It hasn’t been easy for personal injury attorney, Angela Caruso, to make it big in the professional world. It’s no wonder --- she picked a profession that’s associated with insurance fraud, malingerers and late-night, cheesy television commercials.

Finding a lasting relationship hasn’t been a walk in the park either. Angela’s Italian family just wants to live long enough to see her walk down the aisle and the man of her dreams is a big, fat know-it-all.

Angela thinks she’s on the road to success when she’s hired by a client who claims to have a horrific injury that causes the worse pain known to man. But, Angela’s client has some secrets and victory is far from certain.

The only thing Angela knows for sure is that she wants to sock it to American Collective Insurance Company where it hurts the most – their pocket. Teaching defense counsel a lesson would be an added bonus. He’s won too many undeserved victories in the courtroom – not to mention the bedroom.

Suited up for an award winning performance in a navy, pin-stripe ensemble and her personal version of war paint, Angela marches to trial, but soon realizes that what she needs the most is something only defense counsel can give her.

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While Benjamin headed back to the garage, I walked into the judge's conference room. I looked up to see Nick sitting there.

"Hey, sweetart."

"Oh, I'm at least partly sweet today?"

Nick smiled and then looked at his watch.

"It's only eight o'clock, and you're already harassing me."

"That's nothing. Where's your adjuster? I hope someone from the company is going to be here for either Robyn or Dr. Hurtham's testimony."

"He'll be here," Nick said nodding. "So, your doc made it in?"

"He's coming tonight. He'll be on the stand in the morning."

"Great," Nick said sarcastically while continuing to nod.

"So, your gal won't take our twenty-five?"

"No way."

"Twenty-five thousand dollars buys a lot of cigarettes, booze and trips to the county fair you know."

"I dare you to say that in front of the jury."

"Where is your little missy? Practicing her convulsions?"

"You're just plain mean today. I'm going to wait for the judge in the hall," I said with my nose in the air while trying to stomp out of the room on carpeting.

As soon as I entered the hallway I spotted the judge.

"Good morning, Your Honor," I said in my sweetest voice with my best smile.

"Hi Angela. Did you settle your case?" she asked walking toward me.

"I wish. American Collective is being stingy on this one," I said in a loud voice while trying to throw it in the direction of the conference room.

"Is that true, Mr. Sourvanos?" the judge asked Nick while peeking in the conference room.

"Not at all, Your Honor."

"So Angela is lying then?" the judge asked while taking off her coat.

Yes! The points were racking up in my favor already.

"Of course not," Nick said diplomatically. "We just have a difference of opinion on the value of the case -- again."

The judge sat down. She was an attractive woman -- in her late forties with long, reddish-brown hair. She must have done a lot of sun worshipping as a teenager because her skin was tan, but wrinkled and scattered with freckles. She was dressed casually with a sleeveless sweater and black pants. I was impressed with her attire.

Hell, if I got to wear a judge's robe while working, I'd be in my pajamas.

"All right," she said, turning to me. "What's the last demand?"

"Eight Hundred Thousand."

Without batting an eyelash she turned to Nick.

"Twenty-five thousand," he said without being asked.

"Come on, folks," she said shaking her head. "How in the world can you smart people be so far apart? Who am I to put pressure on today?"

I smiled and pointed at Nick.

The judge smiled back.

"I have some additional authority," Nick chimed in, showing he was at least willing to negotiate.

"What's the problem with her case, Nick?" the judge asked.

"Her client is a fake," Nick said with a face as straight as a line.

I closed my eyes and shook my head.


"My client has a medical condition both doctors will say causes the worst pain known to man--"

"Was childbirth considered?"

"You know, I wondered that myself," I chuckled back.

"Anyway," Nick interrupted.

"Anyway, the condition is diagnosed solely on clinical presentation. So, of course the defense thinks she's making the whole thing up."

"What's the name of the injury?"

"Trigeminal neuralgia," I responded. It's caused--"

"I've never heard of it before," the judge said with eyes lowered.

"Exactly," Nick chimed in.

"It is rare," I agreed. "But, Your Honor, if we're talking about settlement or compromise let's look at Nick's best day at trial and mine. If the jury believes my client, then this is a high, six-figure case. If they don't, I think the defense doctor concedes to around two thousand dollars. I'm willing to meet in the middle. But it has to be six figures."

"Make the call, Mr. Sourvanos," the judge ordered.

Nick looked madder than a hornet. It was so nice to be on the opposite side of the ass- kicking for once.

"Of course, Your Honor. I'll be right back."

Before the judge and I could catch up on her latest office decorating ideas, Nick was back in the room. His speedy return told me he never made the call to his adjuster.

"I can't get to one hundred. Sixty thousand is our best offer. Not sixty-five. Not sixty-one. Sixty," he said, doing his best to regain some dignity.

"Talk to your client, Angela. I'll call up the jury."