I'm gonna be real, the only things I know about being a lawyer are from watching Better Call Saul. And Always Sunny, but specifically for learning about bird law. But if there's anything I do know about the courtroom, it's that the weirdest laws can be pulled out of thin air to drastically change a case's verdict.
Lawyer up, my dudes. Here are some of the strangest courtroom stories. Thejoms asked:
Lawyers/Solictors, what is the strangest or oddest law that's won a case for you?
We’re about to learn about some very niche laws. Buckle up.
That’s one way to not go bankrupt.
“I had a client with a serious medical problem that cost her her job, and she was preparing to file bankruptcy on the medical bills and credit card debts.
Thing was, she had like $15,000 socked away and didn't tell me. It was all that was left of her life savings. Before we filed her case she gave it to her mom for safe keeping. What she didn't know is that she could have kept the money through the bankruptcy… but giving it away beforehand is a no-no.
I had to tell the court when I found out, and when this happens the court gets the right to sue the mom for the $15,000. The thing is, the mom's debt to her daughter's bankruptcy court? Also dischargeable in bankruptcy. So the mom filed bankruptcy too, and they got to keep the money after all.”
Nice work.episode 5 book GIFGiphy
“I got a pro bono client's removal by USCIS cancelled. He had a low-level drug possession conviction from the early 1980s. During that brief period, the active ingredient of Imodium was illegal under state law but not federal law. So I successfully argued that they couldn't prove it wasn't a conviction for possession of a substance that was federally legal at the time, and as such was not subject to removal. The argument worked and my guy went back to his business and his family."
This is the best story I’ve ever read.
“The weirdest case I have ever dealt with was *Joly v Palletier, *  O.J. No. 1728 (S.C.J).
I did some research for this case when I was a law student.
Some background: this was at a time when the Ontario Court of Appeal had held that, if there were any factual matters in dispute, a case could not be dismissed on summary judgment. That is not the case today - it was discovered that this position basically ruined summary judgment as a useful process - but it was at the time. In such a motion, all facts alleged by he plaintiff would be assumed to be true …
What happened was this: a man sued, among others, the College of Dental Surgeons - for "persecuting him" and interfering in his ability to live as a "generic Martian". The plaintiff claimed he had been cloned from space debris NASA found in the 1960s. He claimed he had a genetic test to prove this, but it had been falsified by the CIA as part of the conspiracy against him.
Well, naturally, this claim raises the concern that the plaintiff was bonkers, but there was no evidence (aside from his bizarre claims) of that.
In court, the case was decided on two alternate grounds - first on the boring grounds that the case was patently frivolous and vexatious because it was absurd.
However, it was also decided on the more entertaining basis of standing. Justice Epstein held that only a "person" could commence an action in Ontario. The Rules of Civil Procedure define a "person" to be either a human being, or a corporation. The plaintiff's whole case was based on him being a Martian. If he was not a Martian, his case had no merit. If he was a Martian, he lacked standing to commence a lawsuit in Ontario!
In short, we now have precedent that Martians cannot sue in Ontario.”
Now THAT’S a loophole.
“I had a case where a guy was charged for running a red light. The thing is, he had been sitting at the lights for 5 minutes and it hadn't changed. The wording of the specific section under which he was charged related to stop signs and traffic lights and referred to them as ‘traffic regulation devices’. I successfully argued that as the traffic light wasn't changing, it wasn't regulating traffic and he got off. I couldn't believe it when the judge ruled in my favour, neither could the police prosecutor!”
These lawyers really took the phrase “lawyer up” seriously. They know their sh*t.
But why would you fax that to a law firm?90s thumbs up GIFGiphy
“47 U.S.C. 227(b) (restrictions on use of automated telephone equipment)
Law student working at law-firm. We have a fax machine that gets tons of spam faxes.
Our chief partner has a vendetta against spam, and he uses it to give us practice in researching and writing petitions. So we catalog each fax, send replies to take us off the list, document everything and wait for them to fax us again. Then we follow up with a FCC complaint and demand letter. A couple times this has ended up with the person getting mad and sending us retaliatory faxes (black sheets of paper).
If they stop sending we don't do anything, but we've gone to small claims a couple time, and gotten $500 per page a couple times.
We also got someone trying to sell drugs thru fax but we just turned that over to the police.”
People Share The Scariest Thing They've Ever Experienced While Home Alone | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
This is a weird one.
“There was a case here in Hawaii that got thrown out like this. Someone got pulled over because the police saw she had way too many passengers in the car. Then they noticed she was drunk. Open and shut case. Well, apparently in Hawaii, there's no law defining the maximum number of passengers in a private vehicle, so the issue was that all the extra passengers weren't wearing seatbelts. Well, this failed also, because the law only says that every available seatbelt needs to be in use. If you have six passengers and only five seatbelts, there's nothing at all illegal about the sixth being unrestrained.
