In Case of Bad Day, Read This Column

By John G. Browning


At a recent CLE conference, a lawyer came up and thanked me for my lighthearted articles. “Sometimes,” he said, “I’ll be having a bad day and then I go read one of your columns and it invariably puts a smile on my face.” The comment not only made my day—it also revealed a truth about the practice of law. We deal in serious issues, and we naturally take such matters and our duties to clients very seriously as well. But when it comes to ourselves, we can stand to lighten things up a bit.

Take David Howard and Jingjing Liang, who fell in love during their first year at the University of Texas School of Law. But when they sent out invitations for their June 2018 wedding, Howard (a first-year associate of Baker Botts) and Liang (a first-year associate of Shearman & Sterling), decided to craft them in the style of “merger agreements” rather than conventional wedding invitations. For example, “the Bride desires to take the Groom as her lawful husband, to have and to hold commencing on the Wedding Date.” There’s even a representation and warranty for the guests “to not consume alcohol to a degree that their good humor, common sense or balance is impeded to turn a classy event into a college fraternity party.” Congratulations, David and Jingjing!

And from the “you knew this was going to happen” department, the West Virginia law firm of Bailey & Glasser wants the clients they represent in a class-action lawsuit against Dish Network to know about the $61 million verdict they won. The lawsuit involved unwanted telemarketing phone calls, and more than 18,000 class members who received such calls were eligible to receive anywhere from $2,400 to $30,000 each. There was just one problem: When the lawyers and their paralegals would call the clients to deliver the good news, the clients were invariably hanging up. Because fewer than 8 percent of the clients who received written notification returned the forms required for the awards, the follow-up calls were necessary. You would think lawyers representing folks over unwanted calls might have seen this coming.

From the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat, at least defeat can buy you an extension of time—if you’re Brian King, that is. The Salt Lake City, Utah, lawyer took a break from drafting an opposition to a defense motion for summary judgment to watch his beloved Utah Jazz play the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of their series in the NBA playoffs on April 25. With his brief not due until midnight and with the Jazz enjoying a 25-point lead in the third quarter, King was in good spirits. But, “disaster then struck”: the Jazz collapsed and lost the game, and King was affected, filing his brief 18 minutes late. He sought an extension based on “the emotional effect” of the Jazz loss and the “pallor cast on counsel’s mind.” Fortunately, U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins granted the extension. I guess he’s a Jazz fan too.

And finally, President Donald J. Trump gets blamed by critics for many things—but for a car accident? Kellie Roadman, of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, has filed a lawsuit over a car wreck that occurred just before the presidential election. Roadman alleges that on October 25, 2016, her vehicle was struck by another car that had slowed down to view the “Trump House”—a home painted to resemble an American flag with a rather tall cutout of Trump. According to the suit (which doesn’t name the opposing driver), the owner of the house, Leslie Rossi, was negligent for not marking the property and for creating a distraction (the “Trump House” gained national media attention, drawing as many as 14,000 visitors a month before the election). What can you say about a car wreck case that may feature a 12- foot-tall Donald Trump cutout as an exhibit? Maybe it will make American trials great again.TBJ


is a partner in Passman &?Jones in Dallas, where he handles commercial litigation, employment, health care, and personal injury defense matters in state and federal courts. He is an award-winning legal journalist for his syndicated column, “Legally Speaking,” and is the author of the Social Media and Litigation Practice Guide and a forthcoming casebook on social media and the law. He is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

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