Willie was injured in March 1995. After he underwent a long and difficult course of treatment and appeared to stabilize medically, we were able to negotiate a settlement of his workers’ compensation case for $192,000, part of which was paid in cash and part in the form of an annuity, along with lifetime medical care for his injuries at the expense of his employer. The settlement was approved on April 10, 2000. On April 25, 2000, the insurance carrier mailed the check to Willie’s home. It arrived April 28, 2000, but, unfortunately, Willie died the day it arrived. Thus, the check could not be cashed.
We thought it would be a simple matter to have the carrier issue a new check payable to Willie’s common law wife and only dependent, Cathy. However, life and the law aren’t always simple. An adult daughter of Willie, who had almost no contact with her father for almost two decades, came forward and claimed the workers’ compensation benefits represented by the un-cashed check. This issue was then litigated for almost two more years, both at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and before the Court of Appeal. We established that as Willie’s only dependent, Cathy was entitled to the benefits that were accrued and unpaid on the date of his death.
Here is some of the letter Cathy recently wrote to Frank Clifford, our lead attorney in this case:
There were times when I never thought this day would happen, but it has (the check is in the bank), and I wanted to thank you for everything that you have done for me (and Willie) for the past 7+ years. I don’t know if Willie ever personally thanked you, but if not I do so now for him. You and everyone in your firm have provided us with the best legal service that anyone could…
Your law firm, and everyone associated with it, whom I have come in contact with, have just been superb…
So thank you for everything. And next time you see [the defense attorney], please tell him again that I never looked at him as the “bad guy”. I always found him professional and seeming to care about Willie. I am sure this case was difficult for him too.
I have the utmost respect for you and I value the relationship that I have formed with you and your firm.