So, since there was no probable cause to pull her over in the first place, even though she was indefensibly drunk, the whole thing got thrown out. Hawaii has some very counterintuitive laws. If your truck has seats installed in the bed, your passengers must be buckled up. If not, they can just party back there, while anyone in the cab unbuckled would get you a major ticket. People regularly ride down the freeway in truck beds while sitting in lawn chairs.”
This lawyer understood the assignment.
“I won a case where the defendant (New York City) tried to exploit a really stupid law, which I was able to use to win the case. This was a slip and fall case where my client had tripped on a piece of broken sidewalk outside of the Natural History Museum and shattered her arm and wrist. The law is that a property owner is responsible for the sidewalk directly outside of their property, the theory being even if they can't fix it, the have a duty to warn people about hazards and mark the area off.
The museum was owned by the city. There's another concept called sovereign immunity, which is that governments can't be sued without their consent. So the city had passed a very, very stupid law that they would be exempted from the rule that they can't be sued for sidewalk injuries unless you can show they were on notice of hazard. Meaning, you would have to show that you informed the Secretary of State/Governor/Mayor etc. of the exact specific crack in the sidewalk before the injury occurs, and you had to do so in writing with ample time for the city to remedy it (180 days in advance IIRC). Under normal circumstances, this is impossible because no one anticipates tripping on the sidewalk 180 days in advance with the foresight to write a letter to the mayor about that specific crack.
Luckily, someone did have that foresight, and there was a non-profit called Big Apple Maps which would go around the city and with maps of government property and record with insane specificity each and every crack in the side walk, pothole, protrusion, and other hazard, and then publish these maps while serving copies on the government, with the express purpose of combatting sovereign immunity defenses in slip and fall cases against the government. I got ahold of one of these maps and visited the site, and I was able to take pictures of the section of the sidewalk where my client fell, and you could see newly placed concrete over the area in the exact position indicated on the map, showing where the sidewalk had been repaired after my client slipped.
Basically, the government's attorney brought up the sovereign immunity defense and outlined all of the stupid steps I would have needed to go through to overcome their motion to dismiss. My response was "oh you mean this?" and gave them the map.
The long arm of the law apparently extends very, very far, to some very weird places.
Get that big check.hand it over GIF by ObamaGiphy
“Early in my career I had a fairly minor case in which my client's neighbor cut down a bunch of shrubs and small trees bordering their properties because they blocked his view. This really irritated my client as he wanted his privacy.
Now, the monetary damages were actually not that much and this was looking like a case that really couldn't be economically litigated for what the client could afford. However, in researching the issue I found a rather obscure law that provides for attorneys' fees to a winning Plaintiff when a Defendant has willfully damaged the "border" foliage of a "ranch" or "farm." In looking up the definition of these terms I realized that my client's property actually qualified for the statute as he used his land for growing a variety of produce for market.
Once attorneys' fees were on the table the other side quickly caved and wrote a big check to cover the damages.”
A lucky turn of events.
“Over 10 years ago, I had been at fault for rearending someone else. I had no insurance and my license had expired. I don't think I need to mention that I was in a very destitute, low place in life, struggling with almost every conceivable aspect of living.
The cop was very kind as we talked, but wrote me a ticket for it all. One was kind of a fix-it ticket about my suspended license. I sorted that out in the days after and nothing came of that ticket. The cop had mentioned that he HAD to write the insurance ticket, but to take it into court and get it lowered.
I was desperate to try and get my $800 insurance ticket lowered because I couldn't afford something like that. So I took the cop's advice.
I went in to traffic court weeks later and when it was my time to chat with the judge in front of everyone there, the judge looked at the ticket, stopped me and said, "I would like to use Mr. Southseattle's case as an example to the gallery." I almost died. He went on, "this is a court of law, but it is also a court of fairness. It seems as if the officer didn't write the date of the incident in the ticket. I can't hold Mr. Southseattle accountable to this."
My jaw dropped. I stood there. The judge told me I was free to go twice before it registered.
I'm pretty sure that cop deliberately didn't write the date on that ticket. Thanks, officer.”
Another lucky one.
“In 2016, prison inmate John Modie was charged with escaping from the prison in which he was incarcerated, which is a crime in Ohio. The prosecution, however, failed to establish that the Hocking Correctional Facility (and therefore the crime) was located within the court's jurisdiction of Hocking County, as all witnesses potentially able to offer testimony on the prison's location had gone home for the day, and, incredibly, no one remaining could provide references allowing the court to take judicial notice of the prison's location. The charges against Modie were dismissed, and he was allowed to... return to prison to serve his sentence (but at least without additional charges concerning his alleged escape).”
These next few clients truly got lucky with the lawyers they chose.
