Chris Smith: First came the heroes, then the helpers, now the lawyers

The wedding photo that floated miles to safety; the deluge of personal-injury lawyers; and the kindness of San Francisco’s men and women in blue, all from PD columnist Chris Smith.|

This photograph of a long-ago wedding was carried by smoky, ashen wind into the yard of the home west of Santa Rosa of Judy and Dr. Richard Sklenicka.

Judy also found three burn-framed pages from books. She looks at the undamaged little wedding-party picture, stamped on the back by the Arrow Photo Service of Minneapolis, and wonders if it might be one of someone’s few possessions to survive the flames.

How she’d love to return the picture. If it’s yours, please let me know.


NOW, THE LAWYERS: It appears that news of the fires that ravaged the North Bay and beyond has touched the heart of the Lalezary Law Firm of Beverly Hills.

“As Reserve Deputy Sheriffs and Personal Injury Lawyers,” reads one of the firm’s new, targeted promotions, “we feel it is our duty to launch a full investigation and bring swift justice for the families who were affected all across of (sic) California.”

That is so sweet. After the limitless demonstrations of valor, selflessness and generosity, we now witness a flood of offers from lawyers from down the block and across the nation to advocate for victims of our greatest disaster - and for an ample share of any judgments or settlements.

There are law firm solicitations on the radio, on billboards, in newspapers, on Facebook, everywhere you look.

Morgan & Morgan of Orlando yearns nobly “to ensure a disaster like this doesn’t happen again.”

The multi-state firm of Baron & Budd must realize it is nonsensical but even so assures Californians that its litigators “know that there is truly nothing that can prepare people for the physical and emotional toll of escaping these terrifying blazes.”

Some law corporations are hosting public meetings for the declared purpose of getting crucial information to people who’ve suffered because of the fires and also, presumably, to collect the names and phones numbers of potential clients.

One wonders why people who lost loved ones or homes to the fires would want to rush into signing up with a law firm just now, when investigations to determine the cause or causes have just begun. It seems also that prospective parties to lawsuits might want to research attorneys, and to consider whether it would be better for them to join a suit with many plaintiffs, or with few.

The eagerness of the lawyers trolling for clients is pretty clearly related to the blood in the water: the possibility that PG&E may not have adequately maintained and protected its power lines.

Operators are ?standing by.


A KEEPSAKE ?FOREVER is the handwritten note that Oakmont resident Star Power (I double-checked) found in her apartment upon returning from evacuation.

“We checked your house out,” it reads. It continues that a concerned neighbor wanted to make sure that Power and her roommate, who’s disabled, were OK.

“Your door was open/unlocked,” the note reads. “We made sure you weren’t home-stranded - then locked up best we could!”



Sgt. Sherry Hicks

Sgt. Brian Rodriguez”

The P.S. from the San Francisco police sergeants really gets to Power, who hated to leave her friends in the aquarium.

“We fed your fish a little bit.”

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and

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