About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

Legal Disclaimer (because, you know, I'm a lawyer)

This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

UPDATE: Wallace v. SeaWorld's Roadmap For Reversing Nalwa v. Cedar Fair

Last week I attended IAAPA Expo 2011 in beautiful (and much warmer than Connecticut) Orlando, Florida.  I think all who attended can agree that it was a great time and a fantastic networking opportunity.  To all of you who I met there, I hope to see you soon.  To all of you who I didn't, I hope to meet you soon.

While at IAAPA, I had the opportunity to speak with several of my colleagues, both in and out of any one of the kazillion educational sessions IAAPA offers, and specifically to speak with some of them about last summer's decision from the California federal court in Wallace v. Busch EntertainmentI've previously written about this case to express my belief that it could contain a subtle signal that at least one federal judge in California does not believe that the Nalwa decision is long for this world.  (I've also written on the Nalwa decision previously - you can find that here).  I continue to believe that the absence of any mention of the Nalwa ruling in Wallace may speak volumes about its perceived persuasiveness.  However a colleague of mine, who practices in California, was not as convinced that there was any message or implication in the Wallace ruling.  According to my colleague, the absence of Nalwa in the Wallace decision is not attributable to the federal court's potential belief that Nalwa is a poor decision, but is simply a product of a California appellate rule that prohibits any court from citing the Nalwa decision once the California Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision.  Well - not being versed in California appellate rules (remember folks, I practice in Connecticut and the two states are PRETTY different), this stopped me in my tracks ... momentarily.  After all, if the Wallace court didn't cite to Nalwa because it wasn't allowed to - where does that leave my entire premise.  Well, I'm happy to report that my premise is safe and sound, and in fact, even assuming my colleague is correct about this rule, even stronger than it was before I knew about the rule.  Keep reading after the jump if you want to know why. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IAAPA 2011: Five Sessions That Could (Unintentionally) Help You Avoid Legal Trouble (and why)

Well, its Day Two of my special buildup to IAAPA 2011.  Yesterday, I put together my five recommendations for legally-themed educational sessions at this year's expo.  Today, I've assembled a list of five non-legal seminars that could, as a fortunate side effect, help you avoid legal trouble down the line.  These seminars are not, to the best of my knowledge, taught by lawyers or meant to delve deeply into legal issues.  They all seem designed with an operational or business purpose in mind - to help you, the owner or operator, better manage your operation and maximize profits.  Nonetheless (and based solely on the course descriptions and my personal opinions), there is a good chance that something you learn in these classes will help keep you out of court someday.  And as much as I love going to court as an attorney, trust me when I tell you that it's a lot less fun if you are a litigant.  So, here they are ... the Five Sessions That Could (Unintentionally) Help You Avoid Legal Trouble (and why):

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IAAPA 2011: Five Legally Themed Sessions You Should Attend (and why)

Like many of you, I hope, I will be making the trek to sunny Orlando soon for next week's IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011.  In anticipation of the big event, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the best that IAAPA has to offer (or that I think IAAPA has to offer) at this year's event.  So, for the next few days, I will be offering a different "Top 5" list to help you get the most out of your visit.***  I will also be in attendance at most, if not all, of my "Top 5" selections for the week, so if you see me (I'll be the one in the suit looking exceptionally lawyerly), please don't hesitate to stop and say hello!

***Please note that, except if I note otherwise, I have no particular connection to any of these sessions and have not been asked by IAAPA or any of the speakers to promote any of them in particular.  These are just my own opinions.  That said, if anyone out there wants to buy me a drink in Orlando for recommending a particular session, I would be glad to take you up on it. ***

So, without any further ado, I give you the 5 Legally Themed Sessions You Should Attend (and why):

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Strong Arm Of The Law: How Judges Use Appeal-Proof Decisions To Push Settlements

One of the most frustrating things about litigation for a client to understand is that sometimes, especially early in a case, you can be 100% right on the law and 100% right on the facts, and still lose – and there’s really nothing you can do about it.  Why?  Because judges, generally, are quite practical and they know precisely how and when to flex some judicial muscle to pressure you into a settlement that will bring the entire case to a close quickly and finally.  No difficult legal questions to answer.  No long trials taking up the Court’s time and costing a lot of money for the client.  No appeal and (more importantly from the judge’s perspective) risk of reversal on appeal.  The whole case just goes away.  And if all it takes to make all this a reality is a decision on a preliminary issue that might not be in line with controlling law and that will never be appealed, from the judge’s perspective, its worth it every time. 

I recently saw a perfect example of this in a recent case involving Cedar Fair’s soon-to-be-former property, California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California. The case is called Griffin v. Cedar Fair L.P., and it involves allegations that the park is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  The decision mostly concerns a rather ordinary pleading issue that normally would not warrant much attention, however, the end of the case contains a prime example of a judge ignoring the facts and the law in an attempt to induce a quick settlement by, effectively, forcing Cedar Fair to air its dirty laundry in front of all its guests.