Monday, January 17, 2011

When All Else Fails: Chant Chicken Sh*it and Sue 'Em

I practice law with my father.  There's something to be said for having 43 years of legal experience sitting right down the hall from me.  I have learned and will learn all sorts of things, but--on Day One--Dad gave me the two most priceless pearls of wisdom:

1.  You don't make the facts.  The facts make themselves and you can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

2.  When all else fails, sue everybody and let God sort it out.

The first rule applies indiscriminately to the areas of both criminal law and civil law.  When one starts out as a young attorney, one feels the heavy burden of the client's dependency and the desperate need to make everything right.  A baby lawyer takes it personally if they don't win and can't really see from the depths of despair in which they throw themselves that the client--perhaps--isn't as pristine as they made themselves out to be.  Go figure. 

Of course the aforementioned problem isn't helped at all by the client's rabid readiness and willingness to blame their attorney for their downfall:

1,  The client suffering from a "crippling" back condition as the result of a wreck is filmed by an insurance company PI while he heartily tosses cinderblocks around in his front yard.  So what?  He had a right to privacy in his own front yard!

2.  Yes, the Defendant "updated" her boyfriend's car with a can of hot pink spray paint and a crowbar, but he was like totally cheating on her with a like total skank!

3.  Bill was just driving along and minding his own business when a hooker suddenly jumped into his car while he was stopped at a corner known far and wide as the Wal-Mart of the sex trade.  What was he supposed to do?

4.  Yes, the Plaintiff did jump into the back seat of the car until after the wreck, but he needed someplace to sit and recover from the emotional distress caused from witnessing the horrific incident.

Jeez, Ms. Council, what's your PROBLEM???  I'm sure I'm probably just being picky.

After I grew out of the infancy of my legal career, it was much easier to embrace the Chicken Salad/Chicken Shit Philosophy.  A lawyer can burn out real fast if they continue to accept all responsibility for the unhappy outcome of every case.  Yes, 75 year-old Edith may have been distracted when she put the bottle of wine into her purse and attempted to leave the grocery store, but I'm not sure that the judge will buy that argument while staring at the record of her 36 prior shoplifting convictions.  I'll do my best, but that's all I can do.

These days, I'm perfectly comfortable not accepting custody of chicken shit blame.  In fact, more often that not, I find myself biting my tongue while a client rails at me about the crappy job they think I'm doing.  I mean, the fact that a Defendant refused to take a Breathalyzer test doesn't pose quite the evidentiary coup he would expect in his DWI case--especially when he told the cop that he'd consumed two bottls of Jack Daniels with a tequila chaser.  Inner peace.  All that Yoga shit.  Ohmmmmmmmmmm...

The "Sue Everybody and Let God Sort it Out Rule" has been equally as helpful as the Chicken Shit Chant.  God forbid that my radical liberal ravings offend all and sundry, but big corporations are as slick as pig shit these days.  (I suddenly realize that we are focusing on manure a lot here, but it can't be helped.)

The lengths that the Bigass Marts of the world go to in order to avoid liability would be really impressive if they weren't so damned infuriating. 

For example:  The elderly Miss Perkins was shopping at Evil Empires 'R Us when she was run over by an employee taking a joy ride on a forklift.  So sue EERU and do your job, right?

Wrong.  As it happens, the real estate lot upon which the EERU sits was purchased by EERU Reality Holdings, LLC.  The store itself was constructed by EERU Buildcorp, Inc. and leased by EERU, LLP, but is operated by EERU Operations Corp. which employs EERU Independent Contracting Services, Inc. for staffing purposes.  As for the forklift, it was just left there and nobody owns it (uh-huh). 

Personally, it is my belief that the Bigass Marts and the Evil Empires 'R Us of the world have think tanks that do nothing but dream up these spider webs.  Eeeeeeevil think tanks.  Run by Dr. Evil.  They might even have sharks with frigging laser beams attached to their heads.  Anyway, these conglomerates count on the fact that an attorney will miss at least one crucial LLP or not find the extra Inc. thereby throwing Miss Perkins' entire lawsuit into jeopardy.  Good times!

The real trick is that there is no way to determine the extent of the corporate maze without conducting discovery and you can't conduct discovery until you've filed suit.  Accordingly, the only thing to do is...wait for it...SUE EVERYBODY AND LET GOD SORT IT OUT!  Sue the owner of the shovel that broke ground on Day 1 construction all the way up through and including the present day.  If EERU Mosquito Control Services,  Ltd. or EERU Do Nothing But Pay the Power Bill, LLC doesn't belong in your suit, then let them spend their money to prove it to the judge.

I think that the adherence to the Two Basic Rules has kept me from going even more insane than I already am.  Who knows?  They could potentially apply to everyday life.  Chant them and give them a try.  Of course, I do need to warn you that I'm not particularly fond of chicken salad anymore...

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