He was an old timer.
He'd been practicing law for what seemed like hundreds of years.
He was cranky.
He was obnoxious.
He wouldn't give you the time of day.
If you argued the sky was blue, he'd spent fifteen minutes trying to convince you the sky was green.
If you said it was 9:30 a.m., he'd say it was 1:00 p.m.
This wasn't an act.
This was who he was.
A nasty obnoxious trial lawyer.
Someone who I couldn't avoid.
I had the unfortunate experience of trying a case with him.
Everybody I talked to in court knew him.
Not one attorney had one nice thing to say about him.
During the lawsuit he refused to consent to anything.
Even something so simple as adjourning a conference because of a scheduling conflict.
He argued about everything.
Even things that didn't matter.
I wanted another permission slip to get his client's medical records since the hospital said the first one wasn't valid.
"No, I won't give it to you. The first one was good. Take it up with the hospital, not me!" he shouted in court.
We are required to work with our opponents and to be civil to each other.
We don't have to like each other but we are required to be civil.
I don't think he got that memo.
The one that was turned into a court rule.
Even the judge would get frustrated with him.
I hadn't yet tried a case with him.
I was curious to know what juries thought of him.
I was curious to learn whether he was this argumentative and obnoxious in front of a jury.
I wondered if his nasty attitude would appear to be more bullying than anything else.
If so, there are ways to deal with this.
You can butt heads and confront him every step of the way.
You can deflect the nastiness and focus on the case and the facts.
You can become obnoxious yourself and show you're not the only one who can adopt this attitude.
I personally like deflecting and ignoring.
That works well for me.
The attorney didn't know how to react when I did those things during our conferences.
Most people confronted him.
Most attorneys raised their voices and got angry with his crap.
I wouldn't get drawn in to his nonsense.
That drove him nuts.
As our case was approaching trial, he called me.
He said he wanted to negotiate.
I was tempted to tell him to go to hell.
It was outrageous and I told him so.
I expected him to launch into a tirade about injustice and the value of his client's injuries.
He just said he needed to settle the case and this was his number.
I was shocked.
Maybe he wasn't such a jerk after all.
Maybe this outward putz persona was all an act.
An act for the attorneys.
An act for the jurors.
Personally, I didn't care what his motivation was for being a moron.
I didn't like him.
I didn't respect him as an attorney.
I couldn't understand how an injured client could have possibly hired him.
Yet I had an obligation.
To my client.
By the way, in case you couldn't tell, this was early in my legal career when I was a defense attorney representing doctors, hospitals and people who were sued in accident cases.
In addition to conveying his settlement demand, I also gave a detailed opinion of the case and also how the attorney's personality would likely affect the trial and the verdict.
My research revealed that the plaintiff's attorney, this nasty SOB, had some success with his personal injury cases that went to trial.
Not great, but there were some good results.
He made their life a living hell.
They either wanted to pummell him during trial or pull out their remaining hair.
He was that frustrating.
In my report, I indicated that his subdued tone on the telephone suggested that he needed to get out of this case.
That gave us an edge.
That gave us leverage to offer a significantly lower amount than if we fully expected him to go to trial and take a verdict.
I came back to him with an offer.
It was a fraction of what he wanted.
He didn't yell.
He was calm.
"I'll take the offer back to my client and get back to you later today," was all he said.
I knew it.
He wasn't the spitfire I'd heard so much about.
I sensed he had a problem with this case.
Maybe it was one of his witnesses.
Maybe his client's injuries really were not as bad as he made them out to be.
I don't know what he was thinking.
I just know that he clearly sounded defeated as he promised to relay our offer to his client.
When he called me later that day, I asked "Well? What's the decision?"
He tried to get me to offer some additional money.
I could have offered it if I knew it would make the case go away.
The insurance company wouldn't have batted an eyelash if I agreed to the additional amount he was asking for.
My response was a simple one.
"Nope. Sorry. Not a dime more. Either take it or leave it," I said with finality.
I knew it.
I knew he wasn't trying this case.
There was no way I was going to give him a penny more.
I saw through his strategy.
He was obnoxious.
He made my life miserable during the litigation.
Thankfully, I never encountered him again.