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Legal Humour Blog

 

June 2014

A Tale of Two Experts

Jun 22, 2014 12:40 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    The law on experts is going haywire.  There is massive confusion presently in Ontario as to who is or is not an “expert”.I have an idea to simplify expert assessments and dramatically lower the costs of getting their reports.

    As we all know what experts retained by each side generally say about the same person, why not allow the lawyers to write the reports for both sides.

    Take a psychiatric case.  I can do it easily. I would collect the best talents of each of these usual suspect shrinks and I would conscientiously prepare both reports under a different nom de plume. And my fee for both would be a lot less than what each currently charges for one report.

    In a case therefore of a forty year old European woman who was a restaurant worker,  but who has not been able to resume work at since her car accident, the psychiatric reports might read as follows:

THE PLAINTIFF'S MEDICAL

    I am an Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, with special interest in chronic pain.

VISIT

    Your client arrived 15 minutes early. This to me suggests someone who is very responsible. She was dressed casually, wearing blue jeans, obviously not being pretentious.

THE CATASTROPHIC ACCIDENT

    She was a vivid historian. She described that she was stopped when suddenly she was struck forcefully from the rear by a cement truck. She related, "I thinking I hit by atomic bomb. I dead for sure."

HISTORY

    She advises that she was born and raised in rural Hungary. Her mother was Hungarian and her father, a shepherd from Greece, who came to seek his fortune in Hungary. He also dabbled in bicycle repairs. She was the youngest of eight children. Her mother was a heavy smoker.
    "She smoke cigarettes. And she weigh 300 pounds. For sure."

    Her dad was an altruistic gentleman spending all his spare time asking people if he could fix their bicycle flats.

    She is presently married to Victor, the owner of Victor's Delicious Deli,  in Brampton. Until the accident she assisted her husband in running the deli.

    When she married Victor, she was a virgin.

EXAMINATION

    She had good eye contact.  She is constantly in pain. She has had to stop working at the deli as, "I no longer able to lift anything. Even a pastrami sandwich with a pickle...no way... I feel useless."

    When asked to count backwards by sevens from 100 she got stuck at 90. I handed her a Kleenex as her eyes started to moisten.

IMPRESSIONS

    There is no doubt that this lady suffers from depression and severe chronic pain syndrome. Like her father she was a workaholic who demanded 100% or rather 107% from herself. Now she now is totally disabled from working. Her condition is entirely attributable to the motor vehicle accident.

    The prognosis is guarded.

    Sincerely,

    C. Jackson Smithfield        


THE DEFENSE MEDICAL

    I am an Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, with special interest in malingering.

    I read the medical brief that you sent along, including the report of Dr. Smithfield.
I shall say no more about his report. I'll confine mine to non fiction.

VISIT

    The subject woman arrived fifteen minutes early. This demonstrates pre-existing chronic anxiety. She just can't wait to get her hands on that insurance money.

    She was dressed sloppily in blue jeans trying to impress me of her humility.

THE INCIDENT (?)

    She says that she was fully stopped when she was allegedly tapped by another vehicle. I can't imagine someone this anxious actually stopping for anything.

    She exaggerated,  magnifying the size of the offending vehicle indicating that it was a cement truck. When I asked her once again what type of car it was, she again insisted it was a cement truck. She was non repentant.

    She then said in describing the light jolt, "I dead for sure." She said this with the air of certainty that only a malingerer uses.

HISTORY

    It’s obvious she learned her greed from her parents. Her father gave up the tranquil life of being a shepherd in Greece in order to carry on cross border contraband of stolen bicycle parts. It was the least he could do to keep his fat wife in her lavish smoking habit.

    The subject was the youngest of eight children, a spoiled brat. She also insisted on three occasions when asked that when she married her husband, she was a virgin.

EXAMINATION

    Her eye contact was non-existent as she kept on burying her face in Kleenex. She was very hostile and anxious when I grabbed away the box of Kleenex and hid it in my microwave oven.