Oops.GIF by Paramount MoviesGiphy
“Not my story but one of my teacher's stories. He was taking attendance and someone was absent, but the other students told him that the kid was in another classroom finishing his test, so the teacher marked him as present. Turns out the kid skipped that class and was robbing a gas station nearby.
When he gets arrested and goes to court, they look at the records and see that the kid was marked as present in class during the time of the robbery. Because he was marked present in class, the kid won the case even though there was clear security camera footage showing him robbing the store.”
“I won a case based on the declared dead statute in Montana. The case turned on whether a missing person was legally dead or not-insurance pay outs, essentially. Plaintiff tried to have him declared legally dead, but the statute required more than 3 years since last contact (unless there was evidence otherwise). It hadn't been 3 years yet, so the missing guy wasn't legally dead yet, and the group I represented was no longer on the hook to pay out death benefits (for another 2 years).
This is one of the reasons I left this particular practice--fighting over benefits that you will have to pay eventually felt scummy to me.”
“Okay, the statute says consumers have standing to make a claim for improper debt collection.
A consumer is defined as a ‘natural person who owes or allegedly owes a debt.’
If you file bankruptcy your personal obligation for the debt is discharged (i.e. you can't be sued for the debt). But if the debt is secured (like a car loan or mortgage) if the debt isn't paid, you can lose the property in foreclosure.
So, if you had your debt discharged in bankruptcy you do not owe a debt and therefore do not have standing under the statute, even though practically speaking you still have to pay the debt to make sure you're not kicked out of your house. I won, but at the end of the day, this feels like a loophole in the statute.”
The best birthday present you can get.bart simpson GIFGiphy
“This just reminded me that I have something relevant. When I was 17 I was really into doing beer runs with friends (stealing is bad!) and finally, after more than a year of these at various grocery stores and gas stations, someone follows me out and calls in my license plate number. Hilarity ensues because I'm driving my dad's car, they show up at my house, they direct them to the friend's house I'm at, cops crash our party, lots of tickets given out. I was severely grounded until my Juvenile Court case in one month.
Between the incident and the court date, I turned 18.
I showed up to the building on time and saw all of the kids involved and their parents. I was actually the first called in. They very quickly told me that I'd be seeing a parole officer around a hallway, which was scary.
My parents and I sat down and she flat-out said that because I was an adult, they couldn't try me in juvenile court. I was asked to pay $60 and that was that. None of the kids involved talk to me to this day (I'm 35) as they had to do alcohol awareness classes and ~150 hours of community service and it created a huge rift which, to be fair, is for the best, as they were mega hooligans and I don't need that.”
This is wild.
“NAL but personal experience.
NJ:2C 2-4 "Ignorance and Mistake*
I was living in New Jersey when my car insurance lapsed. It was a banking error that resulted in the premium not being paid.
I got a notice from my insurance that my insurance was cancelled and that they would be notifying the state. The same day I got on the phone with the insurance and corrected the mistake and got a new policy.
The day after that I was driving to work and pulled over. They told me my license was suspended, ticketed me and maybe wait until someone came to pick up my car or they were going to tow it.
Two days later I noticed from the DMV shows up at my door saying that my license was suspended after the received notice that I had no insurance on my car. That I would have to take a new policy and bring it down to the DMV to have reinstated.
When I went to court to fight the tickets, I argue with the judge that the postmark of the DMV notice was the same day as my ticket and I couldn't have known that my license was suspended. That I had reinstated my insurance by that time.
I had made a mistake by driving being ignorant my license was suspended and did not have "Mens Rea"., Citing the NJ:2C 2-4 permanent statute.
The judge tossed the original tickets and reduced it to failure to produce documentation at a traffic stop.”
The lawyers in these stories are truly good at what they do. Find the right one, and you’ll get a nice, hefty settlement check.
There’s a reason why these folks go to school for eight years. Seriously.
Trump Spent 'A Fortune' Fumigating Mar-A-Lago After Visit From Republican Operative With AIDS, New Book Claims
A new book called The Fixers revealed that Donald Trump once had all the dinnerware from Mar-A-Lago fumigated after his political mentor and personal lawyer Roy Cohn attended the resort for a farewell dinner.
Cohn was dying from AIDS-related complications at the time and died in 1986.
He was 49.
The Fixers is an investigative book authored by Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld and portrays Trump's relationships with various "fixers" like lawyers Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani; and publishing magnate David Pecker, who enabled Trump's ascent to power.
The title of a new book sums up Trump's "presidency" perfectly..."THE FIXERS: The Bottom Feeders, Crooked Lawyers,… https://t.co/vbNfHq86DU— Dana (@Dana) 1578924040.0
In the book, the journalists claimed that Trump regaled his guests at Mar-A-Lago in November 2016 with a joke referencing the late Cohn, "whose homosexuality and promiscuity were an open secret."
