I am officially moved in to the new space in the University District. It has been a wonderful move, and I feel great in the space. Come and see me! 4500 9th Avenue NE, Suite 300.
takes place on the Canadian frontier among fur traders and native tribes. Another favorite has always been "In the Heart of the Sea", by Nathaniel Philbrick, which details the true story behind "Moby Dick" ... though not a frontier story, it tells a similar story of survival in desperate and lean circumstances.
"The Revenant" did not disappoint. The book, though relatively short, details the lives of several men who have found themselves on the frontier, most of them hunting fur. Hugh Glass is the protagonist and is extremely likeable, despite his gruffness. He is a man of integrity and is highly skilled in the wilderness. Despite this, Mr. Glass is attacked by a bear and is all-but-dead. He is left to die by two men charged with caring for him and, eventually, burying him. After they leave--taking his weapons with them--Hugh Glass miraculously recovers and determines to seek revenge. The book spends the remainder of its pages detailing is long journey to full recovery and to that revenge.
The ending leaves something to be desired. And for this reason, and because I think Leo Di Caprio will make an excellent Glass, I plan to see the movie. My hope is that the movie gives Glass a more satisfactory conclusion.
I am in the process of moving my office to the University Business Center at 9th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street in the University District of Seattle. The office is conveniently located just off of I-5, with available parking and other nearby amenities. I hope you will contact me and come in to see the new space!
safe-haven from the grieving process. The reader follows Macdonald as she closes out the rest of the human world, and then slowly returns to society as she comes to terms with her father's death.
The book is peppered, also, with descriptions of another author's struggle in training a goshawk. T.H. White, the man behind Merlin and the Sword in the Stone, took up falconry as a hobby and wrote a book ("The Goshawk") about his misadventures while training a goshawk. The comparison is clear, and the fact that Macdonald read White's book as a budding falconer is significant, but these portions seemed almost as if Macdonald was filling up space by rewording passages from a book that had already been written. Some comparisons to White's experience would have been informative and useful to the "H is for Hawk" narrative; as it was, the book is essentially half Macdonald's, half White's.
I appreciated the originality of the concept behind this book. Macdonald takes a difficult period of life and uses her own life-long passion to parse out the mourning experience. But in the end of the book, I failed to see how one actually related at all to the other. Perhaps that was not her point, and she simply wanted to show the effects of mourning on a person in a way only she could. The writing was enjoyable and the pace was good. I did not get bored. But would I recommend it? Probably not.
Normally, I limit my legal opinion postings to Washington State appellate cases. But this one struck a chord with me.
Just yesterday, the US Supreme Court decided in OBB Personenverkehr v. Sachs that a California woman who purchased a Eurail Pass in the United States could not sue an Austrian rail company in a US court for injuries she experienced while traveling in Europe.
Carol Sachs was traumatically injured (very traumatically: a moving train crushed her legs, which had to be amputated) while attempting to board a train in Innsbruck, Austria. The railway was state-owned; in other words, the government of Austria owned and ran the railway. Therefore, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act applied.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) protects foreign states from being sued in US courts. The Act defines "foreign state" to include a state "agency or instrumentality." See more about the FSIA at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Sovereign_Immunities_Act
Ms. Sachs sued the Austrian railway in a federal court in California. She claimed negligence, strict liability for design defects, strict liability for failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of implied warranty of fitness for providing a train and platform unfit for their intended uses.
Strict liability means that a person or entity can be held liable whether or not that person/entity acted with intent. Certain very dangerous activities are held to a strict liability standard, such as transporting explosives. Strict liability also applies to manufacturing defects. For more information, see:
The Austrian railway claimed that Ms. Sachs could not sue it in a US court because of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The federal district court agreed, and dismissed Ms. Sachs's lawsuit. On appeal, the US Federal Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) also agreed, but then reversed itself in an en banc (full panel) rehearing.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act "provides the sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign state in the courts of this country." The Act defines "foreign state" to include a state "agency or instrumentality." In this case, both parties agreed that the Austrian railway constituted a foreign state under the Act. But Sachs argued that her lawsuit fell within the "commercial activity exception" and therefore the Act should not bar her lawsuit.
"Sachs argues that her suit falls within the Act's commercial activity exception, which provides in part that a foreign state does not enjoy immunity when 'the action is based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state.' 28 USC section 1603(a)(2)."
