Every once in awhile I read a story that makes me hate lawyers. I mean really hate lawyers. I spend a lot of time defending my profession in a variety of arenas -cocktail parties, my law school class, at my sons’ various sports and music events, etc etc. But I read a story today in the NY Times that made me want to cringe and I found myself actually saying “This is BS!” audibly several times on the LIRR this morning. If it weren’t for the fact that it was the Times reporting it I would have thought the whole thing was a hoax. PLEASE READ ON _ YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS STORY!
Todd J. Remis is suing H & H Photographers (a Bronx stalwart for over 60 years) because the company’s videographers missed the couple’s last dance and the bouquet toss. OK, I would be upset if my videographer didn’t catch those two events and I may even ask for some reduction in his $4,100 fee. But Remis is not satisfied with that. He is suing for $48,000.00 so that he can fly everyone to NY and recreate the wedding. Here’s what Remis says:
I need to have the wedding recreated exactly as it was so that the remaining 15 percent of the wedding that was not shot can be shot.
No you don’t. You need to be refunded for the cost of the videography. That’s it. But wait – you don’t think I would have written about this if the story ended here, do you? Remis was married to Milena Grzibovska in 2003 and they separated in 2008, finalizing their divorce in 2010. That’s right – they are DIVORCED! She is now back in her native Latvia and he wants her, her mom and her sister flown back to recreate these precious moments. It doesn’t say how the once-happy couple met, but “mail order” seems like a possibility. Remis filed his lawsuit in 2009 just before the expiration of the statute of limitation and over one year after his separation from his wife. Maybe he was repeatedly watching the video over and over again lamenting his loss and desperately wanted every minute of his special day preserved.
So I immediately wondered what kind of lawyer would take this case and the story gets worse. It seems Mr. Remis’ Daddy is Shepard Remis, a litigation partner at Goodwin Proctor one of those monolithic firms with hundreds of lawyers and dozens of offices around the country. Daddy Remis is a partner in the Boston office (figures) and he got his firm to do this case for sonny boy.
But whats worse is that H & H hired solo practitioner Peter Wessel who has racked up $50,000 in legal fees already according to the Times article! Dan Fried, the current owner of H & H says in the article that this case is “an abuse of the legal system.” It is. But it is also a shameful example of exploitation by lawyers. I don’t know Mr. Wessel and he may be a very accomplished litigator, but if he is going to rack up fees in excess of the amount demanded he better have something in writing from his client that he is authorized to do so. Otherwise, he should have settled the case – as stupid as it is. I also see absolutely no reason why this case would generate those type of fees. The discovery is very limited and there is hardly any paper trail or mounds of documents to go through. Its probably a one or two page contract for the $4,100 fee H & H Charged. A deposition of Mr. Remis, a deposition of the company and you’re ready for trial. $50,000 is an obscene amount to have to expend on this case. There are lots of cases where wedding photographers get sued over lost or lousy pictures and courts typically award a percentage of the contract price based upon how much of the photography was lost or not up to par. (See for example Andreani v. Romeo Photographers & Video Productions 17 Misc.3d 1124(A)(NY Civ. Ct 2007)).
Goodwin & Proctor should really examine the use of their resources on a case like this and Daddy should tell Junior that its time he grow up, get over it and not expect Daddy to fight his battles for him. But that’s just my opinion.