During the dinner in preparation for his presidency, the authors quoted Trump reminiscing:
"I had to spend a fortune to fumigate all the dishes and silverware."
Trump Had Mar-a-Lago Fumigated After Visit from AIDS-Afflicted ‘Fixer’ and 'Friend' Roy Cohn: BOOK… https://t.co/rECCa9GVTQ— Dane B. McFadhen (@Dane B. McFadhen) 1579534510.0
Cohn was a high-profile lawyer who registered as a Democrat but represented Republican presidents.
The pugnacious attorney also worked with the likes of mob bosses, politicians, and is notorious for representing anti-communist Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy during the "Lavender Scare" investigation in the 1950s.
Cohn's combative temperament and aggressive dealings of legal and political matters are known to have had a huge influence on the real-estate mogul while he represented him during the 70s and 80s.
The book mentioned their relationship.
"Cohn had had a great influence on Trump, but the two had been simpatico from the outset; Cohn had merely taken Trump's natural inclinations and refined them."
In later years, the book claimed that Trump had "distanced himself" from Cohn after he fell ill.
Despite Cohn's controversial reputation, people denounced Trump's lampooning of the lawyer.
@bluerdazacomin @kjking53 Sounds about right. #FatFool— KimSeattle (@KimSeattle) 1579406847.0
@bluerdazacomin Are we reeeally sure Trump is actually a human being? Evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.— Smarcastical 🌊 (@Smarcastical 🌊) 1579311135.0
@bluerdazacomin @morgfair who's going to fumigate the WH after trump leaves?— jim fields (@jim fields) 1579328266.0
The Wall Street Journal published an extract from the book, including this passage depicting Cohn as someone who:
"manipulated the media and the legal system to secure business advantages for Mr Trump."
Trump Had Mar-a-Lago Fumigated After Visit from AIDS-Afflicted ‘Fixer’ Roy Cohn: BOOK https://t.co/EnpUq4HiyF https://t.co/gSl5q7Oal2— Daily Resist (@Daily Resist) 1579526073.0
"He cast his client as a fabulously successful developer who transformed his father's collection of low-end apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens into a Manhattan-based empire of luxury condominium towers.
"Mr Trump's views of media and celebrity were shaped by Cohn and his successors, the men he relied on to project a particular version of himself – one that often bore little resemblance to reality.
The Fall of Donald Trump’s Fixers The mogul-turned-president has long relied on loyalists to push the limits in def… https://t.co/6k7wtzPmaD— Karol Cummins (@Karol Cummins) 1578676380.0
"Their careers with Mr Trump shed light on his rise in public life and his victory in the 2016 presidential election."
Considering the era of fear with the uninformed public as a result of the AIDS epidemic, some vouched for Trump's alleged fumigation tactic.
@Newsweek Fumigate? Just throw them out! And btw in the 80s AIDS was a damn scary thing! People thought a handshake… https://t.co/ibkwSuO4fH— L (@L) 1579360077.0
@Newsweek I would have steamed the place too!— BostonBluNeck (@BostonBluNeck) 1579357025.0
@Newsweek Well, during the 80's people knew little about Aids and everybody was really scared, just let him visit M… https://t.co/SEQhowCp3p— letsbefranks (@letsbefranks) 1579358302.0
Still, the insensitive nature of the comment certainly rubbed people the wrong way.
@Newsweek That's the kind of people and attitude that didn't care as thousands died!— Dewrob (@Dewrob) 1579420814.0
Another passage from The Fixers reads:
"Trump called Cohn to check in as his illness progressed, though they weren't working together anymore."
Since its release on January 14, the book has already generated much praise. New York Times bestselling author John Carreyrou wrote:
"Of the dozens of books chronicling Donald Trump's presidency, The Fixers is destined to sit atop the pile."
"It has everything you look for in a political page-turner: Colorful characters, intrigue, sex, corruption and—unlike much of the Trump canon—meticulous, factual reporting by two ace reporters. What a read!"
When my grandfather passed away, it fell to my grandmother to execute his will. He wasn't a wealthy man, so we weren't dealing in money here.
Instead, we were talking about things that had sentimental value. The items all made sense to us, but to a lawyer or another outsider it would have seemed strange to see a nail clipper and a ziploc bag of sea shells in a will.
Or maybe not. Reddit user shrimpthepimp asked:
And it turns out that "weird" stuff ends up in wills all the time!
Worked in a place that did wills and trusts.
One guy put aside a bunch of money to split between any of his old girlfriends that came to his funeral! The dude tried to name a few but could not come up with more than four plus a couple first names from high school! The lawyers try to steer them away from this junk but it was less than $25kUSD.
No Contact Contract
I administered trusts and estates for 35 years with a large national bank.
I had one trust where a woman left a ton of money to her grandkids. They got all the income the from her assets over the years and the trusts fully distributed to them at age 35. Except for one grandson.
