“Edgar Bergen is not a party to this suit. The plaintiffs are Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.”

“Shari Lewis is not a party to this suit. The plaintiffs are Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse.”


“Jeff Dunham is not a party to this suit. The plaintiffs are Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist.”



Hmm. Do we sound silly?


Edgar Bergen, Shari Lewis, and Jeff Dunham are famous ventriloquists. Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse, Walter, and Achmed are some of their most popular puppets. Needless to say, the dummies don't speak for themselves.


If Charlie McCarthy went to court, you can bet that Edgar Bergen would be there with him. And the same holds true for the artificial alter egos of Lewis and Dunham.


Like ventriloquists, attorneys speak for their clients, often dictating what they do or don't say on their own. They're not called mouthpieces for nothing.


Still, for the act to work, the observer has to be willing to suspend disbelief and the ventriloquist/attorney has to have a modicum of skill.


If attorney Mark Hurt were playing vaudeville, he'd have gotten the hook by now.


Hurt filed a whistleblower lawsuit in Virginia federal court against Purdue Pharma, maker of painkiller OxyContin, in 2005. His client was Mark Radcliffe, a former sales representative and district manager for the company. The case was dismissed for failure to plead fraud with sufficient particularity.


Five years later, Hurt filed a nearly identical suit. His clients this time were Radcliffe's wife and a former subordinate. This case also was dismissed.


Following dismissal, Purdue Pharma moved to have Hurt and his clients pay the company's $850,000 legal bill.


Dressed in top hat and tails and sporting a monocle, snarky Charlie McCarthy often got the best of Edgar Bergen in their verbal exchanges, which frequently concluded with Charlie demanding of the puppeteer, “Who's the dummy now?”


Mark Hurt might want to ask himself the same thing.

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