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Judge Pens McLaughlin Group Style Opinion in McLaughlin Case

John McLaughlin was one of those TV personalities that stood the test of time. The man maintained a constant news media presence for over 30 years, hosting one of the most celebrated, and balanced, talk-news programs in modern history, The McLaughlin Group.

Sadly, he passed last year, leaving behind an estate worth litigating over. And while the litigation may have resulted in frustration and delay for his heirs, for the general public, the Memorandum Opinion and Order resolving the matter is pure nostalgic gold as it was written as if the TV personality had come back to life to pen it himself. The highlights are detailed below, and if you need a McLaughlin Group primer, here's a reasonable first exposure or an annoyingly fond reminder of the show. (Thanks YouTube.)

Order Up! McLaughlin Style

The gist of the litigation boils down to one of McLaughlin's ex-wives trying to get a piece of his estate, which the court found she was not entitled to, likely to the chagrin of his third wife. McLaughlin's second wife, who signed a prenup, was seeking to get a piece of a couple annuities/insurance policies, which were pre-marriage, but not disclosed at the time the prenup was signed.

However, the contents and details of the order are less interesting than the fantastic language used, which clearly is a nod to McLaughlin's iconic style. See this excerpt from the opening of the actual opinion:

Question! On a scale from one to ten-with one being the chance of a Washington, D.C. professional sports team winning a championship this year and ten being absolute metaphysical certainty-how certain is the Court that Mr. McLaughlin, upon his divorce from his former wife Christina Vidal, intended for her to benefit from two life insurance annuities that he brought to the marriage? Any answer shy of nine would be . . . Wrong! Mr. McLaughlin did not wish his ex-wife to receive the annuity benefits. His estate is therefore the proper beneficiary and is entitled to a declaratory judgment saying so.

In addition to the interesting quips throughout, the section headings in the analysis section of the opinion are also in the McLaughlin style:

  • Issue number one: Subject matter jurisdiction! Do the facts alleged establish it? Yes!
  • Next issue! Does this Court have personal jurisdiction over Ms. Vidal, a citizen of Connecticut? Certainly!
  • Issue number three: The merits! Do the facts alleged show that Mr. McLaughlin's estate, rather than Ms. Vidal, is the beneficiary of the annuities? Clearly (but not necessarily for the reason first offered by Plaintiff).

And before the ordered relief, the opinion sprinkles in one of McLaughlin's sign-offs: "Therefore, until the next episode ... It is ORDERED that ..." Tragically, the only thing missing after the "So Ordered" at the very end was world-famous McLaughlin "Bye-Bye!"

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