More EndDD Presentations by CATA

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Ellen Hobbs Hirshman and Susan Petersen, both trustees with The Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys (CATA), travelled to Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (NDCL) on Tuesday, February 9, 2016, for two End Distracted Driving (EndDD) presentations. Both the Sophomore and Junior classes were attentive and engaged in many discussions about the dangers of distracted driving. The 365 NDCL students and teachers were impressed with the statistical data and testimonials of families that have suffered a loss because of distracted driving. The EndDD Family Safe Driving Agreement was handed out to all NDCL students to take home and discuss with their families. These NDCL students are “passing it forward” and helping to educate others about how to make smarter and safer choices when driving and being driven in a car. Together, through education, we can make our roads a lot safer.

Shoes and Clothes for Cleveland’s Kids

Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys partnered with Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) on Monday, December 14, 2015, to donate 100 pairs of shoes and boots to children at Payless Shoes Steelyard Commons. CATA is an organization dedicated to assisting its members in furthering their education and skills so they may better represent their clients in the courtroom. CATA members are also dedicated to assisting those in need outside of the court room.

An astonishing 54% of kids in greater Cleveland live in poverty, the second highest amount of any big city. CATA knows that reaching out and helping these children is just one way to make a difference and assist those in need. In fact, one of the teachers at the event on Monday thanked CATA for appreciating the fact that every day there are families in Cleveland struggling to make ends meet. Juggling their limited funds is especially difficult during this holiday season. We were reminded that providing these children with brand new shoes, boots and socks is not only appreciated, but necessary. One of the moms in attendance at the event thanked CATA personally telling us that her children were in desperate need of new boots. The smiles on the faces of the children is thanks enough!

I, along with CATA President Kathy St. John, and CATA board member Todd Gurney, had a blast assisting all the children as they were measured for the correct shoe size, picked out a pair of shoes or boots that appealed to them (action figures were in high demand) and tried on their new shoes and boots. The children were also given new pairs of socks, followed by a snack. CATA will be sponsoring a 2nd giveaway event during the Christmas break at which time they will be providing new shoes and boots for another 50 school-aged children. It is so rewarding to give back to our community.

Below are just a few of the photos from the event.  Check out the CATA Facebook Page for the rest!

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CATA and EndDD: a Safety Partnership

Over the past 2 years, the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys (CATA) along with their Community Outreach Committee, have partnered with The Casey Feldman Foundation and End Distracted Driving,  reaching out to high schools throughout Northeast Ohio to try and change attitudes toward distracted driving.  I have personally presented at Hawken School, Fuchs Mizrachi, Beaumont School for Girls, Gilmour Academy, Padua High School, Our Lady of the Elms, West Geauga High School and the Cleveland Council of Independent Schools, with many more presentations to be scheduled.

It is a powerful and effective presentation that moves me every time I present.  I start the presentation by telling the students that I am not here to TELL them how to drive.  I do not like it when people tell me what to do and I am not doing that.  I explain that I am providing them with information so they may make informed choices the next time they drive.  I also will start my presentation by telling the students that distracted driving is NOT a teen problem.  It’s an adult problem.  We, as parents/adults have set a poor example.  We have been poor role models in this regard and we need to start making smarter, safer choices when driving. I also admit to the students that I also was a distracted driver and set a poor example for my 3 sons; and I explain how I changed the way I approach driving.

It is an interactive program that was designed along with child psychologists from CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) with the goal of reaching out to students and capturing their attention. The power point has been revised numerous times based on pre and post presentation surveys received from more than 2500 teens.   It is a science–based presentation designed to engage teens and maximize the likelihood of changing attitudes and behaviors. The presentation is based on health communication and behavior change theory and incorporates teen messaging concepts to engage and appeal to teens in a non-confrontational manner.

I toss out wristbands to the students as they participate to encourage participation.  The presentation itself combines scientific data, testimonials and a little humor (in appropriate places).  At the end of the presentation, I usually discuss a Family Safe Driving Agreement (attached hereto) and ask the schools to discuss the issue with their students in smaller groups and have them take home the agreement to share with their families.  You see, we educate the students not only that they may make safer driving choices, but as a passenger, they do not have to let people drive them distracted!

And the students have been very receptive to the program.  Karen Roxbury from Gilmour Academy wrote to me recently to let me know that the dialogue is ongoing at the Gilmour community.  I was moved by her note:

Gilmour Academy - Roxbury Thank You

Heather Giel at Our Lady of the Elms emailed me today and said the program “WAS A HIT!”  Their students liked the fact that I did not “speak down to them”, but rather spoke honestly about my history of distracted driving and the lengths I had to go through to change my approach to driving.   Even their faculty is reevaluating how they drive.

Together, we can change the way we drive and create a safer community!

Here is the EndDD Safe Driving Agreement we use: EndDD Safe Driving Agreement

CATA Member Presents EndDD to Our Lady of the Elms in Akron, Ohio


The Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys and I were invited to present the End Distracted Driving program at Our Lady of the Elms in Akron, Ohio yesterday afternoon, October 27, 2015.  The 200 students (7th graders through 12th graders) and faculty were profoundly moved by the testimonials and data contained in the presentation.

