Considering the law or not, character counts

TSA Security Check.
TSA security check. (From TSA website)

WASHINGTON, October 19, 2014 − Last week at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., the last TSA agent checking travelers’ identities was observed conversing with a family presenting their IDs. Of note is that young children do not have IDs. The agent asked a young boy his name. He said “Ricky.” The agent asked where he was going. Ricky laughed. He wasn’t sure, he thought Disneyland, hesitated, Disneyworld? He said he was going to see Mickey.

The agent next asked Ricky’s slightly older sister her name. “It’s Sara,” she told the agent, “and my brother keeps forgetting, we’re going to Disneyworld.”

The agent next asked the youngest child her name. “It’s Jessica.” Jessica clung to her mother’s pant leg. The agent asked Jessica if the woman was a good mother who always protected her. Jessica nodded emphatically while smiling and giggling.

The laws governing security since 9-11, as we all know, have become much more strict, and they are perhaps most clearly on display in the security lines at our nation’s airports. As children do not typically have photo identification cards, the TSA developed a method to confirm the identity of children, and at the same time, to watch for potential child theft.

This agent did her job perfectly, naturally, and inoffensively. By asking the children’s names in front of the others, she was assured to get the truth, knowing that a lie would be visible on the other children’s faces. She knew the destination of the family’s trip, having seen the boarding passes of the parents. She knew these were the children of the adults by Jessica’s answer to her question about the woman being a “good mother who always protected her.”

The application of the set of laws concerned with security would have permitted many variations in the method of investigation. A more harsh approach would have upset the children and perhaps even the parents. A direct, cold “Are these your parents?” question directed to the children may have triggered privacy concern issues for the parents.

There are many ways in which laws can be carried out. But whatever the methodology, above all, character matters. Applause is due to the agent at National Airport and to the TSA itself for the way the situation above was handled. Clearly the system just described helps fosters security and a smooth and happy transition through the security area while still addressing security concerns.

Medical malpractice is, according to some−mostly insurance companies that have to pay for mistakes of doctors and hospitals− the scourge of practicing medicine. But an unfortunate medical outcome is not necessarily medical malpractice.

What happens when a doctor attempts to help someone in an emergency situation, and the final result is not the desired ending?

At an outdoor community swimming pool snack bar in Boca Raton, Florida this past Saturday, a man awaiting his meal fell off of his chair. He had passed out, and simple observation indicated he clearly needed help. A doctor a few tables away rushed over to the man now on the ground and administered CPR until the ambulance crew arrived and took over.

The doctor saved the man’s life. Character matters. This doctor probably knew his efforts would be protected under the law if he had not been successful. But it’s  likely that analysis did not even enter his mind as he quickly got up from his chair and rushed over to help.

Doctors treating patients are under a duty to provide healthcare that meets certain standards. This is because doctors have a fiduciary relationship with their patients.

But what if there is no doctor-patient relationship? For example, if a doctor sees another diner at a snack bar fall off a chair and through a basic sense of humanity or civic responsibility, provides healthcare. Can that doctor then be sued if the unconscious man dies?

In Florida where this life-saving event actually took place, “Good Samaritan” laws protect doctors, and anyone for that matter, from civil liability if attempted medical care efforts do not succeed:

… Any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations… shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act… where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

Every state has “Good Samaritan” laws, because character matters.

At the same snack bar the following day, a diner asked the waiter if the side dish fruit cup included pineapple, as she was allergic. The waiter advised he could have the pineapple taken out.

The waiter came back a few moments later and asked if the allergy was to fresh pineapple. He appreciated that if this were the case, simply taking out the pineapple pieces would not be enough, as there would be pineapple juice clinging to the other pieces of fruit in the cup. Being told “yes,” he advised he would have the kitchen staff make up a fruit cup without any pineapple.

A highly satisfied customer and a big tip for the waiter were the final result. This is a fine example of character on proactive display. The waiter probably never even bothered to consider that if the pineapple juice were left in a cup and the patron later got sick, she could have sued the snack bar.

Walmart, and many other retail big stores are again moving up “Black Friday” this year to offer discounted pricing on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The object: assuring that hordes of crowds hungry for a bargain substitute a shopping spree at Walmart for the turkey.

While Walmart is not literally forcing its employees to work on Thanksgiving Day, it is effectively doing so. Walmart is offering an incentive for employees to work on their holiday: a bonus calculated on the basis of the participating employees’ prior 12-week average salary.

The problem is that last year, many Walmart employees reported that Walmart intentionally cut their shift hours in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, thus assuring employees needed to work the holiday hours to make ends meet. Thus, that holiday “bonus” ended up being little more, if any more at all, than what these employees would normally have earned anyway, even after taking Thanksgiving Day off.

Walmart’s actions are disgusting, legal, and totally lacking in character.


Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website

His most recent book “Who Will Pay My Auto Accident Bills?, The Most Comprehensive Nationwide Auto Accident Resolution Book, Ever” can be reviewed on and can be ordered there, or obtained as an e-book or in print directly on Amazon: Click here to order


Mr. Samakow’s “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign, El Textarudo, has become nationally recognized. Please visit the website and “like” the concept on the Facebook page

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Paul Samakow
Attorney Paul Samakow brings his legal expertise and analysis from the trenches of the courtroom to Communities Digital News. A native Washingtonian, Samakow has been a Plaintiff’s trial lawyer since 1980 practicing in the DC metro area. Paul can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email @ [email protected], or through his website @ He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics.