If only because I enjoy commiserating, I welcome stories where “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Lord knows, it’s happened to me more than once. And the chances are good, it will happen again.
So the story about the Tuckerton, N.J. “Good Samaritan“ grabbed my attention. The man stopped his car to move the aptly named Crotalus horridus a.k.a. a timber rattlesnake, off Route 679 and got a fang-ful of thanks. Although he used a stick to save the cold-blooded crawler from harm’s way, the ingrate coiled onto the stick and bit him on his hand for his troubles. See “Rattlesnake bites man in NJ Pinelands” | 6abc.com
“Good deed” lawyers but ‘snake-bit’ anyway.
But there are other forms, albeit figurative, of being snake-bit. Lawyers, for instance, while trying to do good, can get snaked, too.
Take the case of the in-house counsel who “as a favor to his employer,” defended the chief executive’s son in a traffic accident matter. When the son got ball-peened by the judge and had his driver’s license revoked, the in-house lawyer was canned by the company’s CEO. And a malpractice claim followed.
Or how about the pro bono lawyer defending an indigent client from the clutches of a financial institution? “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Novelist Sue Grafton says, “The Latin term pro bono, as most attorneys will attest, roughly translated means for boneheads and applies to work done without charge.”
When things didn’t go well, the pro bono ended up tagged with an “ineffective assistance of counsel” claim against his malpractice carrier. See these and other punished good deeds at OneBeacon Services – OneBeacon Professional Insurance.
And there’s the case of “Ramos v. Jake Realty Co.,” as posted and commented by lawyer Lucas Ferrara at “NO GOOD DEED …” – New York Real Estate Lawyers’ Blog – Newman Ferrara, LLP.
In the Ramos case, plaintiff’s counsel orally consented to an adjournment request from the defendant’s lawyer because a defense witness was unavailable. And relying on the opposing counsel’s supposed persuasive powers to obtain the adjournment, Ramos’ lawyer blithely did not appear for trial. He instead went on vacation.
And in a testament to the Reagan Doctrine of “Trust, but verify“ and to the inevitability of “Murphy’s law” as well as the cynical ethos of “No good deed,” the judge found no joy in the comity of counsel or the defense lawyer’s powers of persuasion.
Instead, he handed down a default judgment dismissing Plaintiff Ramos’s complaint. (Fortunately for Ramos, the appellate court deemed plaintiff’s counsel actions “attributable to excusable law office failure” and subsequently granted his motion to vacate the default and reinstate his complaint).
Pissed-off but maybe not unpunished.
When it comes down to it, though, there is one saving grace from life’s inherent unfairness. And that is the unforgiving truth that though bad consequences seem to follow good works, those who perform misdeeds will on occasion, get their own comeuppance.
Conceding the obligatory presumption of innocence, two accused miscreants separately caught on tape doing similar bad acts also made the news this week. Depending on the videotape, things may not look too good for either one.
The first was Josh Seater, who after a bout of serious drinking, decided to relieve himself in a Portland water reservoir thereby causing what’s been termed, “Oregon’s big flush: Man pees in water supply.”
Notwithstanding that urine is supposedly sterile; not much of a risk to health; and that the amount voided was substantially diluted in 8 million gallons of city drinking water, Portland officials nevertheless decided to flush it all away. What a shame, too. I can think of a few Arizona golf courses that could have used all that water on their sorry fairways.
The other alleged bad actor, also caught piddling on tape, was Tihomir Petrov, a Cal State University Northridge Math Professor. The allegation against mathematician Petrov is that instead of trading in mathematical constructs like the irrational number pi or π, he opted instead for a different irrationality. Add the letters “s” to pi and you get a math professor accused of voiding his piss on another professor’s office door!
Petrov,who was supposedly having a running feud with the other professor, was allegedly videotaped on a nearby hidden camera after school officials had previously found puddles of what appeared to be urine by the other professor’s office door. See “Peeing Professor: CSUN Professor Charged with Peeing on Colleague’s Door.”