Up In Smoke
Date Added: Feb. 4, 2003
We read or hear daily of unscrupulous folks benefitting from frivolous lawsuits. It's frustrating, so when we hear a tale of one such scammer getting his come-uppance, we revel in it. Too bad it's not true.
This is the best lawyer story of the year, decade, and probably the century.
A Charlotte, NC, lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company.
In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.
The lawyer sued....and won! In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The Judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire," and was obligated to pay the claim.
Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires."
NOW FOR THE BEST PART... After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.
This is a true story and was the 1st place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.
ONLY IN AMERICA
The events described above did not occur in Charlotte, N.C., or anywhere else. This is the latest (and most verbose) retelling of an old urban legend that has roots in humor.
In some variations, the cigar-buyer is just an average scammer, in others, he's an accountant. In every version, however, his clever scheme always backfires and he ends up losing more than he wins.
This tale and others like it give us hope that, in this overly litigious society plagued by frivolous lawsuits and scams, justice does prevail and clever crimes have equally clever consequences. In short, we want it to be true.
Country music star, Brad Paisley, obviously picked up on that desire and immortalized this legend in a track on his 2003 album "Mud on the Tires," entitled "The Cigar Song."
I've seen the cigar story posted on a variety of message boards and people are generally quite excited by the its theme. Interestingly, even when it's pointed out as a hoax, most people insist they don't care about the message's truth or falsehood. They claim they will pass it on anyway for its entertainment value.
There is no such thing as the "Criminal Lawyers Award Contest" mentioned in the version of the text above. Plug that phrase into google and you'll get many different Web sites, all leading to a form to fill out for legal advice from an organization identified as the Legal Assistance Network. Unfortunately, no information is available about that organization without filling out the form. This sends up a warning flag that this may be a front for a scam to obtain contact information, cashing in on the popularity of this legend. Break this chain.