“FOX 10 News is on the phone,” my secretary announced over the intercom.
“What?” I was surprised, and then annoyed. “What the hell do they want?” It was 4:55 PM and I was trying to get out of the office. I also needed to review Scott Johnson’s* file before court tomorrow morning. I was covering my law firm partner’s case while he was away on vacation. I hated covering court cases for other attorneys because you just never knew what was going to happen. However, my partner had assured me that the hearing was very routine. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said as he headed out the door and off to Hawaii.
“They want to talk to you about the Scott Johnson matter,” my secretary coolly replied.
What? “Okay, put them through.” I sighed and picked up the phone. “Kim Brown here.”
“Is your law firm representing Scott Johnson?” The reporter wanted to know. “Because we’d like to get your comment about the FBI raid on his house where he was shot and killed today.”
Pause. Our firm was representing Scott Johnson for an auto accident case. Why would the FBI raid his house and kill him?
Hmmm…. what to say? “No comment.”
The next morning, at court, I announced my appearance to the court when the bailiff called the case. “Kim Brown, representing the Plaintiff, Scott Johnson.”
The judge peered down from his bench, as if he were surprised that someone had actually shown up. “You do know your client is dead, don’t you?” He demanded. He was an old crotchety guy who looked like he eaten something sour for breakfast.
“Yes, I do, Your Hon…”
“Case dismissed!” He declared and he slammed down the gavel and cut me off mid-sentence.
(In Arizona, the pain and suffering portion of a plaintiff’s personal injury claim dies with the decedent. It does not pass to the estate. Therefore, Scott Johnson’s personal injury claim had essentially expired with him.)
“So — how’s everything back at the office?” My law firm partner wanted to know. He was still in Hawaii. “How did the hearing go?”
Hmmm… what to say? “Fine,” I said. “Everything went just fine. We’ll see you when you get back.” I figured why ruin his vacation?
*Not his real name.
By Kim R. Brown, May 7, 2013