    She indicated she could do nothing at all at her husband's deli. "I completely useless."

    Not surprisingly on further questioning however she was readily able to count pastrami sandwiches by sevens.

IMPRESSIONS

    This lady is your classical malingerer. She falls squarely within the parameters of the F.T. Test (Fakers' Test). I speak of course of the seminal test developed by noted psychiatrist, Dr. August Strondenberg of the University of Gotenberg. There is a perfect match with all of the Professor's indicia, which lead to the inescapable conclusion of malingering:

    1) Her father was a disenchanted shepherd;

    2) Her mother was obese;

    3) She spent years working in a delicatessen;

    4) Her favourite number is 7; and

    5) She is adamant about a husband called Victor,  marrying her as a virgin.

    I have no doubt that once this law suit ends, the subject will achieve a complete recovery of these alleged symptoms.

    Sincerely,

    Mortimer (Syd) Golden"

    And of course, these reports would be flawless as I would sign two of those mandatory form 53s, certifying that I am not a hired gun.

I practice civil litigation, with emphasis on personal injury and family law.  Please visit  www.striglaw.com . I am not a psychiatrist but I can write a medical legal report as well as any shrink out there.

 

 

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The Library, the Courthouse and the Taco Place

Jun 15, 2014 12:41 PM
Marcel Strigberger

     Police made a big arrest recently in Toronto. They attended at a public library in Agincourt and arrested and charged a Fredrick Tennyson Davis with committing an indecent act.  It seems the 49 year old man sidled up next to a lady with his computer and a cucumber, and allegedly performed an indecent gesture.  The media do not report what that gesture was.

    This should be a lesson to him.  After all the public comes to the library to read Tennyson, not see him playing around with his cucumber.

    I wonder what that 911 call sounded like:

    “Hello, hello, this is Ms. Jenna Findlay, head librarian at the Agincourt Library.  There is a man sitting near the stacks, waiving around this large cucumber. Ohhh, it’s gross.”

    “Keep calm, Ms Findlay.  Are you sure it’s a cucumber, not a zucchini?”

    “I think it’s a cucumber. I’m not sure. It’s long and green.  He just whipped it out of a Loblaws bag.”

    “The police are on their way Madam. By the way, I have a couple of books way overdue. When is your next amnesty week?”

    Things get more bizarre.  In Breward County, Florida Judge John Murphy lost it. He got into an argument with public Defender Andrew Weinstock when Weinstock refused to waive his client’s right to a speedy trial. His Honour told Weinstock not to “piss him off” and challenged him to step outside. When our colleague did so, the man from the bench grabbed him by the collar. Deputies had to break up the scrap.  

    I would hate to be an accused represented by Andrew Weinstock, copping a plea before Murphy J.

    “Yes Mr. Weinstock, please make your submissions as to sentence. Don’t mind this noose in my hands.”

    They call Florida the “Sunshine State”.  Here we have yet another example of the effects of too much exposure to the sun.    

    And here is a case of justice done. A Buffalo New York based Mexican food chain called, “Mighty Taco”, has announced that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is hereby banned from ordering tacos at all of its 23 Western New York outlets.  The owner calls Putin a bully for his recent actions in the Ukraine and says the ban will be lifted once Putin stops his bullying conduct.

    Great news. Upon hearing of Might Taco’s announcement, Vladimir Putin announced that he is immediately withdrawing his 40,000 Russian troops from the Ukraine and he is giving back the Crimea.  Said Vlad, “ What do you want. It’s hard to come by a good taco in Moscow.”

    Who says sanctions don’t work!

     Please visit my practice site, www.striglaw.com where I describe my efforts to avoid trouble and diffuse problems.

