Not long after graduating from law school (1969), Al received a call from Charlie requesting to meet.  “We have some work we want you to do for us.”  Pacer’s was owed a sum of money and they needed to hire a lawyer.  A lien later... and Pacer’s was Al’s first client.  Through the years, whether mechanical needs, just visiting, or now legal expertise, the relationship carried on.

Al chuckled, as he shared the following story.   “I remember this particular case... still to this day!”  His face lit up, “A woman came into Pacer’s looking to get some engine work done on her car.  A red Volkswagon Beetle.  Though clearly told that she was more-than-likely wasting her money, she wanted the work done.  She disregarded the advise and paid for the job to be completed.  No surprise here.  Whatever she was told would happen, happened.   Despite being warned, she wanted her money back ...and then some.  She sued Pacer’s for $3,000... a lot of money back in the 1980’s.”

Al explained,“Usually these types of cases got settled, because it was difficult to bring an expert in.  By the time you pay the expert, you may as well settle the case.  However, I knew that Charlie was an expert because I knew about the Tasmanian Devil.”

Given the fact that you never can tell what is going to happen in small claims, a judge was requested.  “I remember the judge.  Judge Robert Roberto.  I remember it so well because he was absolutely fascinated by Charlie’s testimony.”

“I elicited all the information from Charlie that qualified him as an expert.”  

FYI ~ In a law suit, witnesses can only testify to facts;  what is observed with their senses - what they saw, heard, tasted, touched... That's it.  No opinion.  The difference is an expert - once qualified as an expert, their opinion is admissible.

An outside expert could have been brought in, a 3rd party which would have been more unbiased... after all Charlie was one of the Pacer’s.  “But why spend the money?  Your not going to get anybody that had more experience than he had - and you can still say that an outside person was bias because he has to be paid for his testimony.”

Al went on, “He had a lot of technical knowledge, so I put Charlie on the stand.  He spoke of the work and designing he did on the Tasmanian Devil.  The Judge was quite uplifted.  His eyes sparkled as he listened to the details of this National Record Holder.”

“Then I asked Charlie ‘Did you do anything else?’  I knew he had done some engine designing, but I still didn’t know the rest of it.  He said ‘Oh yeah, I designed an engine on a boat for SK Ski Racing that was a National Record Holder...’  I knew he did car engines, I never knew he did boat engines?!  The judge had more questions...”

From the moment Al touched on Dad’s George Haug years as a Master Mechanic, the Judge was enthralled.  “By the time he was finished questioning, it was like AJ Foyt was there, and there was no question that we had won the case.”

Listening to the story, I almost felt bad for the woman trying to sue.  She was sitting there, through this, never knowing what she walked into... 

The Judge made his decision from the bench - which, Al assured, was usually avoided - lest arguments break out in the courtroom.