Conversation with a Doctor Who Wanted to file Malpractice Suit

Conversation with a Doctor Who Wanted to file Malpractice Suit

John Day is one of the most well-known medical malpractice attorneys in Tennessee.  He is also one of the leaders in our profession when it comes to exploding the myths and misimpressions that underlie much of society’s false assumptions about medical malpractice lawsuits.

In his blog post today over at Day on Torts, John details a conversation he had with a doctor who came in wanting to file a medical malpractice action in connection with the wrongful death of his father.  The conversation (and John’s commentary) is quite enlightening, and it details quite nicely the challenges, risks, and assumptions that must be overcome by lawyers and/or litigants in this arena.  I highly recommend taking a few moments to read it.

The Worst Question for Direct Examination at Trial

The Worst Question for Direct Examination at Trial

In law school, you’re told over and over again in trial advocacy class — “Don’t lead the witness. Let him/her tell the story. The lawyer isn’t supposed to be the one testifying.”

Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, it’s actually harder than it sounds to guide a witness through a story and get a coherent point across, and so most lawyers rely on a old crutch: when all else fails, simply ask your witness “So what happened next?”

The problem is that our crutch may not really be all that “tried and true” according to Elliot Wilcox at the Winning Trial Advocacy Tips Blog. In fact, Mr. Wilcox contends that “What happened next?” might actually be the worst question you can ask.  Specifically, he writes:

It doesn’t give the witness any guidance at all. When you ask the witness to tell you what happened next, you’re not doing anything to narrow his range of responses. Technically, there may have been a million different things that happened “next.” Which one do you want the witness to talk about?


“What happened next?” is simply too broad a question. It allows for a whole world of possible responses. If you want to help your witness tell his story more effectively, give him some idea of what he’s supposed to say by focusing his attention toward a narrower range of responses. Instead of asking, “What happened next,” ask something like this:

  • “Where did you drive to next?”
  • “Who did you speak to after that?”
  • “What was the next test you performed on the substance?”
  • “How does the man in the white jacket react?”
  • “Let’s focus your attention on the operating nurse. What does she do next?”

See how the questions direct the witness towards a limited area?

Read more here.

Chris Patterson quoted in Memphis Daily News

Quoted in Memphis Daily News

Chris serves on the Memphis/Shelby County Charter Commission.  In the most recent Commission meeting, the members were discussing how to handle hiring/firing issues (i.e. civil service protection) in the to-be-proposed consolidated government.

Apparently, the unions were there protesting in an attempt to secure greater protection for employees than what is available in the private sector.  Specifically, a top union official observed that many of his friends ask him for help in getting a government job because they know they can’t fired like they were from their job at a private company.

At which point Chris responded:  “What is it about a government job that deserves more protection than an equal job in the private sector?”

Good question.  I think the union official may have inadverently stumbled upon the problem.

Wiseman quoted in Memphis Daily News re: Blockbuster case

Wiseman quoted in Memphis Daily News re: Blockbuster case

The Memphis Daily News regarding the resolution of a lawsuit involving one of the firm’s clients, Blockbuster Inc., following a critical victory in a recent preliminary injunction hearing.  The lawsuit dealt with whether Blockbuster could participate in the burgeoning and crucial market for online delivery of entertainment content.  The lawsuit was ultimately resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

Chris Patterson featured in Memphis Daily News

Featured in Memphis Daily News

Today, Chris Patterson was the subject of a feature article in the Memphis Daily News as a result of his being selected as a “Mid-South Rising Star” by the industry publication, Law and Politics.

Quote in Commercial Appeal — Charter Commission

Quote in Commercial Appeal — Charter Commission

Chris Patterson is a member of the Metro Charter Commission.  He was quoted in today’s Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Millington Mayor Richard Hodges passed out a list of small towns’ concerns about metro government, ranging from the quality of ambulance service to tax rates. He asked what guarantee there is that the Memphis and Shelby County school systems won’t merge.

Rev. Ralph White asked why the school systems should be separate. “I think we would want all of our children to have the same education,” he said.

That prompted a response by member Chris Patterson, who said the public wouldn’t accept it: “(If we keep talking about schools), the practical reality is this thing is doomed before it starts.”

The group is drafting a proposed plan for a combined Memphis and Shelby County government. It voted last year not to include a school merger in the proposed combined government that it will present to voters later this year.

Quote in the Commercial Appeal

Quote in the Commercial Appeal

Harold Byrd Withdraws from Shelby County Mayor’s Race

Byrd’s announcement will come as a surprise to many people.

“I think the inside-baseball people suspected that he wasn’t going to run, but I think the general public just assumed that he was in,” he said.

He said he hopes strong Republican candidates will run, and predicted that this year’s elections will be marked by tension between opposing trends: growing demographic strength for Democrats in Shelby County, vs. disappointment with Democrats at the national level.

Patterson Bray – New Client Testimonial

Patterson Bray – New Client Testimonial

One of our New Year’s Resolutions here at Patterson Bray is to use video testimonials as part of our website marketing — i.e. let our former clients tell about their experiences with our firm for the benefit of folks out there on the web looking for an attorney.  Indeed, former clients are in the best position to explain why you should (or shouldn’t) hire a particular lawyer or law firm.