 

 

   

 

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Mutiny on the Sidney McNish

Jun 8, 2014 6:33 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    Tully Goldfarb had decided to get away. He had been practicing law for several years and now he was about to start an indefinite sabbatical. Today he was going to fulfil his childhood fantasy and start a new job as a deckhand aboard the Sidney McNish, a sturdy ferry boat doing a shuttle from the Metro docks to Centre Island, several hundred yards out in the lake. (He didn't care to get away too far).

    Lake Ontario was majestic; it beckoned Tully.  He could not smell the salt in the air. That didn't matter.  
    
    Tully would have signed up with the navy or the merchant marine but he never like committing himself for trips longer than 15 minutes.  Anyways, he had never been out to Centre Island, which boasts a famous amusement park and zoo.
    
    July 17, aye, a lovely day for a lovely ride on a lovely boat where a lovely mutiny was to take place, unbeknownst to Tully or for that matter to that miserable grouch of a captain, Nathaniel Fligh.  We could talk about Captain Fligh at length but we're going to talk about the Sidney McNish instead.

    Built in 1934, it had seen active service during World War II, 1939-1945, when it was used in Quebec City as a floating restaurant and destroyer.  It achieved a reputation as the latter as a result of the work of Hank Moldaver, a cook.  We won't talk about Hank Moldaver either.  Suffice it to say that German U-boats, which routinely made it up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, used to dock nearby and send a crew to the Sidney McNish for some supper and spying.  After a hearty meal aboard the Sidney McNish, the men would often return to their submarines with the worst case of runs imaginable.  It was so bad that the Fatherland would promptly send them for recovery and recuperation to Mexico.

    Department of National Defence officials however, deny to this day that any German U-boats ever made it to Quebec City.
    
    Getting back to Tully, it's 2013, and the crowds have boarded the good ship Sidney McNish on that faithful Sunday morning.  Tully, a fourth class porthole mechanic, signaled to the dockhands that the boat was full and they rapidly lifted the gangplank, leaving an 80-year old lady swinging in mid-air, vociferously threatening to sue.  Tully in the course of his practice had several times come across octogenarian-ladies-caught-in gangplank cases.  In response to the lady's protests, the dockhand Fred Percy,left her swinging there another two minutes. Percy incidentally was a former bus driver with the Toronto Transit Commission. He indicated that he would have lowered the gangplank sooner but he didn't like her attitude.  

    The ship's whistle blew and off she steamed towards the Island.  
    
    The crew, "Seething with rebellion" as the papers would later put it, had nothing against Captain Fligh personally; they just thought that the boat could use a good mutiny. Oh sure, the captain was as mean as captains of ships about to have mutinies are. He would often boast about how he would have every man flogged, but for the fact that their trip was much too short and he needed at least 20 minutes one way for a good flogging. He would say how sorry he was that there were no sharks in the lake to which he could occasionally throw his crew. And indeed he did once throw a ship hand overboard to the perch.

    The boat was half way across. The mutiny had been fermenting for about five minutes.  The first mate, Fletcher, had spent about two hours a day with would be mutineers the past week rehearsing the mutiny. The had asked Captain Fligh if they could use the Sidney McNish at night for "personal reasons".  The captain had denied the request, thereby increasing the men's resolve to mutiny.  After all, they had to spend all their evenings the previous week rehearsing in the basement of Fletcher's suburban bungalow. It just wasn't the same and they were forced to improvise.

    They also had to explain to the neighbours what two row boats with six manikins aboard were doing on their front lawn.  At least they didn't have to worry about the weather.  And the crew did appreciate the lemonade and cookies prepared by Fletcher's wife Myrna (no relations to Hank Moldaver). Rumour has it,however,that she actually purchased the cookies at Silverberg's bakery.  
        
    Getting back to the fermenting mutiny, Tully was busy writing his memoirs about the lake. "The lake", he wrote, when suddenly three shots rang out and Fletcher shouted, "OK Fligh. This is a mutiny."  
    
    To this day no one knows where the shots came from. The captain, somewhat astonished, shouted back, "You'll hang for this Fletcher."

