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From the week of July 11, 2002

Finally, let's render the idea that we can de-fat kids with various government-sponsored programs. My kids are thin, energetic as starving shrews and almost never get to eat in front of the tube, but they always get to watch Dad exercise like a gerbil on meth -- and eat like one, too. Yet I can't get them to walk around the block without twenty feet of chain and a mule, and if I so much as whisper the word "carrot" to them, I find social services banging at the door to investigate child abuse. So what makes the Colorado Governor's Council for Physical Fitness think they can get the kind of lazy, ignorant parents who plop an eight-year-old in front of MTV with a Supergrab of Doritos (and think "exercise" is what they get running to the 'loo to drain off that Suitcase of Classic Coke) to go through the effort it will take to get their kid out on the track? Fat chance.

JM Schell
Arvada


Head Case

Mind over matter:I just wanted to thank you for Alan Prendergast's wonderful article "Hidden Damage," in the June 27 issue. He did a beautiful job of storytelling, including a complete (not romanticized) picture of Ms. McClelland and her dedicated attorneys and their courageous fight for dignity and justice. I was near tears at the end of this remarkable story.

I do hope you will keep your readers informed about the ultimate outcome of this case after the appeals process has run its course.

Arthur C. Jones
Denver

Shrink to fit: I wonder if the "name withheld psychiatrist" -- the would-be brain-injury "expert" whose July 4 letter insinuates that because Sunserea McClelland left high school early (the story doesn't say a thing about her "flunking out," as the letter writer falsely contends) and was married and divorced with two kids by the age of 21, that means she has "significant emotional problems" -- was part of the Snake Farm, oops, I mean, State Farm insurance "dream team" (more like a nightmare) of doctors? Probably not, but I wouldn't be surprised. The similar sort of garbage pushed by Snake Farm and its venal "team" is probably a big reason they lost the case. Not very bright if you think about it.

Congratulations to Greg Gold and Tom Metier for not being intimidated by the bully tactics of Snake Farm and its "I'm coming after you personally!" lawyer John Rodman, and for representing their client in a exemplary fashion.

Derek Douglas
Cleveland, Ohio

Brain drain:I also got a head injury in a car crash; it has been frustrating as heck. I used to be a capable, multitasking maniac, doing many things at once and doing them well. Now I can barely type 45 wpm (I used to type 80-100 wpm). My husband is kind, understanding, patient.

I also have manic depression and sometimes it feels like I am the only person suffering from such brain problems. However, with meds, a good doctor, great husband and faith, I am getting better. I may never be back to the wild, active, high-achieving person I was, but life can be good.

Ms. McClelland sounds like a great person, and I wish her the best of luck. Thank you so much for the story.

Dixie Johnson
Longmont

Silent knight:Alan Prendergast's story was well-written. It is sad that I encounter this every day of my life. I am a "neurolawyer"; for over twenty years I have represented traumatic-brain-injury survivors. They are the silent epidemic. Good job!

Stephen M. Smith
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Worth the read:I'd like to compliment Alan Prendergast on a wonderfully written article. It's rare to find a piece of journalism these days that is truly worth reading; this one was. It was simple but eloquent; it was emotional, but not maudlin. It was detailed, but not dry.

This is easily one of the best stories I have read in years.

William Andrews
Dallas, Texas

The good doctor: Dr. Frederick Miller reminds me of a greedy vulture who seeks to devour the injured. He is also used by the Colorado Department of Corrections. It is a disgrace that he makes a living doing the dirty work for the shameless. It would be interesting to know the amount of "expert witness" work he does, and for whom.

Louella Watkins
Olney Springs

Snake oil: Driving two kids around in an Eclipse? Sunserea McClelland should have been arrested for child neglect.

State Farm is a snake farm. My in-laws were killed by a driver who fell asleep. It took the driver's company, Snake Farm, nine months to pay the policy limit for the elder of the two, since the company tried to say that the older you are, the less we should have to pay. If the driver had not died, we would have gone for more.

And State Farm was the victims' insurer, too!

Nick Werle
Colorado Springs

Trial by ire:Thanks for a terrific article exposing what is going on in literally thousands of cases every day across the country. In my experience as a trial attorney, most journalists just don't get it when it comes to civil-justice issues, and it was refreshing to know that at last one writer understands exactly what's going on.

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