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Friday, February 07, 2003



This is the best lawyer story of the year, decade and probably the century.

A Charlotte, NC, lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other things.

Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer 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: that 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. The Judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire, and was obligated to pay the claim.

Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires."

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 being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.

This is a true story and was the 1st place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.


U r b a n l e g en d s - persistent rumors on the web

The story above was sent to me by a friend of mine. It was forwarded to her by one of her clients. She passed it on to me because she thought it an entertaining read. After reading the story I agreed wholeheartedly with her, although I instantly doubted its credibility.

Given the outrageous claims put forward by plaintiffs of any creed and denomination; it’s easy to be swept away by stark tales about the judiciary, whether they originated in the US, or in Western Europe, a less extravagant judiciary domain. Most people would not bother to track the origin of these stories. Trying to clarify the ‘Criminal Lawyers Award Contest’ connects to an obscure site offering legal services. Apparently no such contest does exist. The lawyer tale ranks as an example of fact and fabrication; contemporary mythology that is rife on the web.

What is the definition of an urban legend? Peter van der Linden and Terry Chan attempt a definition in their alt.folklore.urban faq:

-An urban legend appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in varying forms
contains elements of humor or horror (the horror often "punishes" someone who flouts society's
-Makes good storytelling.
-Does NOT have to be false, although most are. ULs often have a basis in fact, but it's their life after-the-fact (particularly in reference to the second and third points) that gives them particular interest." checked the “Lawyer Contest” story above thoroughly, but failed to find conclusive results leading to its origins A quote from their findings states:


“This story is decades old and likely originated as a joke. A much briefer version appeared in a 1965 toastmaster's manual and was apparently the direct inspiration of the earliest Internet variant, posted in a Usenet discussion in February 1996. We find the tale set in North Carolina for the first time in this Usenet version dated February 1997.
As it made the email circuit the story grew longer and more detailed, and by the time 1997 was out the familiar version set in Charlotte, NC had become standard. At that point, David Boraks, a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, tried vainly to authenticate it. "Somewhat sheepishly," he
wrote, "I've tried to verify the cigar story. But searches of court records and newspaper files fail to turn up a single case or N.C. news article matching the incident."



For the crown of most complete source of urban legends available on the web, must be the prime contender. This site probes and surveys an exhaustive pool of most imaginable popular rumor, legend and myth.

From the abundance of stories featured; I selected two amusing nuggets:



From the Australian edition of The Reader's Digest, November 1977, "My Brother: Surgeon and Shark Man" by Sir Lionel Coppelson as told to Leonard Bickle:

In April 1935 a four-metre tiger shark was captured and put into a pool in the aquarium at Coogee, a suburb of Sydney [1]. On Anzac Day [2], visitors to the aquarium were astonished to see the shark disgorge a human arm - with a length of rope still tied around the wrist. Had the shark, captive for eight days, torn the arm earlier from a swimmer or a drowned body? The police consulted Victor. To his practised eye, it was clear the shark teeth had seized the arm at the elbow; but human hands had severed the limb at the shoulder - crudely, hacking with a blunt knife. From fingerprints and a tattoo, police established the arm as that of James Smith, employed as caretaker of a luxury yacht alleged to have been engaged in drug-running. Possibly he had learnt too much; police deduced that he had been murdered and his dismembered body dumped at sea [3]. There was a series of three murder trials, but no convictions, and the case was never officially solved. The night before the inquest, a key witness was found dead in a car near the Harbour Bridge.

-Peter Thompson-


Was Beethoven Black?

“I just recalled that I once (heard|read) that once upon a time, a (black nationalist|Black Studies professor|someone) put forward an argument claiming that Ludwig von Beethoven was black.
Has anybody heard of this? Who made this claim, and when? On what was the argument based? How seriously was it taken?

Beethoven was nicknamed "der schwarzer"-"the black one".This appears to be the basis for that preposterous claim. I don't think it is taken seriously at all. This was discussed not long ago in”

Richard Urena


“This is an "accepted fact" in some circles. For example, note the following: [At Stanford University] a group of black and white students debated the racial ancestry of Beethoven. The
black students CORRECTLY MAINTAINED [caps mine] he was a mulatto. Later, the white students defaced a poster of Beethoven by giving him stereotypical black features and posted it on the black student's door.

ALthough Beethoven's African heritage is an "accepted fact" to some, it just isn't true. Beethoven' contemporaries noted his dark hair and swarthy complexion, but no one ever called him a Negro or mulatto. His genealogy is well-documented, and no records of his ancestors mention that any of them were African, either (they were mainly Dutch and Flemish).

On the other hand, George Bridgetower (1779-1860), a talented violinist for whom Beethoven wrote his "Kreutzer" sonata, was a mulatto, and was frequently noted as such (Beethoven even originally entitled the piece "Sonata mulattica").* But if Beethoven had been black or mulatto, someone would have noticed. Calling him "ein swartzer" just meant he had a darker than usual complexion; just as king Charles II of England was often described as a "black man" because of his rather Italian looks. Not that it would bother me if Beethoven had been black. But he just wasn't.”

-Tom Wood -Newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban-



© 1991-1998 Jason R. Heimbaugh.


posted by Walter at 2/07/2003