He was gay and the grandmother believed that a particular individual was responsible for "turning" him that way. For him to get his inheritance, we had verify that he was not in contact with his ex-lover once each year. If he was found to be in contact with him, his funds would be withheld for the following year until he could prove he was no longer seeing the guy. If he ever formed what seemed like a lasting relationship with the man again, his portion of the inheritance was revoked and to be distributed to the other grandkids.
We used to get a signed statement from the kid each year and that was enough for the probate court to approve the money.
A few years later, courts started allowing people to remove provisions like these that seemed ridiculous to have to adhere to. The beneficiary and the bank went to court and we asked that the provision no longer be followed. The judge agreed that it was too much "control from the grave" and let the provision be struck down.
We don't know if he went back to his old lover after that.
Someone willed their Eve online video game account. It was worth thousands apparently.
He had no family, so he willed it to one of his friends... and one of his other friends threw a fit. So we ended up with two grown ass men fighting over an online game account.
We found out a couple of years later that friend 2 turned in friend one to the game's admins and moderators. The account got taken away from . Apparently they deemed it a terms of service violation or something.
Not a lawyer but my buddy is one. Couple months ago he said an older lady had asked him to include something quite peculiar. She had left the instructions for her family to decorate the family Christmas tree.
The weird thing was that her daughter in law was the only one allowed to put ornaments on the tree and her granddaughter was supposed to put the star on top. After she had passed (about a week later) he read the will to the family, and a bunch of drama followed.
Pretty weird will if you ask me.
Buried With Their Best Friends
Elderly women deciding that their pets - no matter their age or health - should be immediately put down when they die so that they can be buried/cremated with them is shockingly common.
Year Of The Beard
My cousin is a lawyer and apparently one guy grows out his beard all year long before shaving it on New Year's Day and saves it in a bag with the year written on it. He has in his will that certain years go to certain grand-kids because that was the year they were born, got married, Etc.
The rest are to be raffled off equally to all of his decedents.
Why does he think they even want his beard hair?
For the Polyjuice Potion
Read The Letter
This lady included a clause in her will stating that 1 of her 3 daughters wasn't allowed to get anything in the will, and to read the letter that was annexed to the will to find out why. I never got to see the letter since I'm the paralegal but I thought it was super odd.
The Scandal Sheet
When my very wealthy, Catholic grandfather died in 1983, his will read like a scandal sheet. He didn't just bequeath or withhold: he listed reasons why. My cousin Aaron was born out of wedlock so he was SOL. Another family member had her lovers named then received no money.
Someone else had a good job and was raising a family "the right way" (Catholic) so he was awarded money. Never mind that he was the biggest asshole on the Earth.
I was only 13 (and born to married parents) so I received $5,000.
He gave most of his millions to charity so some good came of it.
Rooms For Life
A quite wealthy man willed specific rooms in his mansion. That is, the house was not to be sold or inherited, but designated people were given use of specific rooms for their lifetime.
Take Care Of The DogsGiphy
Wealthy women left 1 million dollars in trust for the care of her dogs. Her two sons and daughters, however, were each given exactly only $10,000. That was the amount of the loan the woman had initially received from her father to help her grow her wealth.
Practicing law certainly isn't easy. Many years of law school, often followed by further study, and more studying required for each individual case makes it an extremely time consuming career.
Every once in a while, the other party in the case does something that makes a lawyer's job much easier, though.
It could be accidentally admitting fault, or messing up when relaying a story that shows it was a lie, or just generally being a jerk in court.
Reddit user u/MagMains asked:
I acted for a plumber who ripped up a tile floor to replace a pipe. He installed new tile on top but warned the owners not to walk on it for 48 hours. He emphasized not to let their kids or their dogs walk on it either. They walked on it but alleged the defects were caused by improper install. We had an expert do a report which confirmed that it was consistent with proper installation but people walking on it too soon. Crazy homeowners still went to trial on it.
In their evidence disclosure they included a series of pictures. One of the pictures had in the foreground a tile that was tilted upwards. The background very clearly showed a dog's paw pressing down on the other end of the tile. That wasn't so much an I got them situation as they got themselves.
My client was a woman working at a meat packing plant. Her glove (they would only give her the loose kind because they were cheaper) got caught in the machine and she lost her arm. We sued the owners of the plant for the glove issue. We also sued the machine manufacturer for failing to include the required guard. Then we sued the distributor for being in the chain of the sale but didn't really think they played much of a role. The manufacturer swore they included a hand guard and said the plant owner must have used a grinder to take it off. During a deposition of the guy that owned the distraction company he shows up with the sale documents he was supposed to have turned over weeks before.
Turns out there was a note in small print at the bottom he didn't know about that said the sale was without the hand guard. Which is against the law. I pointed it out and we ended up settling that afternoon with the distributor. The woman got all her medical bills paid, got money for a prosthetic and got a bunch of pain and suffering damages.
