On the history of the transportation conference:
“This will be our committee’s fourth transportation conference. Previously, the event was held in Dallas, Cleveland, and Chicago. This year’s meeting is in Omaha, right around the time of the College World Series, which we hope will add another layer of fun.
“The conference itself has grown, I think, to be more wide-ranging and inclusive of all modes of transportation. Not only do we cover trucking issues—such as liability and cargo claims as well as broker and contractual issues—but also we present topics relevant to those interested in motorcoach, aviation, railroad, and maritime. We try to be on the cutting edge with our topics every year.”
On what attendees can expect:
“We are excited about this year’s topics, which include a discussion of work-zone safety; in-cab cameras for incident recording; human factors in accident investigations; jury attitudes toward the trucking industry; a survey of important (and some shocking) verdicts; and an update on key court decisions in land, sea, and air incidents. We even are tackling the issues presented by Uber and other alternative passenger modes of travel.”
On the planning process and winnowing the chaff:
“This is a serious endeavor. The Transportation Committee’s seminar planning subcommittee includes claims professionals and attorneys who spend their time in the transportation field. We are blessed to be presented with far more proposals than we can accept. We hold several conference calls to carefully discuss the proposals and descriptions, and we carefully examine the presenters, as well. Our goal was to select presentations that are topical, haven’t been overdone, and add value for the audience.”
On what he hopes attendees leave knowing that they didn’t know before coming:
“Value is the key. There are numerous conferences out there, and attendees—especially industry members—cannot afford to spend time and money unless there are valuable takeaways. So we want the audience to learn in an interactive environment. We have to provide our guests with practical, up-to-date knowledge that they can take back to their desks and use as soon as they return. Our topics will demonstrate what has worked for the defense and the plaintiff’s side.”
On the top issues ahead for transportation claims and litigation professionals in 2015 and beyond:
“In my world, which consists mostly of trucking and motorcoach, fatigued driving, in-house safety programs, document retention, and driver hiring/training/retention are big topics.
“Additionally, our opponents have been using the ‘reptile’ theory to maximize verdicts and settlements by trying to scare and anger the jury pool. The other side seeks to go beyond the actual facts of the accident by appealing to the fear and self-protection mechanisms in the amygdala portion of the brain. The jurors are led to believe that a large award will protect the community and eliminate ‘needless danger.’”