(This “story” first appeared in the FFB News Feb. 12, 2003.)
Most everybody has some relative – a brother, a cousin, an uncle – that they’re not too proud of. Maybe there’s a drinking problem or the guy’s a womanizer – whatever – but nobody in the family spends a lot of time talking about this character.
On the other hand, we love to tell about our relatives who have made it big. Maybe the person is a college professor or a doctor or even a preacher. My uncle Al fits into both categories: he’s a scoundrel and he made it big. His story…..
As a young man and even as a kid, Al had an enormous appetite for the finer things in life. He panted over Cadillac convertibles, the ones with the big fins. He liked to wear cashmere sport coats and tasseled loafers, huge gold watches and flashy rings. Uncle Al was never happier than when he could run up a big tab at the best restaurant in town. Oh yes, how he loved to have women – the bigger and flashier the better – hanging off his arms.
Al realized early on that in order to have a life knee-deep in material goodies, he needed to make some serious money. After checking out every street paved with gold, he came to the conclusion that no profession, no career – nothing – offered more opportunity to score big than being a lawyer. Politics was a close second.
Al was a second rate law student, but somehow he managed to pass the bar on his fifth try. He began his career working as a flunky for a notorious ambulance chaser. This lawyer, who went by the name of “Barry Brown,” ran ads on TV and in the newspapers seeking clients who had been “victims” of a variety of mishaps. This list included auto crashes, nursing home bed sores, bad tires, asbestos-related diseases, and burns from hot coffee served by fast food chains.
It didn’t take Al long to grasp what a money machine Barry Brown had going for himself. Brown’s cut of the inflated settlement money was 50% – and this was after his phoney, blown-up expenses were taken off the top. Brown had homes on every continent and garages crammed with Mercedes, Bentleys, and Ferraris. Al could hardly stand it.
Al knew there just had to be a mother lode out there waiting for him. He was aware of the fortunes being carted off by lawyers involved in the tobacco fiasco. He swooned over the billions being siphoned off to another set of lawyers representing folks who claimed they had some asbestos related diseases. Al’s problem was that it seemed as if every possible injury – real or imagined – was already in litigation, and that there was nothing left for Al to hook his greedy mitts on to.
But Providence has a way. One Saturday while working in his garage repairing a broken screen door, Al hammered his thumb instead of the nail. That sucker hurt! This was real pain! And then it hit him: “Eureka!” he shouted. Al had found the perfect class-action lawsuit. The pain and suffering endured by millions throughout the world caused by hitting their thumbs with hammers needed to be recompensed. And not only was payment for the actual pain and suffering called for – but a carload of money was needed for punitive damages so as to send a clear message to those responsible.
And the rest is history. Al filed his lawsuit in some backwater State’s of Mississippi county. A very sympathetic judge allowed Al to invoke the legal doctrine of joint and several liability, permitting him to go after anybody remotely connected to the manufacture and sale of hammers . . . The jury, out only ten minutes, awarded the victims $5,000,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000,000,000 in punitive damages.
After all the assets of the hammer companies were delivered to the plaintiffs, the nail manufacturers and vendors of hammers such as Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowes, soon followed with all their money resulting in a total of $500,005,000,000 being moved into Al’s bank account.
Al, with the permission of the court, issued a $10 merchandise certificate to each victim as their share of the settlement. These certificates were redeemable against the purchase of a rubber thumb protector (retail price of $49.50), the patent of which was held by none other than Uncle Al!
Update: Uncle Al recently purchased Antarctica for the site of his winter home. He also dumped his third wife and because of their pre-nuptial agreement, she had to give Al her mink stole, the dog, and her VW. Nobody knows where she is today.
Neither my mother nor my father will admit as to which side of the family Al comes from.