Not a lawyer but a legal videographer. This gentleman was claiming injuries/seeking damages against his employer after a fall at work. He claimed he couldn't raise his right arm above his shoulder because of the fall. First deposition comes along and I am hired by defendant's attorney to videotape deposition of the plaintiff. Anyone know THE FIRST THING a court reporter asks you to do in a deposition?
"Please raise your right hand and repeat after me..."
Plaintiff raises his right arm above his shoulder with ease and no sign of discomfort, does not occur to him what he has just done. Both attorneys were looking down at their notes when this happened and neither of them caught it. The plaintiff himself didn't catch it.
The court reporter looked at him and then looked at me and her eyes went wide with realization at what just happened. 4 hours of deposition proceed where in the plaintiff is instructed (multiple times) to show his range of motion and precedes to pretend like he can't raise his arm above shoulder level which he did at the very beginning of his deposition.
Deposition ends, plaintiff's counsel leaves, I call defense (hiring party) counsel over and show him the first 2 mins of tape, counsel excitedly whispers to me, "case closed, you just saved us tens of thousands of dollars". I got a $5,000 bonus and plaintiff's case was dismissed with prejudice.
This is so petty - I've had much bigger moments, but because of the character of the other side this will always be my favourite. Doing a boundary dispute, a squabble over what was essentially a few inches of land. OS was a lawyer, and an absolute arsehole. He was acting for himself - the whole 'a lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client' thing was bang on for him. But he was a deeply unpleasant guy, a bully who thought that he was the smartest guy in the room.
Part of his case hinged on wheelie bins and how prior to the boundary having been moved there wasn't space to store a full size bin beside the house. The fact you now could meant clearly the boundary must have moved. That was the extent of his evidence, it really was thin stuff.
During the actual trial he pulled a fast one by suddenly producing an old aerial photo ostensibly to show the boundary at the front of the property had also moved (a fast one because you have to disclose stuff like that in advance, you can't just sit on something relevant and then suddenly whip it out at trial with a flourish).
Whilst he was making his submissions that it should be admissable, I looked more closely at it, away from the bit of the boundary he said it was relevant to and realised that it very clearly showed a wheelie bin in exactly the spot his case said there couldn't be one. Told the judge we were happy for the photo be admitted after all, got the other side to confirm the date it was taken, then pointed out he'd just completely screwed his case.
That photo did him for nearly 50k in adverse costs. Couldn't happen to a more deserving chap.
I had client whose 60k car was ruined by a shop that put in the wrong oil. We couldn't prove it at first, the engine blew up, oil leaked out and evidence was lost. I subpoenaed their bank records, figured out they bought their oil from Costco. Called Costco and got the their prices for the last two years. I then worked out the amounts they were spending, did some backhand math, and showed based on the values it was impossible they had ever bought the right oil. They settled in full immediately.
Worked as Paralegal/investigator. Working a trade secrets case involving the manufacture of dental wheels used to grind teeth. Long story, but go with it...
Company A was a small family owned manufacturer but made the best product on the market from a small factory in the middle of nowhere. Sold massive amounts of product because of quality. It's location was remote enough and the owner paid employees so well, the employees stayed there FOREVER. All of them had worked there for 30+ years. When the founder of Company A died, it was sold to International Company B because the kids and grandkids had no interest in the company. Company B then closed the old factory and tried to use company A's formula at their facilities. Company B couldn't make the formula work...
Now enter Company C... Another international company who lost the bid on buying company A.
When company C heard about the problems Company B was having, they bought the old factory facilities and then rehired the old staff to restart production. All the employees of old company A were delighted to have their good paying jobs back and went straight to work. Producing the better quality items once again and Company C's product worked.
Company B... Sues company C, for trade secrets violation. When you buy a company, you buy their trade secrets. And this company had a bunch. This product was just one part.
But the most profitable part of their operation. Thus, company C, because of their action, was accused of violating the laws governing trade secrets.... Company B even managed to get a temporary restraining order against company C in Federal Court and Company C had to stop manufacturering at the old plant now owned.
This is when I enter the picture...
Our firm represented Company C an I was assigned to interview all the employees. I was in the living room of this delightful older lady in her late 50's that offered me snacks, asked me if I was married and wanted to set me up with her granddaughter, you name it...BEST AND FUNNIEST INTERVIEW EVER...
Then she drops the bomb. I asked her how she knew how to make the product. All my previous interviews said so and so taught them. She said.... "From the directions on the wall." Total moment of silence.
"Directions on the WALL?"
"Yes" she said, "no one ever looks at'm. But there is a board on the wall with the directions."
I call the janitor of the facility from her phone (yeah, this is before cell phones) and had him meet me there. He unlocks the place and yep, covered in probably 40 years of dust making it just part of the background, is a board with the entire process on it..
