Opinion Issue 15

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The following was received by email:

This is supposed to be a true story and the first place winner in a recent Criminal Lawyers’ Award Contest:

A Charlotte, NC lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other hazards. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, he filed 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: The man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.

The lawyer sued … and won!

In delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. However, the judge stated that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire, and, therefore, was legally obligated to pay the fine.

Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid the $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars in “the fires.”

NOW FOR THE BEST PART OF THE CASE: 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 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.

A satisfying End of Story.