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Newsletter – Winter 2011

Winter Newsletter 2011
In This Issue


Going to the Doctor

Botched Estate or Tax Planning?

“Hot Coffee”

Casey and Devoti Recognized as “Rising Stars”

Contact Details

Going to the Doctor

I recently tried a case in Rolla. The case involved injury that a woman suffered when she fell entering a store. The woman tore the rotator cuff in her shoulder as well as a tendon in her elbow.

The defense lawyer defended the case by attacking the woman’s credibility. He argued to the jury that they could not trust her description of how she fell because the complaints her doctors recorded in her medical records were inconsistent with her testimony. Essentially, the lawyer argued that the woman was exaggerating her injury now that she had a claim and, because of that, the jury shouldn’t trust anything else she had to say.

What was the “inconsistency”? The lady’s primary care physician wrote in her chart – the medical record – that my client told her about “upper extremity complaints” on three occasions and elbow pain two other times in the handful of months after the fall. “Shoulder” was missing from doctor’s notes. The doctor testified that she would have recorded “left shoulder pain” had my client made the specific remark.

I found the testimony hard to believe. Normal people usually don’t say that their “upper extremity” hurts them. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the jury bought the defense lawyer’s argument and the absence of “shoulder” in the record cost my client her case.

So, what’s the lesson? Be prepared. Have a list of items to discuss when you visit your doctor. Be ready to tell your doctor about the specifics of your problem, including:

  • What specific body part is bothering you (right knee, left chest, back of head)
  • What part of the body part is the problem (base of skull, top of right shoulder)
  • The sensation you’re experiencing (sharp pain, dull ache, tingling, weakness)
  • How often you feel the sensation (constant, when you wake up, after work)
  • What types of activities aggravate the sensation (prolonged standing, swinging a hammer, driving more than 30 minutes)

The lesson applies whether you’re heading to the doctor for an injury or to treat a cold. An essential record is necessary – not just when you have a claim, but to help the doctor help you get better and back on your feet in the event of an illness.

-Matt Devoti

Botched Estate or Tax Planning?

We may be able to help. We have recently resolved two cases involving botched estate and tax planning.

There are many tools in the toolbox when it comes to estate planning. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney may be able put together an estate plan to carry out your wishes upon your death and to possibly save you or your estate tax. However, attorneys are not immune to mistakes. The estate and tax laws are complex and ever changing.

Unfortunately, errors do occur. They can be made in both the simplest of estate plans and the most complex. We have been able to help individuals faced with the following predicaments:

  • An IRS audit concerning exemptions or deductions claimed based upon the planning and recommendation of an attorney or financial planner
  • Significant taxes incurred by an estate after an attorney promised tax savings under an estate plan
  • A dispute between the beneficiaries of an estate over the distribution of the estate proceeds

If you face any disputes concerning taxes incurred by an estate or the distribution of the proceeds of an estate, do not hesitate to call for a free consultation.

“Hot Coffee”

This is the time of year when we visit with family, friends and co-workers at holiday parties. People often want to discuss the law – and, in particular, personal injury cases – at gatherings we attend. The “McDonald’s Coffee Case” remains a conversation topic 15 years after the verdict.

The case is routinely cited as an example of how people have used the American legal justice to their own advantage. But, is common “belief” about the case and who profited from it accurate? A new documentary, “Hot Coffee,” takes a look at the case, including what really happened to the woman who spilled the coffee on herself and the media attention given the verdict.

“Hot Coffee” has been selected for the U.S. Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The documentary was selected for inclusion out of more than 1,000 motion picture entries. The movie was produced and directed by Susan Saladoff.

For more information, please visit:

Casey and Devoti Recognized as “Rising Stars”

Our firm is pleased to announce that both Matt Devoti and Matt Casey have been identified as “Rising Stars” in “Super Lawyers”. Devoti and Casey are identified in the November issue of “Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers,” a Thomson Reuters and KC Magazine publication. “Rising Stars” are top lawyers identified by the publication who are 40 years old or younger or who have been in practice 10 years or less.

In 2007, “Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers” recognized Tom Casey as a “Super Lawyer”. Only 5% of practicing attorneys are named in the annual edition of “Super Lawyers”.

Our Contact Information

Do you, a family member or friend need help? Please feel free to contact us at:

By Telephone
(314) 421-0763

By E-mail

Thomas J. Casey –
Matthew J. Devoti –
Matthew C. Casey –

We are happy to meet with you for an initial consultation free of charge.


10 South Broadway, Suite 825, St. Louis, MO 63102
Copyright 2009 Casey & Devoti


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Missouri Bar Association
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Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
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