Russell Reiner and Todd Slaughter on stepping up to protect the community
Published in 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine
on July 10, 2018
Updated on May 28, 2019
Russell Reiner and Todd Slaughter see a lot of accident victims in their line of work. Too often, something could have been done to prevent—or at least lessen—the injuries. So in 2012, the personal injury attorneys launched a program called Safety Matters.
“Todd and I decided to look for ways to attempt to give back to the community, and attempt to reduce injuries that we see all the time,” says Reiner, with Reiner, Slaughter, McCartney & Frankel in Redding.
They looked no further than their own case files to decide which safety issues were the most urgent. First came the booster seat giveaway. A 2011 change in California law required children younger than 8 or shorter than 4-foot-9 to be restrained in the seats. The hard truth was that many families in Shasta County could not afford the ones with excellent safety ratings.
“In the cases we’ve seen, a lot of children under that age weren’t in a booster seat,” Reiner says. “Even the ones that were, a lot of times the seats were not very good. Basically, they were almost like you had put a phone book underneath them.”
Reiner and Slaughter did their research, then ordered 500 Britax Parkway SG booster seats and announced a giveaway. On the appointed Saturday, about 750 families appeared.
“It looked like the Oklahoma Land Rush,” Reiner says.
So they ordered more. A total of more than 900 brand-new booster seats found homes. There’s no way to know how many injuries they have prevented, but Reiner says, “What we do know is that all 900 seats went into use immediately, so 900 children were safer than they were before.”
The next year, Reiner and Slaughter decided to tackle teenage texting-while-driving. “We coined a phrase for that campaign,” says Slaughter. “Don’t drive while intexticated.” High school students who signed a pledge, and got their parents to sign, were rewarded with free beverages at their local Dutch Bros drive-through.
Another campaign targeted teens who use Snapchat’s speed filter to send selfies displaying how fast they’re driving. The lawyers approached area high schools to offer a Snapchat filter of their own making—basically an overlay on the mobile phone screen displaying the school’s logo and a reminder not to Snap and drive.
Kids’ helmets for biking and skateboarding were given away another year. This year, in response to the drownings last summer of two children in nearby Shasta Lake, the firm will hand out youth-size life vests.
The lawyers—and the firm—are rooted in their community. Reiner opened the firm 40 years ago, and two decades later invited Slaughter to join him. Both have raised children in Redding, and Reiner has grandchildren growing up there.
After the booster seat giveaway, says Reiner, “I don’t think I’d heard as many times in my life, ‘For what you’ve done, you’ll go to heaven.’”