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McDonald’s Hot Coffee– Lesson for Trial Lawyers
The telling of stories is a natural way for people to learn and convey ideas. In fact, it is so natural that at times people will complete lessons they think they have learned by inventing facts that fit their perceived story. This is particularly problematic for trial lawyers. If you tell an incomplete story to a jury–someone will complete it for you and do so through their own experiences, real or perceived. Once a juror has completed your story, it becomes the only story and will guide that juror’s thinking and communication with his fellow jurors.
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Matthew (Matt) graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University School of Law in May 2012. Immediately upon graduation he served as law clerk to The Honorable Michael F. Devine, Judge, Circuit Court of Fairfax County. Matt will be involved in all aspects of the firms civil litigation practice.

On December 14, 2012, a 36 year old man entered a primary school in central China, intent upon injuring school children. He was apprehended after injuring 20 students, with no fatalities. Two days later, a 20 year old man entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut with the same intent–but with hugely different results. In Newton, Connecticut, 20 children and 6 adults were killed and the police were unable to apprehend the shooter before he fatally shot himself.
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(Fairfax, VA – Nov. 1, 2013) — Fairfax personal injury law firm Sickels, Frei & Mims has earned a Top Tier, National ranking in the medical malpractice category by US News and World Report’s annual edition of top law firms. The firm is also listed in the top tier ranking in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for medical malpractice and personal injury, for both defendants and plaintiffs.

The firm has been recognized by US News since the inception of its Best Law Firms rankings in 2010.
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In a case that redefines employment law in Virginia, the State Supreme Court recently issued a definitive ruling on the scope and breadth of not to compete covenants. In Home Paramount Pest Control v. Shaffer, et al., the court agreed with Sickels, Frei & Mims partner Charles Sickels that the employer’s non-compete restriction was overbroad and unenforceable because it effectively restricted former employees from performing any activity whatsoever for any competitor of the former employer’s. Further, the Court said that the Covenant was not reasonably limited to protect only the employer’s legitimate business interests. The Court noted that the law of non-compete agreements had evolved in Virginia since 1989 in Paramount vs. Rector when it had upheld an identical covenant. Sickels represented Paramount in that case. The Court examined the function component of the restrictive covenant to determine whether the covenant was reasonable and no more restrictive than necessary. The restriction in the employment function with a new employer must be related to the functions the employee performed with the former employer.


As reported by the Associated Press, the case of The Estate of Daniel Kim versus Virginia Tech, wasn’t about the money, it was about the change in protocol to help students who were in danger of committing suicide. See: In a family’s grief, determination to force university to tell parents of suicidal students

(November 18, 2011 — Fairfax, VA). Virginia Tech University has agreed to revise policies and protocols regarding parental notification of potentially suicidal students as a result of a lawsuit brought by partner Gary Mims over the suicide death of student Daniel Kim of Reston.
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