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Defense Lawyers Descend on New Orleans

If the courts seem a bit quieter this week, it is because trial lawyers from all over the United States are convening in New Orleans for the annual meeting of the Defense Research Institute, the organization that is to the civil-defense bar what the American Association for Justice is to the plaintiffs' bar. The meeting -- which begins today and runs through Sunday -- will feature such big-name guest speakers as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Newsweek commentator and The McLaughlin Group panelist Eleanor Clift and NPR correspondent and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Some 1,000 defense lawyers and corporate counsel are expected to attend.

I note that the conference agenda includes a panel, "Blogs, Browsers and Briefs -- Leveraging Technology to Research and Present Your Case," but I have had no luck finding anyone who is blogging, tweeting or otherwise issuing dispatches from the conference. If anyone is live-blogging DRI, let us know by adding a comment below.

I could not help but notice a peculiarly lawyer-like twist to the conference registration form. On Saturday morning, the DRI will sponsor a 5K "Fun-raiser" run and walk to benefit New Orleans-area charter schools. But this being a conference of defense lawyers, it should be no surprise that the conference brochure includes a full-page "Assumption of Risk and Waiver of Rights." Anyone wishing to join the "fun" by walking or running must first acknowledge and agree to the following:

[T]hat it may involve numerous risks and dangers including, but not limited to: acts of God; civil unrest; terrorism; use of roads, trails, hotels, vehicles, boats or other means of conveyance that are not operated nor maintained to customary and usual standards; high altitude; accident or illness without access to means of rapid evacuation or availability of medical supplies; the inadequacy of medical attention once provided; physical exertion for which I am not prepared; consumption of alcoholic beverages; or negligence (but not willful, fraudulent, or malicious conduct) on the part of DRI.

OK, civil unrest and terrorism? A long shot, but maybe. But high altitudes? In New Orleans? It goes on:

I fully understand, acknowledge and recognize that such risks and activity may be beyond the accepted safety and health standards of my life at home or work, yet they will contribute to my enjoyment and excitement and are a reason for my voluntary participation.

If I read this correctly, by signing this, you are affirming that the risks spelled out above -- acts of God, terrorism and all the rest -- will contribute to your enjoyment and excitement and are a reason you are joining the race. Either defense lawyers are an unusual lot or they are badly in need of a good editor.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 22, 2008 at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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