The virtue of telling a client to piss off

Popehat is a blog that I think was born in the same litter of puppies as the Satyricon. We love them. Reason #1 — constant Dr. Who references. Reason #2 — ethics lessons.

In this piece, Patrick provides us with a fantsays letter (based on a phone call he had) declining to represent an insurance company that wanted to sue kids who attempted suicide. In their failed attempts, the kids apparently made a mess in their insured’s homes.

In this day of the legal profession going to hell, and all of us scrambling to stay with the “haves,” as the income gap widens, Patrick’s “fuck you” letter should be distributed to all first year law students. As a lawyer “I am only doing my job,” is not an excuse for doing something sleazy, shitty, or shady.

Anyone who takes those cases should be disbarred and then they should have a bees nest shoved up their asshole, and it should be capped with a cactus. The same fate should befall the flunky who suggested that this might be a basis for a viable claim.

2 Responses to The virtue of telling a client to piss off

  1. Jay says:

    My gut agrees, but it also sets a horrible precedent. In case 1, it sounds a lot more like an accident, and the insured bears responsibility more than the kid, so I’m not as worried about that one. You don’t sue the victim.

    In case 2, however, the tortfeasor is, without a doubt, a tortfeasor. He damaged property through his acts, knowing full well that it was the likely consequence (in addition to his demise). If he simply was careless with a bucket of blood, no one would say that pursuing him for the cost of cleanup is wrong. So, is it now a defense to tort claims that the person was attempting suicide? What if the suicide attempt was with a gun, and the bullet hurt or killed a 3rd party? What if it was by dousing himself with gas, setting himself on fire, and burning down the house in the process? Does the tortfeasor get a pass in those situations? The only real difference between the fact pattern and my hypos are the level of damage, not the surrounding circumstances. Is there a dollar threshold at which it then becomes okay to sue a reckless suicide attempter?

    Perhaps it is the low level of damage that makes it unseemly. But in general, I don’t believe people should be able to escape the damage they caused, unless causing the damage was justified.

  2. pwdennis says:

    I agree with Jay’s analysis. An insurer has a fiduciary responsibility to its insureds. If, in case number two, the damages had been more extensiveand the insured had a significant deductible (perhaps $1000 or $2500) the insurer would be abdicating its responsibility to its insured by not pursuing. Certainly, any attorney with half a brain should understand that fact, and insurers have been sued by their insureds for failing to pursue subrogation

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