Friday, April 29, 2005

Waltz of the Ambulance Chasers.. or should I say "hearse chasers"

There was an unfortunate incident in St. Cloud a couple of weeks ago, in which an inebriated man ultimately died after being subdued upon becoming assaultive, first with a bar employee and then with a bouncer at the Red Carpet, a local St. Cloud nightspot. Justin Smiley, 28, who was reportedly out celebrating his graduation from St. Cloud Technical college, as well as the impending birth of his child, died yesterday after being unplugged from life support over a week ago.

Although the fact that a young father had ended his life, partially due to his choice to become stuporously intoxicated, was very sad indeed; what I found nearly as sad was this full page ad in today's St. Cloud Times:

I was at Bravo Burritos while I caught sight of the ad and thought it to be some kind of a twisted joke. But it wasn't. As if ambulance chasing isn't enough. To say that this ad was in poor taste would be akin to describing wearing a halter top to a funeral as being a a bit underdressed.

I have called this law firm (got the answering service after hours) to voice my utter shock and disbelief, and I plan on calling them again tomorrow. After seeing this ad, I will never again listen to trial lawyers complain that they have an "undeserved" reputation that places them just below pond scum (with apologies to any pond scum I may have offended in this writing).


As of this writing (6:46p CDT, 4/28) the Ad is still up and running on the St. Cloud Times website. I know that there have been numerous complaints. My assertion in the last paragraph still stands.


Thanks to Overlawyered, who sheds an even brighter light on this den of cockroaches:
A tort suit in the making, but state ethical rules prohibit soliciting the decedent's family directly. What to do if you're an enterprising plaintiff's lawyer hoping to comply with the letter of the rules? Post an ad in the paper! To wit, one asking "Have you or anyone you know been injured in a local bar?"


As of 9:13 AM today (4/29/05), this law firm still has the same ad posted on the St. Cloud Times web site. Look for the scrolling "Ad Link" frame in the right column.

I have received this email from one of the attorneys at said law firm:

I thank you for your email and I understand you called a couple of times. I
wish you would have left your number and I would have called you back.

I'm not sure if you read my other emails, but I never did this to get that
case. His family was already represented. I have been looking into this
issue for a couple of months. His incident has raised the attention of the
community. It is very unfortunate that he died.

Did you see my ad in the paper today? Unfortunately it was pushed back in
the sports by the Times. The Times is also the reason that the first ad is
in red and says what it does vs. the defendant who many agree is the cause
for what happened.

I appreciate your understanding that business is business, although I'm not
sure you really are giving me that benefit.

Call me if you would like to talk more.


Below was my response:

I also thank you for your response. While you cite the Times as being
responsible for the content of the ad, and that you had never expected
to get family's account, why the timing? Additionally, it is my
understanding that the ad has run for more than one day (I may be
wrong). At any rate, it is still running on the St. Cloud Times web

The timing of this ad, on a full page, before the man was even buried,
is what at face value appears upsetting. If you were upset regarding
the copywriter's verbiage or the color of the ad, could you have not
called the Times and cancelled it? If not in the actual newspaper, then
on the web site?



I have not yet seen the ad of which he speaks that ran today in the sports section of the St. Cloud Times. I will get a copy and report regarding its contents. Suffice it to say that the offending ad, in all its splendor, is as of this update (1:50p CDT 4/29/2005) still running on the St. Cloud Times web site.

Additionally, I will post the response I get from Mr. Bryant. And for the record, I did leave my number (albeit with the answering service).


I just received this correspondence from Mr. Bryant:
what ad is still running? Did you look at the Paper today? There's a
different one in the Sports section.

I'm not blaming the Times. I took out the ad. I'm paying for it. So I
understand what I could have done. I'm just trying to answer some of the
questions that have been posed about the color and the wording.

The ad was finished last Friday. It ran before he died. Then he died
Tuesday night and I spent a lot of Wednesday dealing with a lot of calls in
both directions. The ad isn't there today.
I replaced it with the new one.

I wrote back giving him the link to the "offending" ad that is still linked to the St. Cloud Times web site.

As Matt Drudge would say...Developing...

I just received another email from Mr. Bryant, who said that he did not know that the ad in question was still linked:
I didn't know that, but have you looked at the paper yet?

As I have stated before, I do not know the contents of the new ad, but will report back as soon as I do...


I checked today's St. Cloud Times sports section and saw a different full page ad:

This ad has also now replaced the ad that was linked at the St. Cloud Times. The Ice Palace applauds Bradshaw & Bryant for its decision to turn what was a visible black mark on the profession into a more honorable cause.