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Happy Ending… Sort Of

Shadenfruede… taking joy in another’s misfortune. I’d like to think I don’t experience it much and I think I felt guilty back in 1985.. but the death if Mr. Enciso was good news to me. In case you are just coming into my world and my saga, Me Enciso was ‘torted” by the Los Angeles County Hospital. Yes, I am pretty sure he was. They should never have kept on is stomach with his implant and all unable to move. Nasty


So why wasn’t the county negotiating? I remember Sandy being frustrated and I think surprised by their refusal to negotiate once we had filed and served. Some time went by—I don’t remember what she did during that time—I think probably  sent letters and made calls—the usual strategy for settlement back in the halcyon days when insurance carriers settled cases. (This was in the days of Royal Globe. Cases settled.) One thing is sure—I always knew what was going on with everybody cases. We had a small office and cubicles and we all talked about cases, I learned a lot from overhearing the various partners’ calls.

I felt daunted by the fact that I had no clue what to do at first—I would stare at the phoned an try to decide what I  would say when I got opposing counsel on the line. Luckily. I had a few successes negotiating a small collateral insurance policy and discovered I had a knack for negotiation, But first, the sad story of Massey Enciso.

Some time into negotiations—I remember how wrong it seemed at the time—the County revealed to us that there had been an early claim against the County made by Mr. Enciso. You see, the dance is, you file a claim, the public entity denies it (yes always) and then you get permission to sue. Then you have a short widow of time in which to do so.


Well, it seems prior attorney Mr. Enciso had failed to mention had done this–and the prior attorney had not filed within the statute. His case had been bared when he came to us. We were dead in the water.

Sandy and whoever else was involved had not met with Mr. Enciso—being he was paraplegic he had not come into the office. I will never know if there was a question that should have been asked and wasn’t—I would tend to think so. “Have you sought legal counsel before  now?” *There was some delay after all.) “What treatment have you sought?” I know I always asked such questions when I was solo. But maybe not. Maybe Mr. Massey Enciso lied. I don’t know—I wasn’t there. I just signed the pleading due to quirk of timing. (I will also never know if my intuition made me a better interrogator of potential clients, or if I just learned a useful lesson from this. I do know I was seldom if ever blindsided by a client.)

So, some time later when Mr. Enciso died, the case against me and the firm also died. There are no lost wages when  an indigent  client dies—and pain and suffering dies with the person no matter what was  done  to them. I was off  the hook. Oddly, in retrospect, I remember arguing for and (I think) negotiating a small sum being paid to the common law “wife” (who was really just his girlfriend under California law) as her loss of consortium claim was thin, and I felt sorry for he, So she got some money. I doubt she appreciated it—but I felt it was right. And back then carriers settled cases and that ended this one… except if I ever apply to be an attorney in another state. Sigh.

Next—suffering through incompetence.

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