War Stories with Garf — Missing Baseball Card Collection (The One Big Lie)

Starring Gregg Garfinkel & Matthew Harvey

Gregg recounts a case involving a vintage baseball card collection supposedly lost by a transportation company on its way to Florida.

Watch the video on YouTube or below (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UE69uqJ5K8)

Full Video Transcript:

Hey Garf, how’s it going? I’m asking around for some attorney War Stories, do you have any interesting cases to share?

Sure come on in, Matt!

So Garf, I can tell you’re a big baseball fan. Do you have any baseball-related war stories?

Absolutely! If you take a look around my office you can tell that my passion is baseball, in addition to practicing law. But 8 years ago I was retained by an insurance company regarding a baseball card claim. This particular claim arose from a shipment of vintage baseball cards from Staten Island, New York to Florida. The shipper claimed that the entirety of his collection was given to the transportation company in New York, but was missing when the goods were delivered in Florida. So basically he was saying that the movers stole the items. So he submitted a written claim that was about 35-pages long, detailing the players, the card manufacturer, the card, and what he paid for it. So that information was passed along to me, and I reviewed that information and I came up with a questionnaire.

OK, so how much was claimant asking for?

The Claimant was requesting $450,000 and gave dollar-amounts for each item he claimed was stolen. But one item jumped out at me when I was reviewing the questionnaire, and that was a 1955 Tops Baseball Card of Mickey Mantle.

Must be pretty rare. What caught your eye about it?

Well, it’s extremely rare. I followed up with a series of questions to the shipper about this item, and he responded. And after I got that response I sent a one-page letter to the client indicating that they should deny the claim in its entirety.

Only one page?

One page. That’s cause the 1955-Tops Mickey Mantle Card never existed.

*Record Scratch*

What?! Never existed?

Correct. So the whole claim, judging by that one item, was a fraud.

Wow. So how’d you know the card wasn’t real?

Due to a contract dispute, Tops did not have Mickey Mantle under contract in 1955 and as a result did not make a baseball card of him. So after I saw that item, I followed up and let the shipper — or the claimant — basically hang himself with his own claim by providing me with further detail about that item. After I received his response, I sent a letter to the insurance company saying “this claim is a fraud and needs to be denied in its entirety.”

$450,000 claim gone, just like that?

Right, in the blink of an eye. All the insurance company did was “We’ve referred your matter out for consideration by and expert; they’ve deemed your claim to be fraudulent in nature and we are going to refer this matter to the department of insurance if you proceed any further.”

Bet they never heard from him again!

That was it. First and last time.

Wow. Well, sounds like you were really the perfect man for the job, Garf!

Well I’d like to think so! It was one of my most enjoyable assignments given my passion for baseball and sports memorabilia.

Alright. So tell me Garf, what do you think the moral of the story is here? What do you think people can learn from the story of the card that never existed?

That’s a great question. It’s very difficult to defeat these claims; it’s basically the shipper’s word versus the transportation company. Next to lawyers, I think that transportation companies are the least favorite defendants that they see in court. So the key in our situation is to find the shipper in the one big lie. And here is was pretty self-evident that the claim was a fraud because he was claiming items that never existed. So when you’re looking for the claims, it’s difficult to refute each line-by-line-by-line, but if you can find one item that’s out-of-place or never existed, then you’ve got yourself a successful defense.

Sounds like you also need the right attorney for the job!

I would like to think so.

Hey well thanks for taking the time to meet with me Garf! I’ll look forward to hearing the next war story.

Any time, Matt.

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