Monday, May 22, 2006

Grandfather B takes on BIG BUSINESS

Armour Meat Packing was founded in 1864 by Philip Armour who made two million dollars in 90 days selling cattle on the futures market betting that the end of the Civil War would drive down the price of beef allowing him to fill his orders at a much lower price. It did.

Today, Armour is a part of ConAgra Foods along with Hunt's Foods, Hebrew National, Orville Redenbacher, and just about anything you buy in the grocery store. The irony that one of their brands is called Healthy Choice is that at the turn of the 20th century the shoddy practices at Armour plants gave rise to demands for federal meat inspection.

While Philip Armour was hailed in Chicago as a leading philanthropist, a whole genre of writing called "Muckraking" was inspired by the fact that although a living wage at that time was considered to be $15.50 per week, Armour employees were said to average $9.50 per week.

What has this to do with Gandfather B?

In the 1920's Grandfather was driving to Seattle through a duststorm when he discerned the outline of a stalled car at the side of the road. As he drew closer, he saw a young man waving and stopped to render aid.

The man had pulled to the shoulder during the height of the storm and now he was stuck in the soft sand. He had a family in the car.

As Grandfather prepared to help, a car owned by Armour Meat Packing smashed into Grandfather's car causing about three hundred dollars damage.

Grandfather put in claim to Armours. They refused to pay. If they paid a claim, who knows how many claiments would besiege them?

Grandfather sued them. Normally, in the State of Washington if you hit a car from behind you are responsible but Armours sent bright young lawyers who cited the fact that the car was stopped in the roadway and the visibility was limited, etc, etc. and the judge ruled in their favor.

Grandfather was not about to let them get away with this bullying. He knew of a lawyer, I believe named King, whose reputation was that if their were no witnesses to an accident, when the trial started he could produce witnesses to testify in favor of his client.

On appeal, as a precursor to later Good Samaritan laws, the lower court was reversed and Grandfather got his money and struck a blow for "the little guy".

My father told me the story and Arny showed me the record in one of his law books. Barer v Armour


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