How not to present a case

The SE Texas Record Mar. 13, 2010, 5:00am

Here's an oldie but a goodie: A customer hands the cashier a ten. After getting change, customer insists it was a twenty and is owed ten dollars more.

Here's another: Shoplifter bring back things stolen from a store and demands a refund. No receipt is offered because it was "misplaced" or the item was a "gift." If the clerk questions this, offense is feigned and legal action is threatened.

But for sheer audacity nothing trumps a guy who insists he left an $800 coat at a restaurant and now demands to be reimbursed for it.

A man named William Ogletree did just this. He claims he left his Polo coat at a Houston Intercontinental Airport food court on December 30th when he popped in to buy a slice of pizza on his way to catch a plane to Las Vegas.

As first reported January 18 by, Ogletree sent a warning letter to the City of Houston, Continental Airlines, and Westfield Concession Management threatening to sue all three entities if they did not reimburse him $800 for his "expensive black leather coat."

Ogletree acknowledges that he can't remember the name of the restaurant, but says he would recognize it if he saw it again. He doesn't have a receipt for his meal, but he does have the confirmation number for his flight. In other words, he can prove he got on the airplane but not that he was in the restaurant.

Even if he could prove that he left his jacket behind, whose fault would it be?

Here's the best part: Ogletree, formerly of Beaumont, is a Houston trial lawyer.

It doesn't make much of a case, does it? It also doesn't make much of an officer of our court, who seems to be using special privileges with which he is entrusted, not in the name of truth or justice, but for petty self-interest.

There's nothing worse for the profession than those who bully others with frivolous threats of lawsuits. The next time you discuss what folks think of lawyers, remember William Ogletree and his coat.

When tolerating colleagues like this, scorn heaped is scorn deserved.

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