Go Sue Yourself!

Perhaps based upon a well-known, anatomically difficult, consensual act, Wells Fargo has sued itself in a Florida foreclosure case reported by Business Insider earlier this month:

“Wells Fargo holds the first and second mortgages on a condominium….As holder of the first, Wells Fargo is suing all other lien holders, including the holder of the second, which is itself.”

Nice move, Wells Fargo. But I had that self-abusive idea first.

In 1989, while working for Montgomery Securities in San Francisco, I zapped a friend by hacking into our pre-internet business wire and generating this official-looking “news story.”

The hard-to-read original text in the sidebar is:


San Francisco, Ca, April 5/PRNewswire/ — In an unprecedented legal maneuver, Montgomery Securities broker Michael Balog sued himself in Federal District Court for churning his own account.

“I’m a compulsive trader,” charged Balog, “and since a broker should know his customer, I should have protected me from myself.”

“Nonsense,” countered Balog, “I show poor judgment in almost every aspect of my life, and I find such behavior consistent with my investment objectives and trading patterns.”

The formal complaint charges that Balog coerced himself into trading extensively in options and futures as well as common stocks his firm did not even cover in its research activities. Balog has demanded full restitution, as well as unspecified punitive damages that are expected to exceed his personal net worth. Melvin Belli, Balog’s attorney, explained, “My client has been emotionally unable to total up the thousands of confirmations that flooded his mailbox in 1988, but the commissions were at least seven times the capital he started with.”

“What makes this case especially tragic,” continued Belli, “is that Mr. Balog, an average American Joe, entrusted his life savings to someone who was inexperienced and out-of-control.” Belli described Balog as a “hard-driving, aggressive salesman whose high-pressure technique overpowered the naïve plaintiff. It’s a damn shame when an unscrupulous egomaniac rides roughshod over an honest gentleman whose only mistake was to trust himself.”

Officials at Montgomery Securities praised Balog’s salesmanship. “He’s one of our top youngsters,” acknowledged John Skeen, the firm’s grandfatherly sales manager. “Balog’s production was really jagnormous. Whenever a month got slow, he was always willing to work his own account for the benefit of the firm. If I have one complaint, it’s that he spent too much time on his own investments.”

In evaluating the charges that Balog brought against himself, Montgomery Securities general counsel Jack Levin stated, “We stand behind our brokers. Balog did nothing wrong. He signed the discretionary papers. He chose himself as his broker. He knew what he was getting.”

Balog cautioned that he might countersue both himself and his employer. “Montgomery prohibited me from stuffing my account with our deals. And they gave me zero payout. When I think about what I could have made, I’m just sick.”

Life again imitates Art. The Art is humorous; the Life is laughable.

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