Chip Merlin and Mr. Whammy

I just finished giving a presentation about insurance contract interpretation at FAPIA’s fall conference, and it seemed very well received. It takes a special passion to keep people on the edge of their seats talking about such a nerdy topic.

After I finished, several public adjusters in the audience asked how our Superstorm Sandy cases are going in New Jersey and New York. Most are going great, but it has been anything other than a stress free endeavor. A number of other out of state law firms have lost their shirts. We have been more fortunate and will be in the area as a permanent New York and New Jersey insurance policyholder law firm.

The real blessing going up after Sandy has been meeting and working with those from New Jersey and New York. There is a certain "vibe" in New York and New Jersey that is unique. The people are street-smart and very colorful. For example, how many attorneys would meet a lawyer at a settlement conference known as "Mr. Whammy?" (Nobody can make this up.)

I was at a settlement conference in Ocean County and—a little tongue in cheek—mentioned to the opposing insurance company attorney about wrongfully offering what amounted to "small bits of cheese" to starving mice. The gentlemen next to me then asked what I did and I explained I represent policyholders. He smiled, extended his hand and introduced himself, "glad to meet you. I am Mr. Whammy."

That was unusual. Should I run, ask the bailiff if he checked for firearms on this guy or just play along? I spoke loud enough for the opposing counsel to hear. "Really? Maybe you can put the whammy on that insurance company attorney over there because he is being far too stingy."

Mr. Whammy, aka Bruce Reznick, is the number one basketball fan of the Brooklyn Nets. He explains his fanaticism on the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame:

I am simply a basketball fan who New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets fans have brought to celebrity status. For over 18 years, I have blocked more foul shots than anyone in the history of the game. Using my secret whammy technique, I hex even Hall of Fame players to miss free throws but do not hex Net players who were traded. I am the only contestant whose spouse (Mrs. Whammy) is as big a fan as I am and who in some places is more famous than Mr. Whammy.

The New York Post even had a story about him putting ‘the whammy" on Lebron James last spring:

Mr. Whammy — Canarsie lawyer Bruce Reznick, who stands behind the basket and waves his hands and shouts to distract players as they’re shooting from the line — claims that James had him banned from his usual spot for Friday’s contest.

Asked after the game if he instructed security to remove Mr. Whammy, James — who had 24 points and nine assists — stared blankly at a reporter as he iced both feet in a small container before a Cavs official fired off, “Next question.”

But the diminutive superfan said that James and the Cavs had security move him from his perch a couple feet behind the basket stanchion after James missed a free throw with 10:06 left in the first quarter as he tried to complete a three-point play.

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Perhaps Reznick summed it up best: “You don’t mess with Whammy,” he said before the final buzzer.

I hope that hex Mr. Whammy put on the insurance company works when we go to trial next month.