Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Students Save Law Prof's Life

Buffalo News, Compassionate Law Students Overrule Judge and Save His Life:

Seven University at Buffalo Law School students get high grades from State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., their professor, not necessarily for legal knowledge but compassion.

Kloch was teaching the students in his trial technique class on an evening about two weeks ago at the Amherst Campus when his left knee started acting up from recent surgery to repair the damaged joint. Unexpectedly, a wave of weakness overtook him and he sat at his desk, hoping to carry on with the class. “I called the class to a halt because of the pain. It was overwhelming. I tried to get up and I couldn’t move. The knee swelled easily to three times its size and got concrete hard,” Kloch said. ...

The judge had wanted to drive himself to the nearest emergency room. “So these students picked me up and carried me outside, commandeered a shuttle bus to drive me to my car on the opposite side of campus,” Kloch recalled during an interview from his bed at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. ...

“But the bus driver said, ‘This man is in no shape to drive himself.’ Then they summoned security and security called an ambulance and I was taken to DeGraff Memorial Hospital,” Kloch, 58, said. At the North Tonawanda facility, doctors sedated him and drained the knee, which was stricken with a fast-moving infection that included a massive clot which could have had catastrophic consequences had it shifted to another section of his body. ...

“I would have never had a chance if it wasn’t for those seven law school students,” said Kloch, overcome with emotion. “Lawyers are supposed to be compassionate, and these future lawyers were compassionate. They did the greatest job for me when they could have walked right out the door.”

(Hat Tip: ABA Journal.)

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Bill Shakespeare? Was he related to BoBo Bittker?

Posted by: mike livingston | Sep 29, 2009 6:55:37 PM

Everyone hates lawyers until they need one. Well done, little lawyers!

Posted by: Marie | Sep 29, 2009 4:18:32 PM

The story is a bit odd, all in all. It is a good thing that law students go into law rather than medicine. Many lives are saved that way, all though frivolous lawsuits appear out the gazoo.

Posted by: Goo Goo Pai | Sep 29, 2009 4:01:18 PM

Best Comments......EVAH!

Posted by: Chipper | Sep 29, 2009 3:27:17 PM

to reprise an earlier comment...Bill Shakespeare got it right in Henry VI Part 2....LOL, but seriously, perhaps we have far too many lawyers too many lawyers and way too much of a "legal" mindset, when one of the first comments was to sue...even if meant in jest, it is suggestive of a societal illness wherein sueing someone becomes a kneejerk reaction to all situations. It's good for lawyers, but bad for society.

Posted by: Rich Vail | Sep 29, 2009 1:10:46 PM

Oh great. Now the definition of "compassion" is being dummied down to include saving lawyers. This country is going straight to the crapper.

Posted by: Tim | Sep 29, 2009 12:40:39 PM

To fully earn an A in the class, the enterprising students should have called an ambulance, so they would have had something to chase. Show some lawyerly initiative

Posted by: Dan D | Sep 29, 2009 12:29:48 PM

Nice to see a lawyer appreciating an ambulance instead of chasing it.

Posted by: mark c | Sep 29, 2009 12:17:56 PM

Such things are not as unusual. The medieval historian Robert L. Benson had a stroke in the middle of an undergraduate lecture at Yale and died a few days later without recovering consciousness.

Posted by: Cinco Jotas | Sep 29, 2009 11:08:39 AM

Let me get this straight. A person is stricken with great pain and a physical disability shortly after a surgery and the students are commended because they "could have walked right out the door" instead of helping? Maybe it's just my non-lawyer perspective, but I would consider helping any person, much less one known personally, in this situation as the only normal and humane thing to do.

I can understand the professor's gratitude, but as I see it anything less than what these students did would have been downright callous and beastly.

Posted by: submandave | Sep 29, 2009 11:06:18 AM

Won't this just encourage more of this behavior?

Posted by: RE Ramcharan | Sep 29, 2009 10:49:20 AM

Instructors in evening classes should know what to do in emergencies. They should also make sure students know what to do, in case the instructor is incapacitated.

Find out whether there is an emergency communication device that can be activated to alert campus security. If there is no emergency communication device, make sure campus security's phone number is posted near the classroom telephone. If there is no classroom telephone, make sure there is a cell phone available and that it can send a signal from the classroom. If cell phones don't work in the classroom, know where to go outside to get a signal.

It's great the prof's life was saved, and the students undoubtedly did what they could think of to do. But I too think it could have been done more efficiently.

Posted by: Kate | Sep 29, 2009 10:48:52 AM

The knee swelled easily to three times its size and got concrete hard,” Kloch said. ...

They still thought he, with "overwhelming" pain and a stiff knee, could drive himself to the hospital? They may have compassion, but no sense.

Posted by: ic | Sep 29, 2009 10:46:48 AM

Unless you're a member of the Dead Poets Society, how many chances do students get to carry their teacher around?

Posted by: Real American | Sep 29, 2009 10:45:26 AM

um, technically wasn't it the doctors who saved his life?

Posted by: guest | Sep 29, 2009 10:43:15 AM

Wow, tough crowd!

But, yeah, the shuttle bus driver gets short-changed in this report.

Posted by: tim maguire | Sep 29, 2009 10:42:58 AM

Sue them? Hopefully this was just a sarcastic line.
The students were not likely trained in First Aid (first tenet is Check Call Care), but they should be covered by Good Samaritan law anyway. A reasonable person would not consider a knee injury life-threatening, and conscious adults can direct what level of assistance they wish to receive.

Posted by: Lockestep | Sep 29, 2009 10:42:54 AM

No no, the students picked him up and carried him outside so they could hang him. If that pesky shuttle driver, showing standard intelligence, hadn't interfered, we would have seen real legal compassion.

Posted by: Gregory Koster | Sep 29, 2009 10:41:27 AM

Nice story with a good ending. Kudos to all involved.

Posted by: AJ Lynch | Sep 29, 2009 10:17:23 AM

A real lawyer would sue the students for endangering his life and not calling 911 or an ambulance first. A class in compassion.

Posted by: Moron | Sep 29, 2009 10:06:32 AM

Seems to me that clever law students would have called for an ambulance themselves instead of causing such a ruckus by carrying the poor man all over creation.

Posted by: Skyler | Sep 29, 2009 10:03:57 AM

Actually, it sounds like the Shuttle Bus driver was the one who really saved the Prof's life by noticing that the Prof. was in no condition to drive. The students would have left him at his car.

Posted by: Rob | Sep 29, 2009 9:49:12 AM