    Fletcher apparently wasn't moved by the Captain's eloquence.  "Who sails with me," he announced over a blowhorn, "Step over this line."
        
    The five hundred and fifty or so passengers weren't going to be heroes. They all charged across the deck over to Fletcher's side, together with most of the crew, causing the good ship to list terribly.  
    
    Tully immediately put his memoir writing into abeyance and asked Fletcher and Fligh if they couldn't work things out. Drawing on his experience as a family law and civil litigation practitioner, he offered to mediate.  Both Fletcher and Fligh told Tully where to go and Fligh repeated his "You'll hang for this" threat. The captain was kidding, Tully believed.  But, being a lawyer, he wasn't about to take chances and so elected to stay with Fligh. Anyways, management was paying his salary and he was thinking of his outstanding bank loan.

    "You can't pay too many bills on a mutineer"s pay," he mumbled to himself.  

    Meanwhile, Mrs. Fletcher was busy handing out lemonade and cookies to the mutineers and the passengers.  She was mad as hell because she was assured at the rehearsals that there would only be about twenty to thirty and not over five hundred participants in the mutiny.

    Fletcher took Tully, Fligh and Rene St. Marie, put them into one of the ship's lifeboats and cast them adrift. St. Marie was a summer exchange student from Montreal who came to Toronto to get some maritime experience and to learn how to speak English. His counterpart, Crawford MacKenzie, was spending the summer in Montreal working on the Champlain Bridge. They didn't tell him in advance that there were no ferry boats, only lots and lots of bridges in Montreal. On the plus side, MacKenzie was still learning French.  And the risk of mutiny was somewhat less than for Rene St. Marie.  There are only so many places you can commandeer a bridge to.

    St. Marie was still busy flipping through his Larousse English/French Dictionary as they lowered him into the lifeboat.

    The Sidney McNish sailed off, leaving the trio in the lifeboat with nothing but a keg of fresh water, three tins of sardines and a compass, all in accordance with the Zurich Convention on Mutinies. Tully hated fish.

    Fligh studied the compass carefully, trying to pinpoint their exact location. St. Marie quickly gobbled up the cookie Mrs. Fletcher had inadvertently given him.  He'd read about shipwrecks and mutinies before and there was no way anyone was going to talk him into rationing.  

    The sun was scorching. The men were starting to get concerned.  Suddenly Tully looked around and shouted, “Land ho!”

    Centre Island was clearly visible about 150 meters starboard.

    At the command of the Captain, Tully and St. Marie started rowing towards the island.  They soon noticed four long boats heading out from shore each carrying about five island natives rowing to meet the lifeboat.

    "The women aboard the boats are not topless", Tully noted in his memoirs disappointedly.

    When they got to the island, the Captain explained their predicament to the natives who in turn pulled out all the stops in providing hospitality to the trio. They were taken directly to the amusement park where the natives treated them to free rides aboard the swan boats.  Tully refused to ride on the swan boat, insisting that he must know a bit more about the background of any of the other characters before embarking on any water craft again.

    The natives prepared a banquet, feeding the men local delicacies including caramel popcorn and candy floss.  Tully noted in his memoirs, “I don't know how these people can gorge themselves on this pink stuff. I ate some only to be polite to the natives”.

    About one half hour later, a second ferry boat arrived at the docks. She was the good ship Lady Henrietta More, sister ship to the Sidney McNish.  Lady Henrietta's captain asked Fligh what had happened to the Sidney McNish.  Fligh vividly recounted the horrors that had befallen Lady Henrietta Mores brother, concluding with the words, "They'll all hang for this".  

    The three castaways thanked the natives for their cordial reception and went aboard.  

    Captain Fligh returned to Toronto uncertain as to his future on the giant ferries.  He decided to bide his time until the day he would meet Fletcher again.

