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Otters Oddities

Some lawyer jokes aren't actually jokes.

Let me start off by saying, there's too many lawyers in this world. And each and every one of them wants to use the courts to bend the law to fit the way they feel at the particular time they are in court.


Don't get me wrong. The world needs lawyers. Just not so many of them. And I'm related to several lawyers. Many of whom regret the years spent in law school.

As an unfortunate side effect of the glut of lawyers we have, we also have a lot of lawyers who really shouldn't be lawyers. In fact, today, I'm going to tell you about a prime example of one. This is not a tale of an exceptionally corrupt lawyer. Nor is it the tale of notorious ambulance chaser.

No, it's the tale of a lawyer that's not that smart. Well, maybe greedy is a better word for it. I'll let you be the judge.

Now, this get's tricky, so I'll make it a simple or you to follow as I can. Ready? Here we go.


A resident of a town in Illinois retained an attorney, Lionel Hutz, to represent her inthe purchase of a house. She chose a title company, ABC Title,(not the firms real name), when she originally purchased the home, and when she refinanced it, to take care of the paper work and close the loans. This title company that was owned by...Lionel Hutz. (not his real name. He's a lawyer, I don't want to get sued.)

As her attorney, he was looking over the documents and found something that concerned him. The original mortgage holder, XYZ Mortgages, (again, not the real name), had something called a 'Fax Filing Fee' of $60 listed on the paper work. Mr. Hutz informed his client that that particular fee might have broken some laws, and that if she would sign a retainer document, he could begin proceedings for a class action law suit. Hutz was sure this wasn't the only person who was charged that fee. The dollar signs were popping up in his mind.


The retainer agreement listed three other law firms as attorneys of record for the class action. And in 2003, one of the firms officially filed the suit against XYZ Mortgages in court. The defendants retained their own lawyers, and the battle was joined!

Durring depositions, XYZ's lawyers questioned the original plaintiff. 'Yes' she objected to the fee. 'No' she didn't recall seeing the statement that explained the fee during closing. 'No' she wasn't aware of what the fee was for, exactly, when she signed the papers, only that she was being charged fees. 'No' she wasn't aware that ABC Title was the entity that collected the fee on behalf of XYZ.


Now, be sure you're paying attention, Hutz had his client, the plaintiff, sign a retainer listing himself and three other firms as attorneys for this class suit. However ,when the firm that filed the case made the filing, they left Hutz's name off the suit to avoid any impression of conflict of interest. (remember, Hutz also owns ABC Title).

After questioning the plaintiff, XYZ's lawyers called Hutz to the stand. The plaintiffs attorneys called objection and cited attorney-client privilege. XYZ countered that Hutz was only listed on the retainer document, and not on the court filings, therefore, privilege did not exist. the judge agreed.


Under questioning, Hutz admitted he owned ABC Title, and was kept off the class suit because of that, but he was in fact, the plaintiffs attorney. (and this is where it gets interesting). under questioning, Hutz was asked why the objection to the fee wasn't brought up during closing. Hutz replied that the fee wasn't listed on the paperwork supplied by XYZ, but was collected by ABC on behalf of XYZ.

XYZ stated there was no 'Fax Filing Fee' charged by them, and the fee was, in fact, charged by ABC. Hutz responded, again, that the fee was charged on behalf of XYZ. The lawyer for XYZ stated that the fee was never reported to XYZ, and was never paid to them either. Therefore, XYZ was not responsible for the charge, ABC was, and therefore, ABC was in violation, not XYZ.


At this point the lawyers for XYZ made a motion to dismiss the charges against them. Upon consideration, the judge denied the motion, but decided that the evidence indicated that ABC Titles, and Lionel Hutz, should be included as a defendants in the class action, and the jury could decide who was responsible for the illegal fee, XYZ or ABC.

Hutz was forced to issue a release from retainer, giving up any and all claims to fees won from the case, and stepped down as the plaintiffs attorney.


The case never went to trial.

XYZ Mortgages asked for, and received a summary judgement. ABC Titles and Lionel Hutz were found to be liable for the illegal fees, and today, the three law firms are still trying to collect their money on behalf of the plaintiffs.


To sum up, in case I lost you somewhere, Lionel Hutz advised his client to sue a company for something his company did, and to make him her lawyer.

Lionel Hutz sued himself. And lost. Big time.

You might be asking yourself why I decided to change the names of those involved. All the details are a matter of public record. (I got the details from a law journal and the local newspaper). Well, this involves a lawyer that's not too smart. And while I would surely win any libel case brought against me by said moron, I don't want to have to go through the hassle. So, I changed names. A little bit of diligent Googling, ('lawyer who sued himself', first hit), might find who I'm talking about.


This just goes to prove, an education doesn't always make you smart. Or greed makes you stupid. Or lawyers are morons. Whatever. You decide.

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