The students will be taking home the Family Safe Driving Agreement to discuss safer choices to make when driving and when being driven.

CATA is making a difference and changing the way people drive!

To see all the photos of the event, visit the CATA Facebook Page.

Members Present End Distracted Driving to Padua Franciscan in Parma

This morning CATA member Frank Bolmeyer and I traveled to Padua Franciscan High School in Parma and addressed over 750 students and faculty with the End Distracted Driving ( presentation. The students were quite receptive and moved by the scientific data and testimonials contained in the presentation. Their Principal, David Stec, thanked CATA for its commitment to making a difference and changing people’s attitudes toward driving. The school is distributing the Family Safe Driving Agreement to their students to take home and share with their families. Together WE CAN change the face of driving in our community!

See photos from the presentation on the CATA Facebook Page.

Margaret Murray Presents to Members on Ohio’s New Subrogation Statute

Please join the Cleveland Academy of Trial Lawyers on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at noon for lunch and a presentation by Margaret Murray on Ohio’s new Subrogation statute.  Download the CATA October 2015 Luncheon Registration Form.

Margaret will be discussing Ohio’s newly enacted Make Whole Law, R.C. 2323.44, which is effective on September 28, 2015.  She will explain the difference between the Common Fund Doctrine and the Make Whole Law, and tell us how the new statute affects our clients and our practice.  As a member of the Ohio State Bar Association 2009 Special Committee on Subrogation and 2010 Subrogation Task Force, and the Ohio Association for Justice Subrogation Task Force in 2014 and Subrogation Committee in 2015, Margaret is well versed in Ohio subrogation law.

Margaret M. Murray has been a partner at Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. since 1997, having graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1996 and from the College of the Holy Cross in 1993.  Margaret is a member of AAJ, OAJ, ABA, OSBA, and the Erie County Bar Association, is currently chair of the Erie-Huron County Joint Grievance Committee, and rejoined the OAJ Board of Trustees this year having previously served from 2004-2010.  She also served on the OSBA Legal Ethics & Professional Conduct Committee from 2009-2012.  Margaret most recently spoke at the OAJ Insurance Law CLEs regarding Professional Rule of Conduct 1.15(d) and (e) and how these rules impact our responsibilities regarding subrogation claims.  Margaret’s work has been recognized by OAJ in 2010 and in 2014 with the Amicus Curiae Award and in 2011 with a Distinguished Service Award.  She is a past president of the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio and has been an elected member of the State Central Committee for the Ohio Democratic Party since 2006.  She has served as the amicus curiae chair of OAJ for the past six years and also serves as the co-chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Ohio Democratic Party.  Many decisions have been published regarding Margaret’s work including a national federal class action settlement in 2013 and most recently in June of 2015, a decision from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reinstating cases involving more than sixty life insurance companies which had been dismissed by the trial court.

I look forward to seeing you on October 14.

Case Law & CATA Social Tonight!

Looking forward to our social tonight with the Case Western Reserve University School of Law​’s Mock Trial Team and SBA!  See you from 6-8 PM at Crop Uptown located at 11460 Uptown Ave, Cleveland (University Circle).

2015 Annual Installation Dinner

CATA’s annual dinner was held on June 5th this year. Outgoing president, Ellen Hirshman, gave the President’s Award to Joel Feldman, the founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation and the EndDD program. Joel accepted the award on video. Ellen also gave CATA’s Service Award to Lillian Rudiy, who, as legal assistant to incoming president Kathy St. John, has acted as design support for the CATA News for the past five years, and has been actively involved in assisting with the Litigation Institute and Annual Dinner this year.

Our guest speaker was celebrated trial lawyer Randi McGinn, who authored the book Changing Laws, Saving Lives: How to Take on Corporate Giants, and Win. McGinn drew rousing applause for her inspirational theme: It’s not about the Money. The officers and board of directors were sworn in. Our new slate of officers is: Kathy St. John, President; Rhonda Debevec, Vice President; Cathy Bolek, Secretary; and Chris Patno, Treasurer. Check out some photos from the dinner on CATA’s Facebook Page.

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Joel Feldman Accepting the 2015 CATA President’s Award

Last week we held the CATA’s 2015 Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner, during which the outgoing president selects an honoree to receive the President’s Award.  This year, outgoing president Ellen Hobbs Hirshman selected Joel Feldman, of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation and the End Distracted Driving Organization.

Joel is an accomplished attorney who lost his daughter, Casey, to a distracted driver.  He has worked tirelessly to educate teens, adults, teachers, and parents on how to take real action to end distracted driving.  He’s also worked with organizations like CATA to help us present to groups as well.   Ellen has made EndDD a signature effort of CATA.  Having given the presentation to multiple schools, I can attest to its powerful impact.

Here is Joel accepting the award via video:


EndDD Presentation at Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights

On Friday, May 1, 2015 I addressed an attentive group of seniors at Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights.  The ladies were very receptive to the statistics and testimonials contained in the presentation.  As they journey  on to their respective choices of college, they voiced a desire to make better choices when driving.  They also understand the need to “speak up” when riding as a passenger with a distracted driver.  Together, we can make a difference in how people drive and save lives.


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