Thus, when company B sold the factory, which was eventually purchased by company C, company B accidentally sold the trade secret to company C because they abandoned it on the wall.
I did serious evidence sourcing on this. My best pictures were of this 65+ year old former janitor knocking the dust off the pages, taking the entire board off the wall, putting it in paper bag, and sealing it so I never touched it. Every picture he smiled for the camera... His FU expression was priceless in every picture. They were so freaking funny.
The judge in Federal Court was laughing his ass off when he heard the details of what I found to reverse the restraining order. When he opened the bag, he laughed even more.
The factory reopened immediately. Company B and C settled by agreeing that they both got to use the trade secret but couldn't sell it to anyone else.
What they really figured out was... Those little old ladies had slightly changed the formula over the years and slightly made them better over time. Even the formula on the wall didn't work as well as these little ladies did.
My brother is an attorney. He had a case where the guy said he was permanently disabled from a work accident. At a deposition my brother overheard the guy talking about getting his house remodeled. He was already spending the money he thought he was getting. My brother drove by the house to see how much work was being done and saw the guy carrying bundles of roofing shingles up a ladder to the roof. This was before smart phones so he drove to a Best Buy and bought a video camera, went back and recorded the guy. He had copies made and sent to the other attorney. The guy dropped the suit and was back at work the following Monday. My brother's client didn't want to pay for the video camera. He saved them thousands of dollars. They eventually paid but he still gets a little peeved when he talks about it.
Not so much a gotcha as it is the defendant giving themselves up. When I worked for insurance defense I handled a fraud case where a man reported his Rolex as being stolen. He was adamant that he was at a hotel and it was stolen. He has shown no proof of being in a hotel so it's flagged. We go through the whole proces and finally reached depositions. He gets sworn in and eventually let out that he wasn't at a hotel but rather with his mistress and he had left it at her house. His wife noticed he didn't have it on so he immediately claims it must've been stolen etc etc. This man decided to hire an attorney and go through this whole circus just so his wife wouldnt find out about his affair. Needless to say the claim was denied.
The first case I ever did, opposing counsel misplaced the copy of my client's drivers license. Rather than admitting his mistake and asking me to resend it, he filed a motion to compel, claiming we never sent it. Well I was able to provide proof that we'd sent it to him like 8 months ago, so the judge was rather displeased with his antics
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Plaintiff alleged he was so injured in an auto accident that he couldn't work, do any regular activities, or pick up his young kids. He then posted on his public FB profile him doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you're not familiar, he basically lifted a huge cooler filled with ice water over his head. His attorney had no idea he had posted it.
Lady got into a minor fender bender with a truck in a casino parking lot (she backed out of a spot into him). My guy said she parked and went inside the casino for a few hours. At her deposition, she testified that she was so hurt she went right home and to a hospital. I asked if she was a frequent visitor of casino, and if she had a rewards card. She was happy to tell me she did and she had gold status, and showed me the card.
I subpoenaed her rewards cards records, and it showed she was playing slots for hours after the accident.
Plaintiff had an x-ray of an allegedly broken arm. It seemed off to me and the dates didn't make sense (I was in-house at an academic medical center). I looked at the case more closely and discovered the Plaintiff was a x-ray tech at another hospital. After that, it was all over.
My client's house burned down from an explosion in the fuel oil tank used to heat the house. It was clearly the oil maintenance company's fault, but his homeowners insurance (from a very reputable company) still refused to pay out, citing a ridiculous technicality in his policy.
Essentially, the policy covered damage caused by the oil heater but they claimed that it was the storage tank that exploded and wasn't part of what was covered.
So they deny his claim, which was about 1.2 million, and then I get involved. During a deposition with the claims adjuster I ask how she came to the conclusion that the storage tank was not a part, or at least connected to, the heater. She states that she relied on her "expert witness" who was an engineer. Little did she know I had already checked this person's background. He had zero engineering experience or education.
As most of you might know, you don't get attorney's fees in most cases. However, when an insurance company denies your claim in "bad faith", now you do. Her little admission cost the company about 500k in fees, on top of the original claim for 1.2 million.
Cross examining a custom home builder who had a lump sum contract (set price as opposed to "cost plus" which means cost of the materials plus x% as builder fee) with the home owner. Claimed he put 20% more labor/materials in building the home than the contracted provided for and he was suing for these excess costs.
Was asking him about an email with my client negotiating the price of the construction and he volunteers that he knew he couldnt build it for that price.
My head snaps up, supervising partner's head snaps up, and opposing counsel goes pale. Dialogue was something like:
Me: you quoted 'x' price?
Me: you knew you couldn't build it for that price?
Me: you knew the home owner was relying on that quote?
Me: you knew home owner wouldn't have signed contract without that representation?
