March 5, 2010

The Annals of Law: The Caper of the Counselor's Coat

William Ogletree practices personal injury law in Texas. On the most recent New Year's Eve he planned to fly from Houston to Las Vegas, presumably to celebrate the new year with libation, games of chance, and, who knows, a little extra fun in the city that tells no tales. Prior to his flight, he had dinner in the airport food court. He ate a slice of pizza, if you must know, and the service was lousy. But the real bummer involved the loss of a black leather coat, Polo brand, extra large, with a plaid lining. Ogletree was very fond of the coat, but he left it behind after his dinner. We have all lost things in the course of our lives. Most of us chalk it up to inattention, punish ourselves for being forgetful and move on. But not William Ogletree, esq. Someone not named Ogletree is going to pay for the lost coat.

As we read in the Smoking Gun blog, Ogletree has notified the operator of the food court, Continental Airlines and the city of Houston that he is holding them responsible for what happened to his coveted coat. Sure, he forgot it, but as soon as he exited the food court, the three parties assumed liability for the coat. They are jointly and severally on the hook for taking control of his lost property and securing it until he was able to claim it. He is kind of pessimistic that any of the parties will be able to locate the coat: "I am looking forward to discovering how all of you deal with lost property in the airport.I suspect that your record is dismal and that employee theft runs rampant." [An image comes to mind: an underpaid waitress leaving work in an elegant coat that is three sizes too large.]

The Clock is Ticking
Ogletree has given the three parties 10 days to come up with the coat or $800 to replace it. After that, he sues. Now you might think that Ogletree has a pretty weak case and that the three parties will blow him off. Don't be so sure. If you go to his firm's website, you will find a "settlement calculator" which helps people determine just how much they are owed. Here are the elements entering into the calculation:

  • Medical Expenses $
  • Future Medical Expenses $
  • Rehabilitation $
  • Prosthetics $
  • Lost Wages $
  • Future Lost Wages $
  • Pain and Suffering $
  • Future Pain and Suffering $
  • Disability $
  • Future Disability $
  • Loss of Quality of Life $
  • Future Loss of Quality of Life $
  • Impairment $
  • Future Impairment $
  • Disfigurement $
  • Loss of Consortium $
  • Loss of Services $
I am sure that Attorney Ogletree has already plugged in his numbers and the $800 is chump change compared to the "future pain and suffering, future loss of quality of life, and future loss of consortium" directly connected to the loss of his black leather coat, Polo brand, extra large with a plaid lining. I would advise the three parties to pony up $266.66 apiece and pay the man his money. As Shakespeare meant to say, "Hell hath no fury like an attorney scorned."

Posted by Jon Coppelman



This is an officer of the court! Sworn to uphold law! If he was any scummier he would be a congressman.

Perfect example of what is wrong with this country. There is no personal responsibility any more. Everything is the the fault of someone else.

I hope the counter-sue for frivolous litigation and pursue attorney fees.

Unfortunately the cost of defense will exceed each party's contribution as demanded by the attorney. The cost to fight this action will be much more costly.

The only reason to fight this issue is to not set a precendent in claims handling procedures for similarly mispaced items for these entities.

The other issue claims will consider is the creation of an actual legal obligation (case law) if they fight and a court expands the duties of these entities in preserving lost property (a stretch but it will be part of the decisin to fight or not).

I predict a settlement.


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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on March 5, 2010 2:13 PM.

Health Wonk Review, kabuki style, and other noteworthy news briefs was the previous entry in this blog.

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