The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Strange Cases and Wild Tales

by Lewis M. Ress Book Reviews

Strange Cases and Wild Tales Book CoverThis is a delightful must-read book that just allows itself to be read. It’s a collection of stories, as recalled by an attorney who has had a rich and wide-ranging career filled with cases, any one of which would be fodder for a major motion picture.

The plots are tight, and the characters well drawn. The humor is droll and ironic. You can feel the Miami settings where these tales unfold. The details are precise and vivid. Yet the stories are told crisply without a single surplus word. The author shows the picture, rather than telegraphs the message. You are fed these treats in bite-size pieces — stories, some just a few pages — that provide satisfying conclusions.

Like the defense of the personal injury claim by a woman who dislocated her shoulder following an accidental fall, and who presented what appeared to be a super clean case. But on a hunch, the author dug through old records stored in a garage in Ohio, only to discover she was a former side-show performer who could dislocate her shoulder at will.

Or the case he wished he had lost, where an inner-city paper boy was badly injured selling newspapers, and with regret, counsel succeeded in showing that the poor child was not an employee of the newspaper but an independent contractor, and, therefore, not entitled to workers’ comp benefits.

There are so many others, each one richer and more richly drawn than the one before. In the process, Ress unveils the truth about “super lawyers.” South Florida lawyers may recognize some high-profile attorneys in the book whose identities have been thinly veiled. Readers who are not lawyers may appreciate how the author can present a complex legal principle with the simplicity that a child can understand — without even letting on he’s doing it.

The author was in on some of the big deals that made South Florida the place it is today. In them, we see an extremely smart lawyer who thinks outside the box and leverages creativity, resourcefulness, and compassion to accomplish his clients’ goal well and justly. As legal memoirs go, this is a great little piece of entertainment that leaves the reader smiling and inspired, and from which much may be learned. It’s also a good beach read. This book is available on Amazon.

Mark Wolin is a member of The Florida Bar.