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Newsletter – Fall 2014


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The History of Halloween

Happy Halloween A crisp wind blows, leaves crunch under foot, the smell of pumpkins and burning candles drift through the air — then you know it’s Halloween! Many people know the word Halloween is the shortening of the term All Hallows Eve. But, did you know that Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sah-win’)? In the Gaelic culture, the festival was a celebration of the end of harvest season; and a time to take stock in supplies and prepare for winter. The Gaels believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the world of the living and the dead overlapped. They believed the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc like sickness and damaged crops. To scare away the evil spirits, they burned bonfires and wore masks and costumes.

Scare up some magical family memories of your own this Halloween by following these safety tips:

  • Children under the age of 12 should trick-or-treat with an adult. Kids mature enough to be without an adult should stick to familiar, well-lit areas and stay in groups.
  • Make sure children are seen — have them carry flashlights, wear glow sticks or attach reflective tape to their costumes or treat bags.
  • Always walk on sidewalks and cross at crosswalks or intersections. Kids should never dart into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Costumes should fit properly to avoid trips and falls.
  • Use face-paint and make-up when possible instead of a mask, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Always test the face paint on a small patch of skin before applying to the entire face.
  • Inspect the treats for signs of tampering before the kids are allowed to eat them. Throw out any candy with ripped, torn or worn wrappers. Kids should only eat candy in original, unopened wrappers.
  • When driving on Halloween night — slow down, anticipate heavy foot traffic and turn your headlights on earlier than normal. Remember kids are excited and may move in unpredictable ways.

Three Easy Steps to Avoid the Flu

Happy Halloween Influenza or the flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. The CDC recommends following three steps to protect yourself and others from contracting the flu.

Step 1: Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available for the season.

Getting the flu vaccine is the single most important step in protecting yourself against the flu. The flu vaccine is comprised of 3-4 different strains of the flu that research suggests will be the most prominent in a given flu season. While the vaccine will not protect you from every flu strain, it will help protect you against the most pervasive strains and it will help minimize the symptoms if you are exposed.

Everyone aged 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. This is especially true for people who are at high risk for contracting the flu — young children, people with chronic health conditions, people 65 years and older and health care workers. Infants under the age of 6 months are also considered high risk, however they cannot receive the flu vaccine. For this reason, it is very important for parents and caregivers of infants to be vaccinated.

Step 2: Stop the spread of germs.

Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes — as this is how germs are spread. Get yourself and your family in the habit of washing hands with soap and water frequently. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect household surfaces daily, especially during flu season and if you have any high risk persons living in your home.

If you are sick, avoid contact with others. Stay home until you are fever free for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications. Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Step 3: Take flu anti-viral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Influenza symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, body aches, chills and fatigue. A doctor can determine if your symptoms are the flu.

If you do contract the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to minimize the symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Antiviral drugs are only available by prescription and are not the same as antibiotics. They work best when taken within two days of developing symptoms. In high risk groups, the antiviral drugs are very important as they may prevent serious complications, hospital stays and even death.

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Fall Fire Safety

Fall Fire Safety When the weather turns cold people spend more time inside their homes using fireplaces, furnaces, and heaters. Some people head outside to enjoy outdoor fire pits. Fires are cozy, but they also present some safety hazards. Keep these tips in mind to stay warm and safe this season.

Service Your Furnace
Before the cold weather sets in, have your furnace professionally serviced. They should ensure everything is in working order and that there are no leaks.

Use Fireplaces Safely
Always use a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out of the fireplace. Never leave a burning fire unattended, and make sure a fire in a fireplace is completely out before going to bed.

Use Caution with Space Heaters
Always read the instructions on the unit before you use it. If the heater requires venting, make sure it is vented to the outdoors. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home; only use space heaters that are approved for this purpose. Always allow at least three feet of empty area around space heaters.

Reconsider Leaf Burning
Burning leaves produce dangerous and cancer-causing chemicals. Homeowners are urged to avoid burning leaves. If you decide to burn leaves, wear a protective mask and do so far away from the house or other structures. Always check the weather forecast and do not burn leaves in windy conditions.

Exercise Candle Caution
Nearly 10,000 house fires start with improper candle use every year. Never leave candles burning unattended, and keep your candles away from pets and kids.

