winning Without
War, by Philip B. Heymann (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press,
2003). 286 pgs.
- Toxic Mold Litigation, by Raymund C. King
(Chicago, IL: ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, 2003).
- Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs & Oral
Argument, by Hon. Ruggero J. Aldisert (Notre Dame, IN:
NITA, 2003). 400 pg