Gone too soon on December 24, 2020. RIP
“You aren’t seriously telling me you came in with this amount of money on a head injury case?”
“Well, let’s call it a start.”
“How about I walk in there and give them that opening and you watch claimant walk right out the door. Do better.”
That’s not a verbatim exchange between Duffy Bloom and I during a mediation but close enough to give you an idea of what you might get if you mediated with him.
Duffy was a gifted mediator. Nine times out of ten I would suggest the “ugly bear” cases be referred to him for handling. Unsurprisingly, claimant’s counsel was usually agreeable. Why? Because Duff ran both sides through the ringer on their cases, dissecting each piece of evidence (having clearly read the entire evidentiary record page-by-page) in order to debate the merits without bias.
You could not pull a “fast one” on Duff. He knew the law and he knew your case – sometimes better than you if you did not do your homework. He gave the hard truths to claimants and employers alike and for that reason he was respected by the Oregon workers’ compensation legal community.
Duff would often say “If you both leave unhappy I’ve done my job.” True. Both sides have to bend sometimes to reach resolution and Duff poked holes, found flaws and proffered legal arguments with expert marksmanship leading to a successful mediation in the end.
I keep thinking of Duff during our breaks at mediation – the downtime while the other side considers an offer or prepares their counter. During those times where we were not barking at each other over the merits of the case we were instead just two people, stuck in a cramped conference room, waiting for the next move. It was during those times that we would engage in vigorous, but friendly, political debate. He would often share his latest tech obsession (I barely understood what he was saying). Sometimes he would make random movie references, which infuriated me because I became obsessed with looking up the obscure reference later that evening. Duff talked a lot about his family, who he clearly loved so very much. Duff talked about his faith and I know that must have given him comfort in the end.
Duff’s time here was too short. He had a brilliant legal mind and was one of the most enthusiastic, entertaining, eclectic fellows I’ve ever known. He never played favorites. Duff just walked into the conference room at a fast clip, grabbed a chair, complained about how his pants were getting too baggy, sat down and dove into the case.
Reinisch Wilson Weier will miss Duffy Bloom. The entire workers’ compensation community in Oregon will miss him. Our hearts go out to all who knew him, including his family and colleagues at the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Fierce. He was fierce. We are sad he is gone but are glad to have known him.