The 2018 CLM & Business Insurance Retail, Restaurant & Hospitality Conference kicks off its boots on February 7 in Dallas. Having been instrumental in planning the educational program for the event, Rebar Bernstiel’s Cathleen Kelly Rebar explains what attendees can expect at the show.
What trends are reflected in the program? As a planning group, were there main topics that you wanted to make sure to hit upon?
Litigation trends in general seem to focus on judicial decisions that expand causes of action in favor of the plaintiff. Fewer cases are being won on summary judgment, and fewer cases are heading to trial. Therefore, more focus is on the litigation strategy of the defense during the course of the litigation. Jurors will and do respond to plaintiff’s own negligence, but they are holding defendants to stricter standards than the law has traditionally imposed. Tolerance, accommodation, and special concessions are where we are seeing the majority of difficult cases in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality realm.
Are there any sessions you can spotlight that will give our readers some insight into the specifics of the program?
I have a significant interest in the session “Litigation Hold Letters - How to Properly and Effectively Respond,” which offers advice on challenging the medical necessity of the treatment provided to plaintiffs in these cases. Publix’s Liability Counsel Lauren McBride has done a fantastic job with identifying key areas of attacking physician billing, and I am looking forward to hearing her speak again. There are a few other sessions that discuss accommodations that affect the public and employees, which I think will be very interesting. Of course, I am looking forward to my own session, “Combating the Reptile Theory Through Deposition Preparation and Motion Practice,” and, lastly, anything having to do with effective mediation strategies.
Is there one thing you hope attendees will leave Dallas having learned?
I consider myself an expert in this field, yet when I attend this conference I always leave with new knowledge to aid me in providing even better results in the cases that I handle. Examples I can give relate back to the letters of protection challenge, as well as identifying various discovery tools and strategies that are effective in reducing damage awards.
What challenges does the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industry face in 2018 and beyond?
A softening of the overall duty owed to its customers. The emergence of this notion that businesses have a duty to protect their customers from any and all harm versus inspect and warn of known dangerous conditions. Also, the industry has seen a significant amount of data privacy issues over the past few years, so cybersecurity is a major issue for all areas of retail, restaurant, and hospitality.