Change Smoke Alarm Batteries
Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when you turn back your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Make sure to check the alarms with the new batteries installed. Check and replace any home fire extinguishers that have expired.

Use Fire Pits Safely
Outdoor fire pits have become very popular. To enjoy them safely, make sure the pit is made of an iron or stone basin. Always build or position the pit in a flat, open area away from trees. Whether the pit is store-bought or handmade, use a screen that properly fits for added protection. Take care to place the pit on concrete, dirt or gravel and take special care to avoid areas with grass and leaves. If the pit has a seating ring, ensure the seats are not flammable and are positioned at least 1.2 meters from the fire.

Jurors in the 21st Century

Twenty years ago being on a sequestered jury was difficult. No communication with the outside world. No television, radio, current magazines or newspapers. Even then it was a hardship to be isolated from the outside world.

Fast forward to a world where everyone has a computer in the palm of their hand complete with a camera and recording device. Accessing information is done in seconds. Communicating with anyone and everyone is instantaneous.

For the judicial court system, keeping this unlimited access to information and the outside world in check is getting more and more difficult.

Jury duty requires a juror to limit his or her communications with others. This collides with our 21-century, instant access mentality. Gone are the days when jurors were merely instructed to not discuss a case with others. Now the jury instructions are much more detailed and include explicit instructions to not use any electronic device such as cell phone, pda, iphone, Blackberry, laptop, tablet, email service, text message, internet chat room, blog, any social media platform — such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or YouTube to communicate any information about the case to anyone.

Jurors are asked to not use Google to research a case or to look up the definitions of legal terms. And, they are asked not to use Google Earth or any similar service to look-up crime scene locations.

Today, people use the internet to do everything. So, it is very difficult and almost counterintuitive to ask a person to refrain from using the internet to research a case. In their minds, jurors think they are simply clarifying a definition — which will help them reach a fair and just verdict. But the “verdict by Google” can pollute the jury’s deliberations with toxic, inaccurate or misleading factual misinformation which can lead to mistrials and appeals based on their misconduct.

Now some judges are adopting a juror pledge. Jurors must agree to not engage in any online research or communications pertaining to their trial, and they must sign the pledge under penalty of perjury. Many judges feel this is the only way to convey the importance of the instructions.

Even with these new procedures and pledges in place, it is still hard to police juror digital disobedience. And, it’s even harder to determine if what a juror did — researched a definition, tweeted a status or contacted a trial participant via social media — really had an effect on the outcome of the case.

Each year more and more cases are brought up on appeal due to juror digital disobedience. The courts will have to evolve and adapt to the information age in order to preserve the integrity of the judicial system.

About Our Firm


For over 30 years, Casey & Devoti has diligently protected the rights of its clients with honesty and integrity. Our lawyers are dedicated to providing individuals and small companies with first-class, professional and aggressive legal representation. Our lawyers have extensive trial experience representing clients in matters such as, automobile, train and truck accidents, medical and legal malpractice, product and premises liability, elder and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation and wrongful death. Casey & Devoti proudly serves the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.

Learn more about Casey & Devoti and its rich history of aggressively protecting clients’ rights on our website or through our various social media pages:
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Latest News

2014 Wine Opener Fundraiser A Huge Success

Matt Devoti, Lauren Russo, Matt Casey and Becky Casey enjoy the evenings festivities
Matt Devoti, Lauren Russo, Matt Casey and Becky Casey enjoy the evenings festivities.

The Wine Opener

Casey & Devoti continued its commitment to the Gateway Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by sponsoring the 12th Annual Wine Opener fundraiser this past September. The event drew a crowd of nearly 400 people and raised just under $70,000 for the Gateway Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Matt Devoti served as ‘Co-Host’ of the event and was instrumental in the planning and execution of the fun-filled evening. Matt Casey and Matt Devoti along with several of their family members and friends enjoyed wine tastings, appetizers, and a silent auction amidst the backdrop of the Moto Museum, which houses an extensive collection of new and vintage motorcycles.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Adding Tomorrows

Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. The Gateway Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a fundraising arm, whose purpose is to advance fundraising efforts, research, and community awareness for children and adults living with Cystic Fibrosis in the St. Louis area.


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