“The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” – FBI Agent Hal Neilson a victim of “selective punctuation” and his “trial by grammar”could result in “run-on sentence”!

Hencefore, USA v Neilson shall be known as the “Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” by decree of Nowdoucit.

A misplaced modifier is just that: a phrase, clause, or word placed too far from the noun or pronoun it describes. As a result, the sentence fails to convey your exact meaning. But misplaced modifiers usually carry a double wallop: They often create confusion or imply something unintentionally funny.

There’s nothing funny in Patsy Brumfield’s story on NEMS360. She reports the jury hearing USA v Neilson has decided one of the five counts of the Indictment and deadlocked on four.  She also reports the jury asked Judge Aycock to define “substantial”.   A form of the word “substantial” appears in counts one and two – and likely those are two of the four counts the jury has deadlocked on deciding.  Unintentional or not, Neilson faces a “run-on sentence” of 25 years and the lost of his pension for 21 years of service to a Government that with the use of “selective punctuation” and misplaced modifiers has subjected him to “trial by grammar”

Little wonder there’s a deadlock!  Take a look at the first count, one of the two similarly written counts using a form of the word “substantial”.

while employed by the FBI, did willfully participate personally and substantially as such FBI employee, through recommendation, the rendering of advice, and otherwise, in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, in that Neilson recommended and advised that the FBI lease additional space in the Oxford FBI Building.

Now, take a look at this comment from the blogging lawyer of North Mississippi:

I’m being told that “substantial” crops up in two counts in the indictment– that Neilson had to be a “substantial” investor in the business.

Given that he was one of three and had enough in it to take out $50K at one point in some form, I’m puzzled that the jury would stick on that point.

The indictment doesn’t charge Neilson with being a substantial investor!  It charges him with being a substantial participant!

I saw it! Now, do you see it?

The Grasping Hands of Allstate (ALL)

From the latest Allstate (ALL) 10-Q Quarterly SEC Filing


In July 2010, the FASB issued guidance requiring expanded disclosures relating to the credit quality of financing receivables and the related allowances for credit losses.  The new guidance requires a greater level of disaggregated information, as well as additional disclosures about credit quality indicators, past due information and modifications of its financing receivables.  The new guidance is effective for reporting periods ending after December 15, 2010.  The new guidance affects disclosures only; and therefore, the adoption will have no impact on the Company’s results of operations or financial position.

That should get interesting. Continue reading “The Grasping Hands of Allstate (ALL)”

“got it” – the MSSC decision in Lisanby v USAA

Not easy but I finally “got it” – Mississippi Supreme Court decision in USAA v Lisanby – and as I read over the decision, I began to “get it”.

Considering that I’m having one of those “running late and short on time” mornings, I’ll just toss out the decision and a “clue” about  USAA’s “bad faith”: The named defendants in the original Rigsby qui tam Complaint were State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide and (drumroll)…USAA.

Like Ashton, I’d like to see more documents from the docket but they’re not easy to find, particularly when “running late and short on time”.   I’ll continue to look when my day settles down – but, in the meantime, anyone who has information to share can send email with documents attached to Sop. ([email protected])

The jury awarded the plaintiffs more than $900,000 in compensatory damages, but the trial judge directed a verdict in favor of the defendant on the issue of punitive damages. Continue reading ““got it” – the MSSC decision in Lisanby v USAA”