Ms. Sachs claimed (and the Ninth Circuit en banc agreed) that "[t]he sale of the Eurail pass in the United States form[ed] an essential element of each of Sachs's claims." Therefore, the claims were based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States, and the claims fell within the commercial activity exception.
But the US Supreme Court disagreed. It held that Sachs's claims against the Austrian railway were not "based upon" the sale of the Eurail pass in the US, and therefore the exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not apply.
"The Act's 'based upon' inquiry . . . first requires a court to 'identify the particular conduct on which the [plaintiff's] action is 'based.' . . . [A] court should identify that 'particular conduct' by looking to the 'basis' or 'foundation' for a claim, 'those elements . . . that, if proven, would entitle a plaintiff to relief.'"
In other words, the fact of Ms. Sachs's purchase did not entitle her to relief against the Austrian railway. Rather, it was the facts related to her accident while in Austria that entitled her to relief. The US Supreme Court took issue with the Ninth Circuit's method of dissecting each claim to find whether the commercial activity provided an element. The Court reiterated its holding in a previous Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act case, Nelson v. ___, in which the Supreme Court "zeroed in on the core of [the] suit" rather than individually analyzing each separate cause of action. As in Nelson, Sachs's actual personal injury "and not the arguably commercial activities that preceded their commission" formed the basis for the lawsuit.
"Under any theory of the case that Sachs presents . . . there is nothing wrongful about the sale of the Eurail pass standing alone. . . . However Sachs frames her suit, the incident in Innsbruck remains at its foundation."
Because Sachs's lawsuit was based upon the action that occurred in Austria--and not the commercial activity that occurred when she purchased her rail pass in the United States--the commercial exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not apply and Ms. Sachs was barred from bringing her suit against a foreign state in a US federal court. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, thereby affirming the district court's decision to grant the Austrian railway summary judgment dismissal of the case.
Now, whether Ms. Sachs can now bring her suit in an Austrian court is another matter . . . (A quick search online did not reveal any reason for her decision to sue in California rather than Austria, though I suspect it had mostly to do with convenience and the generosity of US juries.)
All the Light We Cannot See, By Anthony Doerr
This beautiful book (531 pages) tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who lives with her father in Paris during World War II. Her father is a master of locks at the Museum of Natural History, and when the Nazis occupy the city, he is one of three individuals tasked with hiding a legendary jewel. The book alternately tells the story of Werner, a German boy who is raised in an orphanage but escapes the coalmines with his knack for fixing radios. He becomes a Nazi soldier but remains a sympathetic character throughout. Doerr moves back and forth through time with Marie-Laure and Werner's stories, which is effective here because it provides a view into how the two might eventually cross paths someday. "All the Light We Cannot See" won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015.
The Paying Guests, By Sarah Waters
As I started reading this book (576 pages), it reminded me of books such as "A Passage to India" and "A Room With a View" ... so, E.M. Forrester. Very beautiful writing, very British, very proper. Waters intricately details the daily chores of Frances Wray as she works to maintain the home she shares with her mother. With her father and brothers dead, and her father's estate a shambles, Frances takes over the servants' duties. When this is not enough, she and her mother decide to take in two boarders. At this point, the story becomes something different, as the prim and proper style of the writing begins to contrast with an illicit affair, a murder, and a sensational trial. Great read, though a bit slow to start. Hold out for the good stuff about half-way in; it is worth it.
The Luminaries, By Eleanor Cattan
I think this book (848 pages, gulp) was my favorite of the three. It reminded me a lot of the TV show "Deadwood", in that it details the lives of several characters living in a gold-rush town and the clash between newcomers from more "civilized" lands with those who've become accustomed to the lawlessness and lack of creature comforts in the outpost. "The Luminaries" is set in a New Zealand gold-mining town, so the newcomers fare from different towns and lives than those you would encounter in an American story. Plus, just as with The Paying Guests, this book involves a murder mystery of the classic who-dunnit style. I loved the way Cattan weaved the individuals' stories together and kept me in suspense until the very end. This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, and it completely deserved it.
Until now, I've been blogging about Washington appeals, books, and a few other things at www.appealmeagrape.wordpress.com. In an effort to consolidate my sites, I'm integrating my blog into this website. Please let me know if you'd like to receive copies of previous blog posts, though I do plan to repeat one or two here. And stay tuned for new posts!