Me: and you told home owner's lender you could do it for 'x'?
Me: and bank relied on that price and wouldn't have given loan if knew it was wrong?
This is textbook fraudulent inducement and he had no idea. Builder got poured out in the arbitration award and slapped builder with sizable punitive damages on top of it.
Five minutes of testimony sunk his case because he volunteered information without being prompted.
Not a lawyer, but when I was in the military I was accused of something I didn't do. And I had to go to court over it. And during court the prosecutor started to detail this investigation and how they had staked my apartment out for months. They entered into evidence a picture of "my apartment". And when they put it up I looked shocked at my lawyer bc it wasn't a picture of my place. It was my ex wifes apartment. A place I had NEVER lived (never even spent a single night there). I lived in a house, she lived in an apartment.
And when my lawyer was asked if she objected to the picture being entered into evidence she replied "I don't mind them entering it into evidence as long as they change the listing of it". And when one of the members of the panel (no judge, 3 member board) asked what was wrong with the listing, she looked at him and said "That's not his apartment". On top of this the witness they used against me described going to my house on the night in question and she named the subdivision where she had visited me, except that wasn't where I lived either (also wasn't where the picture they had was either).
Case was dismissed and I was told they requested the witness to return to answer questions about perjury.
Had a client accused of leading the cops on a high speed chase. The cop on the stand estimated he was going 90 mph, but never actually clocked him. Then the cop identified where the chase started with me, and where it ended. It lasted about 2 miles. Then we went through his log of when it started and when it ended. About three and a half minutes. Once you walk through the math on that, the average speed of this chase was 35 mph. Client got acquitted really quickly after that.
I was suing a landlord who failed to make serious repairs in order to force the tenant out. The hard part is proving bad intent instead of mere idiocy so you get higher damages. Code Enforcement was involved, so I request those records. The landlord left a voicemail to the enforcement department saying to hold off on the fines, they will make the repairs as soon as the tenant is forced out. That was an easy case.
Represented a DUI client who swore up and down to me he hadn't been drinking or doing any drugs. Newbie officer who had his field training officer with him in the car. Rookie pulls client over for a tag violation, walks back to the car with body camera still on, training officer says "get him out for a DUI" and the rookie says "but he's not intoxicated" to which the reply was "do it anyway." Body cam clicks off, turns on 7 minutes later and they're doing field sobriety exercises on my client. Client sat in custody for 3 weeks until I finally got the tape from the prosecutor and presented it to the judge.
The "oh sh*t" looks from the prosecutor and FTO when the judge saw the tape.....I'll treasure that one. Judge wrote the police chief a letter saying the FTO was dead to him and he'd deny every search warrant he tried to bring thereafter for being a liar.
Client is hopefully still on track with his civil attorney in a lawsuit.
While doing SSA disability hearings a few years ago I represented a guy in a case that was back on remand from Federal Court.
Long story short, the original Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) didn't follow the correct procedure and denied the guy because he "could return to his last work (Step 4).
Basically, he was granted a partially favorable decision that gave him $700 a month, rather than the $2,100 he should have received.
The ALJs are notoriously aholes, and try to scare people out of pursuing claims. This judge apparently thought he could intimidate me and my client into withdrawing the appeal by threatening to take away all the guys benefits. Little did he know, I'm not a moron, and I hate bullies.
He started the hearing by asking my client if he was aware that he could take all his benefits away. Asking if "your counsel has informed you that by continuing this hearing, you may lose all benefits and owe all amounts back to the agency as an overpayment."
This was completely impossible, because 6 years had gone by since the original decision, and the judge could only reopen the decision within 2 years. The guy was bullet proof on this issue.
Also, the job he previously did (computer system installer) was completely obsolete and physically impossible since his physical problems prevented him from lifting more than 20lbs, and the computer he was installing during the 1980s were 50-150lbs. The judge didn't think about that, and clearly didn't read the federal court remand notice.
So, long story short, the judge says to me, "Counsel, have you done your ethical duty and advised your client that he could lose all his benefits today?"
To which I responded by looking at my client, and in a full voice saying, "He can't do that." Then, without missing a beat looked back at the judge and said, "Your honor, I have advised my client that you cannot take his benefits away."
I told the judge we would waive all other procedural portions of the hearings and proceed directly to vocational expert testimony.
I asked the vocational expert two questions, "would the prior job require lifting more than 20lbs?" And "has the prior job existed as performed since 1999?"
She quickly answered "No." to both questions and then on her own elaborated all the reasons why.
Total hearing was 6 minutes long. The judge had no choice but the grant the original application, and the guy got $158,000 in unpaid benefits. And $1,400 a month more than he had been receiving.
He broke down into tears and said he could finally keep the promise to his wife to return her ashes to the beach they got married on in Hawaii. A dream he had years ago decided would be impossible.
Best day of my career, so far.