A STATE OF MIND: On the Road: (F)LA Law

by Larry Floersch

So I was lying awake the other night thinking about that whole red-shift/blue-shift thing in the curvilinear four-dimensional space-time continuum when it dawned on me that Vermont must not have enough attorneys. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Lare, you didn’t have to ponder Minkowski spacetime to figure that out. You could have used plain old Euclidean geometry.” And you’d be right, except that I needed to take into my calculations my geographic location, which throws relativity into the mix.

I came to this conclusion because each day I watch TV during the evening news hour. Back home in Vermont the advertisements separating the depressing news stories of the day often are themselves depressing, focusing mostly on psoriasis, dry eyes, colds, flu, shingles, diabetes, insomnia, cancer, heart disease, stroke and, one that looms large in everyone’s life, irregularity. Not exactly something to raise your spirits on a dark winter night.

Here in Florida, when you watch the news you are greeted with ad after ad for law firms and attorneys. These ads are upbeat, with real attorneys — not actors portraying attorneys, mind you! — promising to secure justice and win you caboodles of money for injuries or losses suffered in auto collisions, at the hands of large corporations, through medical malpractice, or from infringement of copyrights or patents. And many of these ads promise that you pay nothing unless they win your case. It’s like a lottery in which you can become somewhat rich (after the attorney fees), the only difference being that instead of buying a lottery ticket, you have to go out and get hit by a car, or, while sitting in your own car in front of a fast food restaurant, you have to spill scalding hot coffee in your crotch.

The ads are not just on TV. There are also attorney ads in newspapers, magazines and on the radio. There are even ads on billboards, which, for those of you Vermonters born after 1968, are large structures erected along the highways on which advertisements are displayed that divert your attention just long enough to cause a crash that will get you into the lawsuit lottery.

The reason there are so many ads for attorneys here in Florida is because there are so many attorneys here in Florida. I’ve been thinking about how it got that way, and I think I chalk it up to a theory similar to one put forth by fellow columnist Dave Barry of the Miami Herald in his book “Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016). Brother Dave’s theory focuses on why there are so many crazy dumb people in Florida. According to Barry, thousands of out-of-state people crowd down into Florida every day. Once they’ve looked around, the smart ones realize it is a peninsula, that is, a dead end, and eventually make their way back north from whence they came. The crazy dumb ones can’t figure that out and just stay, and Florida ends up housing thousands of other states’ crazy dumb people.

I myself have personally witnessed one of these crazy dumb people on Interstate 95 near Ft. Lauderdale. He passed me at more than 75 miles an hour in his Ford Econoline while READING A BOOK, which he was holding with his two hands, and STEERING WITH HIS BARE FEET! Of course, that is nowhere near as saucy a story as the one from Brother Dave of a woman who crashed her car on the Overseas Highway in the Keys while giving herself a bikini shave (she told the investigating officer she was going to visit her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to look her best). This happened while she was managing the accelerator and brake and her EX-HUSBAND was steering the car for her from the passenger seat. A classic case of double distracted driving in which everyone involved was focused on one thing.

Now I’m not implying that the attorneys here in Florida are crazy dumb (although there was that guy back in my college days in Florida who was very proud that he was graduating LAST in his law school class). I know many attorneys, and they are good people. I even know a couple of real judges (as opposed to “so-called” judges). Judges are just like attorneys except they actually know what all those Latin phrases used in law really mean, such as one that is particularly relevant today for obvious reasons, “ipse dixit.”

I think the peninsula effect has created a situation where attorneys come down to Florida just like regular people, to check it out, play some golf with other attorneys, and take the kids to the beach or Disney/Universal Studios. But as we all know, when the number of attorneys reaches a critical mass (WARNING: Cover the eyes of any young children in the room), they begin to LITIGATE. And once they start litigating, it becomes an unstoppable chain reaction. They must litigate like rabbits down here. And that just attracts more attorneys eager to enjoy the pleasures of litigation.

Of course, there may be an alternative explanation (not to be confused with “alternative facts” of recent fame). It may be that all these crazy dumb people down here need all these attorneys because they so frequently crash their cars while reading, shaving and staring at billboards, such as one on Interstate 75 near Micanopy that announces “Café Risque. We Bare All. Open 24 Hours. Truck Parking. Adult Toys. Exit 374.” That one certainly caught MY eye!

Come to think of it, because we have no billboards and the cold winters keep a lot of the crazy dumb people who visit from staying, maybe Vermont has just the right number of attorneys after all. And maybe a Megabucks ticket and worrying about irregularity during the evening news is all I need.

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