The year 2018 was an interesting one in law in Connecticut with many offbeat and quirky incidents and stories.
Those stories ran the gamut from a personal injury attorney being reprimanded for punching a man in the face to a detailed Connecticut Law Tribune story on attorneys’ rituals prior to appearing before the Connecticut Supreme Court. Our interviews found that attorneys had some funny and, some might say, weird rituals, including one attorney who plays Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender” in order to get ready for oral arguments.
Perhaps the most offbeat incident occurred in April when the Connecticut Law Tribune broke the news of an attorney who was ordered to pay $102,550 after flinging hot pasta during a Connecticut restaurant fight. An unintended target got the brunt of the pasta. The pasta story was picked up the national press and was seen in newspapers across the country.
Following are the five most offbeat, quirky and just downright weird stories we wrote about over the past year. They are listed in order of the most offbeat.
Hot Pasta Restaurant Fight
In one of the weirdest cases we’ve come across, former New Jersey attorney James Sweeney admitted he threw hot pasta at a man during an argument. The brunt of the throw containing the pasta dish, though, veered in the direction of Constance Koulmey, an innocent bystander.
Koulmey fell and struck her head as the pasta and sauce rained down on her. Koulmey complained at the time that her eyes were burning and that spicy sauce was dripping down her head. A jury found Sweeney liable for her medical expenses and injuries and awarded $102,550.
To make the story even more bizarre, Sweeney denied he was drunk as some witnesses had said and he denied the pasta had hot fra diavolo sauce on it. The two people who had the food thrown at them, though, were adamant the sauce was hot and spicy and was, in fact, fra diavolo sauce. The incident occurred at an Oakville restaurant in 2015 when Sweeney, who was arguing with patron Michael Cosmos, threw the dish, of which the pasta and sauce struck both Cosmos and Koulmey.
Personal Injury Attorney Reprimanded for Punching Man in Face
It was supposed to be an innocent baseball game in which parents were watching their young sons take part in the national past-time at a Connecticut ball field. Instead, the grown-ups acted like children and ended up taking a dispute into the parking lot.
Weber, who owns The Law Office of R.J. Weber III, reportedly became incensed after a verbal altercation between his wife, Marlene Weber-Volpe, and John Migliaro Jr. following the game in which the families’ sons were teammates.
According to the grievance committee, Weber-Volpe made comments to Migliaro after the game that were critical of his son’s pitching. The comments came after their children’s team lost. The two men got into an altercation in the parking lot and the attorney reportedly punched Migliaro in the face. Weber was charged with breach of peace and ordered to take continuing legal education courses in ethics.
Attorney Rituals in Preparation for the Connecticut Supreme Court
Not every Connecticut attorney gets to appear before the state’s highest court, but many of those that do have interesting rituals they hope will give them an edge.
For Kelly Reardon of the New London-based The Reardon Law Firm, music is the trick to unwind.
Playing “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart, Reardon said, “gets me going. It gets me a in a fighting mood. I will play the song over and over and over again.”
Staying in Hartford’s Goodwin Hotel the night before is a ritual that Michael Cacace of Stamford’s Cacace, Tusch & Santagata continues to stand firm on and it’s paid off. He has appeared before the Connecticut Supreme Court seven times and won six of the cases.
Food plays a big role for Wesley Horton of Hartford’s Horton, Dowd, Bartschi & Levesque and Proloy Das of Murtha Cullina. Horton, who has appeared before the high court a staggering 130 times since 1973, said “a good meal [the night prior] is a must.” Das, though, said fish is the answer. He’s appeared before the state Supreme Court on numerous occasions and said fish is the meal each night before appearing. “My father always described fish as brain food growing up,” he said.
Pizza Deliveryman Gets $180K After Injury by 400 Pounds of Cheese
Mohammed Hassan injured his left ankle, left knee and back after a hand truck with 400 pounds of cheese fell on him. Hassan, his attorney said, settled with workers’ compensation for $180,000 and is grateful the injuries were not more severe.
Brooke Goff, Hassan’s Shelton-based attorney, said her client considered himself lucky to have escaped more serious injuries from the hundreds of pounds of dairy. “Considering the weight of the cheese, he is lucky his injuries are not a lot worse,” Goff said.
Hassan was delivering the cheese for Domino’s National Commissary when the hand truck slipped and slammed into his knees and ankle.
Counsel Inadvertently Copies Opposing Side on ‘Distasteful’ Emails
Attorney Isabel Del Vecchio had been sparring with opposing counsel in a tough personal injury case when an email she wasn’t supposed to see infuriated her.
Del Vecchio, of The Law Firm of Stephen M. Reck and Scott D. Camassar in North Stonington, knew there was tension between her and Michael Carreira, an attorney with Meehan, Roberts, Turret & Rosenbaum, which represents Liberty Mutual. But, she did not expect the allegation in the message Carreira thought he’d sent only to the adjuster in the case.
“What is she talking about?” Carreira had written. “They have been lying nonstop throughout this case.” That message and the flurry of heated emails that followed were unusually strong in a profession that purports to be focused on civility.
Del Vecchio told the Connecticut Law Tribune at the time that “the emails are a small bit of the total course of unprofessional conduct that drove this case to trial.”