Bad Lawyering

Here is an exercise with a difference, it’s about Bad Lawyering; as  it turned out, it was a simple exercise in critical thinking and common sense.

During the seventies, I was involved in a car accident that resulted in substantial damage to my vehicle, the other driver took responsibility for the accident and informed his Isurance company, and they agreed to pay a leading garage to fix the car.

The car was fixed, but when I was collecting the car, I refused to accept delivery until we had carried out a test run; Thank God I did, there were still mechanical damage as a result of the accident, that wasn’t fixed.

The mechanic asked me to sign the work order to fix the existing problem, stupid me! without hesitation signed the work order.

When the car was finally fixed, we took the car for a test run a second time, but the owner of the garage refused to release the car until I paid the bill. Unknown to me the garage had already presented the bill to the insurance company; but they refused to pay, citing the fact that they had agreed to a set amount for the repairs, and was not prepared to pay anymore, adding the garage had made the error and should take responsibility.

The argument went on for a few days and I desperately needed my car. I thought of what I thought was a clever solution, that turned out to be a grave error. There was no way for me to drive my car out of the garage without permission of the garage owner.

In order to secure the release of the car, I wrote a check for the second set of repairs, drove the car out of the garage; drove straight to the office and called the bank requesting that the check be canceled, they complied, but that was my second mistake.

The Garage continued to demand their money, and I continued to refuseto pay. One day I receive a summons to appear in court, to answer charges for a certain sum of money that I had refused to pay the garage.

The lawyer I wanted to represent me was a politician I knew for many years, but he was unable to take the case and recommended his brother, a lesser known lawyer.

The case lasted one day in court, and I lost; these were the judges words to me in handing down the results.

“Mr. Devonish you do not have to lose this case, talk to your lawyer when you leave this courtroom; when you signed the work order, you accepted responsibility for payment; further more I must warn you that paying with a bounce check is a criminal offense, not many people are aware of it.

I certainly was not, and the lesson was well learned, on many an occasions I had to warn customers who had paid my business with a bounce check; it resulted in speedy action.

As we were walking across the courtyard, This was the comment from my lawyer;

“Sorry you last the case, and I don’t know what the judge was talking about, you lost.”

That was the end of that. 

A few days later the mechanic who asked me to sign the work order paid a visit to my place of business and apologized for asking me to sign the work order ,and promtly compensated me for the . monies I had to pay the garage.

” They will pay for it eventually’ and left.

A couple years later, while I was in Canada, I became close friends with a lawyer who represented a government department; after relaying the story; he said, “the judge was right”

This is the critical thinking exercise; What message was the judge sending to my lawyer?

What further action should my lawyer had taken to win my case?

I await your answers.

12 Comments


  1. I actually can’t stop laughing reading through this post, its really interesting and funny as well. The incident is really full of culprits, starting from the insurance company, to the Mechanic, and then the man himself. Concerning your question about what the Judge meant by what he said to you, I think what he meant was that the case was still in your favour in the sense that what the mechanic did was a criminal offense punishable by law, he made you sign with you not knowing what agreement he had with the insurance company, also the insurance company too is a culprit too and can be punishable.

     I think what the judge meant was that if the man can explain to his lawyer that it wasn’t with his consent that the insurance made the deal with the mechanic, and if the lawyer is able to defend him, he may win the case. This is my own little opinion. Thanks, I enjoyed reading through every line of this article.

    Reply

    1. As you can see from Gomer’s response the mechanic should not have asked me to sign the work order, I assume you have legal training, I did not know that his action was a criminal offence.I suspect the owner of the garage held him responsible for the extra work, he- the mechanic did compensate me after the court case, but his remarks told me the case was not finished, he was going to get his money back-(not my business.) Thank you for  providing clarity. Best wishes.

      Reply

  2. Thank you for this article. It seems like the judge said that you don’t have to lose the case. But the lawyer had pretty much given up on it already. I guess the fact that you signed the work order and then paid with a bounced check was not in your favor, even though you hadn’t realized it at the time. 

    But I think if the lawyer would have stood up for you a bit more, and said that the insurance should have paid for the car damages, and repairs, then you could have won the case. The mechanic shop tried to give you a car that was still broken the first time, and they shouldn’t have done that. 

    So it was really the mechanic shops fault because of their initial negligence. I’m sorry that happened to you and thanks for the story because I will be careful of that in the future.

    Reply

    1. Yes it was a good thing that we had the test run, if I had driven the car away and discovered the job was not complete, it could have led to more complications. I have a strong feeling the insurance company would have refused to pay any additional charges, placing the negligence on the  mechanic and the garage.Thank you.

      Did you have any legal training?

      Reply

  3. Quite a funny event to me, and I must say its an experience bonone would want to have again. The idea of appearing in a court room makes me sick I must confess. However for me I believe the judge was indirectly telling your lawyer he isn’t good by making the statement  “you don’t have to lose this case”. Also your lawyer should be aware that issuing out a bounce check is against thee law. I’m not really sure what your lawyer could have done to win, but I feel he  could have stated you were made to sign a paper without you being well informed what you were singing. My opinion, thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for visiting, my first error was in taking possession of the car. That is the first hint to what the judge meant. 

      That should give you the answer; have another go.

      Reply

  4. Thisbiss quite saddening to know. I must admist i know how it feels to have issue just because of your cat and the mechanic isn’t making it look good. Going to the court is a bad idea for me when your lawyer already knew you we’re involved in some activities that is against the law and you didn’t stand a chance and from what the judge said I picture he expected your lawyer to have told you giving someone a bounce check is a bad idea and with that its a lost case.

    Reply

    1. You are correct, the lawyer should not have allowed the case to get to the court; but take the action the judge was suggesting. Are you able to come up with an answer, Who knows why he went to court, I am still pondering it. All the best, the answer is not that difficult. Best wishes; if you get it, please share.

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  5. Firstly, very great article and I must say that it feels nice to learn a whole lot of things through your experience. Sometimes when issues like this spring up, it is really a bad thing and a deficiency to know that ignorance has made you to sign that but could your lawyer not have demanded from you if you had signed any form of agreement over the car? Also, could he not have made proper research on the insurance companies policy too? I believe these two could have made the case much more open to attempt.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for visiting, the meat of the problem was my signing the second work order after the insurance company had signed the first one to fix all damages as a result of the accident. There is an easy answer to the problem, a little critical thinking will give you the answer. Best wishes

      Reply

  6. Sounded like the judge was trying to help you with the case but the way your lawyer had presented wasn’t a good one. Well I must say you’re very lucky the garage owner came back to apologise and pay back some of your losses but I dont seem to be able to crack up your question. I dont know so much about law and the brain exercise. You wanna helo?

    Reply

    1. sorry it was not the garage owner that compensated me, it was the mechanic, an employee. think hard I now see it as common sense, didn’t at the time. Thank you for engaging.

      Reply

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