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An Attorney Takes on Attorneys — Who ‘Take Themselves too Seriously’

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Tom Morrison, of Salisbury, Conn., lampoons the legal world in his first novel, “Torts ‘R’ Us,” published this fall and available at Oblong Books in Millerton, N.Y., and Salisbury Pharmacy.

Morrison will discuss the book with Bill Littauer, a retired network newsman who also lives in Salisbury, at an online event sponsored by Noble Horizons (also in Salisbury, Conn.) on Thursday, Jan. 7, at7 p.m. (go to www.noblehorizons.org for details.)

The story revolves around the Peters brothers, Patrick A. (known as “Pap”) and Prescott U. (aka “Pup”) as they leave their comfortable perches in established New York law firms and start their own firm, specializing in class-action lawsuits.

This in turn takes them to New York City strip clubs and to the murky world of Midwestern college basketball.

Along the way there’s a woman who does battle with environmentalists over geese removal, a website that publishes mugshots, and a pulchritudinous paralegal.

If it all sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because the various subplots are “inspired by real cases,” Morrison said in a phone interview.

Asked why an experienced, respectable attorney nearing his well-earned retirement would write a broadly farcical novel making fun of his profession, Morrison was clear: “Lawyers take themselves too seriously.”

Although in his half-century of practice he didn’t do much class-action work, Morrison said he believed that many such lawsuits are frivolous “and should not be brought.”

Referring to the phenomenon of a person receiving a letter inviting the recipient to participate in a class-action suit, Morrison said most of the money from a victory will go to the lawyers involved.

“You’ll get $1.78 and some coupons.”

(Such as the Victoria’s Secret gift certificate which is part of the settlement for the book’s strippers.)

Morrison has a lot of fun with names — the incontestably preppy Pap and Pup, the well-known pharmaceutical company Jumpsum and Gypsum, busybody Nina Nosenyourbus and the Friends of Geese, Groundhogs and Yaks (FROGGY).

Asked if he was worried that his satire might strike someone as actionable, Morrison was sanguine.

“I wish they would,” he laughed. “It would increase sales.”

 

And for those who don’t agree with the words, “It’s only funny until someone files a lawsuit,” there are now virtual online tours of Ralph Nader’s American Museum of Tort Law in his hometown of Winsted, Conn. Famous tort law cases are explained in snappy short text boxes illustrated with cartoons. Go to www.tortmuseum.org. 

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