    As for Tully, he had had quite a day.  He now realized that he didn't care for the excitement of life out on the Great Lakes. He decided to abandon his sabbatical and perhaps teach a course or two. His memoirs of life out at lake would be rather short,but what could he do?  Perhaps he would write a labour law book.  

    Tully and Fligh waved to the natives as the Lady Henrietta More steamed away, leaving Centre Island in the distance, but never quite out of sight.

    Meanwhile, Rene St. Marie was busy thumbing through his Larousse with his steady fingers trying to find the French word for candy floss.

 

     Well, at least unlike what we often see these days on cruise ships, nobody came down with norwlak virus.  Please visit my legal practice website, www.striglaw.com. No I do not do maritime law.

Marcel's Musings, Judicial Nonsense   Add Comment
  

New Dimensions

Jun 8, 2014 11:39 AM
Marcel Strigberger

    In Cardiff, Wales, a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) employee got dismissed for putting pubic hair into a customer's order.  Somehow I do not see a wrongful dismissal action on the horizon.  His chances of success in suing his employer are definitely not finger lickin good.

    I would say this event  adds a new dimension to the meaning of "This product is made out of the Colonel's secret recipe".

    In South Portland, Maine, a gentleman visited an bank ATM and tried to withdraw $140.00. The machine accidentally spat out $137,000.00. A lady was standing nearby wanting to use the machine. She thought something was suspicious when she saw the guy stuffing the bills wherever he could. After a while her patience grew thin and she called the police.  No charges were laid.

    I would say this event adds a new dimension to the Scotiabank slogan, "You're richer than you think."

        And in Calgary, a woman was banned from a Calgary Co-op for shoplifting. She returned however and slipped pins, nails and needles into a number of bakery and dairy products.  Word of her involvement in creating these new and improved products got out.  Now she is suing the store for 8 million dollars for defamation and mental distress.  What did she expect?  A Julia Child award?  

    I would say this event adds a new dimension to the concept of chutzpah. At least the KFC guy with the pubic hair....I better not go there.

    I am a lawyer and a humourist. I am often told this combo adds a new dimension to the term, "oxymoron" . Otherwise, I practice personal injury/insurance law and family law.  Please visit www.striglaw.com .

    

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May 2014


Hello Neighbour

May 25, 2014 9:09 PM
Marcel Strigberger

     This week we were treated to a summary judgement motion involving a psychiatrist and an oil company executive   ( Morland-Jones v. Taerk. ), both neighbours in Toronto’s ritzy Forest Hill area The complaints each had against one another included the shrink’s wife depositing dog faeces into the oil exec’s garbage bin, the oil exec video recording the shrink’s house 24/7, and the parties shouting profanities at one another.  Fortunately Morgan J dismissed the motion noting that what the parties here needed was not a judge, but a “stern kindergarten teacher”.

     I wonder what the parties could have done to prevent this senseless war:

       1. The shrink could have refrained from depositing the pooche’s best into the oil exec's waste bin? Then again perhaps he thought doing so was therapeutic, and an act of kindness.

       2. Upon discovery of the event, the oil exec could have asked the shrink, "Hey doctor, I know everything has a reason.  Please advise why you did this. I do not recall ordering a subscription of Fido's faeces.  By the way, we're having a barbecue on Sunday; we'd love to have you and your wife over.

       3. The lawyers, two on each side, could have seen immediately that there can be no winners in a neighbour fight and they could have insisted on a mandatory meeting, with or without a mediator, and bring the neighbors to their senses.  We have a good precedent here; a lasting peace since 1814 between Canada and the U.S.  Unfortunately, four lawyers attended the motion, at a cost of tens of thousands.  I'd say to some extent, we had a case of lawyer malfunction. Fortunately the judge held that there was no serious legal issue to be tried here, and he did not award either party any legal costs.  Justice was done.  Judicial bona-function.

       I practice civil litigation, emphasizing personal injury and family law. Please visit my website, www.striglaw.com.  I am at peace with all my neighbours.

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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

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