To be an effective advocate for his clients, a lawyer often needs to call upon skills quite apart from a thorough working knowledge of the substantive and procedural law. And if he practices in the northeastern section of the country, as I do, one skill that he will find to be of inestimable utility is a working knowledge of Yiddish. And, particularly so, if he is an Irish-Catholic.
With that bit of information as background, let us return to the most recent post, briefly. Please recall that I had responded to a claim from a home inspector’s client by informing the client that he had no claim because the inspector had executed his duty to him in a professionally reasonable manner, that the client had acted unreasonably in light of the inspector’s findings and that, in any case, his damages were, at best, de minimis.
A week or so later, I received a letter from the client’s lawyer. After reading the attorney’s letter, I immediately telephoned the attorney and greeted him thus:
“Wayne, it’s Joe Ferry.” Pause. “What . . . are you doing . . . with this farkakte case?”
His reaction was exactly what I expected. Like every other Jewish lawyer on whom I have essayed that gambit, he started laughing like hell. For two reasons. One, he knows that this is a very weak case. Two, he cannot believe that this son of Erin is telling him exactly how crappy it is in Yiddish!
Then, thrown thoroughly off balance by that disarmingly accurate assessment of his case, he immediately started walking back the size of the claim.
“Look”, he began, “I know that he’s not entitled to a new roof . . .”
Now at the time, there was a video on NACHI TV of me talking about the Law and Disorder seminars that were then upcoming. I told him to watch the video and call me back.
When he called back, he said “So. You handle these claims all over the country.” I told him that I did and, furthermore, if the claim actually had merit, I would be the first person to suggest to my client that it be settled.
He then asked me to see if my client was willing to throw “any money” to settle. I said that I would ask.
I asked the inspector if he was willing to give his ex-client “anything to go away.”
He replied “Joe, I trust you. I’m willing to give this guy up to $1,000 to go away.”
So I wrote to “Wayne” and basically repeated the letter that I had sent to his client: we were not negligent; you were negligent; even if we were, which we weren’t and even if you weren’t, which you were, you don’t have any damages . . . BUT . . . blah, blah, blah . . . GOOD WILL GESTURE . . . blah, blah, blah . . . CLOSURE, here’s $500.
When I proof-read the draft of that letter, I suddenly had a WTF moment! If we were not negligent AND he was negligent AND he doesn’t have any damages . . . WHY ARE WE GIVING HIM ANYTHING?
So I didn’t.
I re-wrote the final paragraph thus:
“For $350, a home inspector does not take a house apart and put it back together again. No reasonable person expects that. My client put your client on notice of issues with this property that should have prompted him to seek a more intrusive inspection. His decision not to do so was unreasonable in light of those findings and would bar all recovery under familiar principles of the Law of Negligence. Accordingly, his claim is rejected.”
I never heard from “Wayne” or his client, again. This is valuable home inspector training.Already a ClaimsAcademy Member? Log In Register for Joe’s FREE ClaimsAcademy Video Tips Protect Yourself with ClaimIntercept Joe’s Law and Disorder Seminar is Available Online! Receive a Perfected Pre-Inspection Agreement