Saturday smile!

If you are a lawyer, please turn away!

Richard M., a close friend for more than forty years, recently sent me a hilarious story. Richard prefaced the story with a quotation from the late Bernard Levin.

Some of the readers of Learning from Dogs may not be familiar with Mr. Levin. I can do no better than to quote the WikiPedia entry:

Henry Bernard Levin CBE (19 August 1928 – 7 August 2004) was an English journalist, author and broadcaster, described by The Times as “the most

Bernard Levin c. 1980
Bernard Levin c. 1980

famous journalist of his day”. The son of a poor Jewish family in London, he won a scholarship to the independent school Christ’s Hospital and went on to the London School of Economics, graduating in 1952. After a short spell in a lowly job at the BBC selecting press cuttings for use in programmes, he secured a post as a junior member of the editorial staff of a weekly periodical, Truth, in 1953.

Levin reviewed television for The Manchester Guardian and wrote a weekly political column in The Spectator noted for its irreverence and influence on modern parliamentary sketches. During the 1960s he wrote five columns a week for The Daily Mail on any subject that he chose. After a disagreement with the proprietor of the paper over attempted censorship of his column in 1970, Levin moved to The Times where, with one break of just over a year in 1981–82, he remained as resident columnist until his retirement, covering a wide range of topics, both serious and comic.

Levin became a well-known broadcaster, first on the weekly satirical television show That Was The Week That Was in the early 1960s, then as a panellist on a musical quiz, Face the Music, and finally in three series of travel programmes in the 1980s. He began to write books in the 1970s, publishing 17 between 1970 and 1998. From the early 1990s, Levin developed Alzheimer’s disease, which eventually forced him to give up his regular column in 1997, and to stop writing altogether not long afterwards.

Anyway, that quotation from Bernard Levin was, “You’ll never see a thin lawyer or a fat litigant.” In the case of the following story, no doubt both lawyers were paid!



Not the cigars in the story!
Not the cigars in the story!

This took place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against, among other things, fire.

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars, the lawyer filed a 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.

However, the lawyer sued and WON!

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 a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the cigars that perished in the ‘fires’.


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 fine.

(This true story won First Place in last year’s Criminal Lawyers Award contest.)


Perhaps this offers a small clue as to why this Englishman, having now lived in America for more than four years, still finds his new homeland a little strange!

Have a great week-end!

2 thoughts on “Saturday smile!

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