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Margo Staples

Margo Staples (her real name, so you could look it up) was one of my all-time favorite insurance claimants.  As an adjuster I got her not once but twice but, as you’ll see, that wasn't so unlikely.

The first time I met Margo was in January of 1982.  Our insured Walgreen’s reported that she’d gotten ill as a result of eating in their Wag's restaurant on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  Illegitimate claims of food poisoning are rare -- and legitimate ones even more so -- so they always deserve a close look, because it’s so easy to lie about it.  According to the restaurant employees I interviewed, Margo had ordered a cheeseburger and a fish sandwich, which her waitress thought was excessive considering Margo’s slight frame.

According to the tape-recorded interviews I did, before she'd even finished eating the fish dish Margo ran off to the bathroom, followed by the concerned manager.  He listened at the door and heard the sounds of vomiting.  But he also told me that when he stepped into the bathroom as she was walking out he didn’t see or smell any evidence of vomit.  Upon her return from the bathroom Margo said she was suffering from food poisoning and asked that the remainder of her meal be wrapped up, but thereafter she never remembered to take it with her.  For what it's worth, food poisoning symptoms never express themselves so quickly after ingestion.  The typical delay is measured in hours, not minutes.

Margo insisted that an ambulance be called to take her to the hospital, but before it arrived a cab pulled up and took her away.  Apparently she had also called for a cab in case the ambulance took too long.  (Note that Margo lived within a few blocks of this particular Wag’s restaurant and that she went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, also only a few blocks away.)

A few days later I met with Margo in her hotel, in the lobby, and she was, first of all, beautiful.  She was short but slim, a sort of miniature glamour model.  She knew it, too.  (When I asked her on tape what her job was she said, "Choreographer."  Later, when I followed up on this, she agreed that what she meant was that her last job was as a strip-tease dancer at a club on the South Side.)

But Margo Staples was one of those people who you just know are mentally ill.  Margo’s particular version of mental illness, whatever it was, convinced her that any lie she told would be believed.  Then at some point she somehow got it in her head that a really good way to generate money was to make bogus insurance claims, and she turned out to be really bad at it.  Prolific, but improficient.

After getting her story on tape, according to which she'd been seen at Northwestern, we began negotiating, if that's what you call it.  She wanted $5,000.  When I asked to see her medical bills she produced a report from Henrotin Hospital, which is about three miles southwest of Northwestern.  She couldn't explain the discrepancy, nor could she explain why there was no mention of a complaint of food poisoning, nor could she explain why it was dated two weeks before.  I guess she thought I wouldn't read it.

She kept talking about filing a lawsuit against Walgreen's, but at first I didn't let on that I knew about what we claims adjusters would euphemistically refer to as her "extensive claims history."  She kept inventing new lies to cover previous ones I'd caught her in, and I kept catching her again.  It was absurdly easy, of course, because Margo, in her own mind's eye, kept forgetting that I didn't always automatically believe her.  I can imagine how some people, under the right circumstances, would believe Margo, because she had a remarkable smoothness to her monologues.  Apparently, for short periods of time, Margo believed her own lies, at least for as long as she could remember them.  At the time I found it entertaining to watch her inept but engaging impromptu performance, although as I look back on it now and remember Margo, I realize that she suffered from some form of mental illness that made her think her reality was everyone else's.  I imagine the world seems like a difficult place to live in when you suffer from certain forms of mental illness.

By the time she'd reduced her demand to $500 I decided to offer her a take it or leave it, on-the-spot check for $50, although not because I thought she could prove Walgreen's was legally liable to her for even the price of the meals (which wouldn't have been covered anyway, as far as that goes), but only because if she did go ahead with one of her loopy lawsuits, we'd have to spend a lot more than $50 to crush it.

She kept pouring lie after lie onto the pile, burying herself ever deeper, and I kept offering $50.  She wouldn't budge off of $100 for the longest time, so I employed the "close-the-briefcase method."  This method involves nothing more than slowly gathering up the supplies one has strewn about, in apparent anticipation of walking away with no deal in place.  In certain circumstances, especially where you know the other person is desperate, it works well.  I casually handed her back the hospital report as she was blathering, and I busied myself by picking up the cassette recorder and dropping it into my open briefcase.  I slowly put away my pen, and then I picked up the all-important checkbook and tossed it into the briefcase, then I started to close the lid.  Margo's eyes widened, and she began looking for reasons, in her own head, why she should accept $50 when $100 was clearly her original limit.  Just after I snapped the first lock on my ugly-as-hell but extremely sturdy Samsonite, Margo came around and took my $50.  Case closed.

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A few months later my supervisor got another first report about a claimant named Margo Staples.  We had joked about her Walgreen's claim and all her lawsuits, so her name stuck in his head.  This new report was from our insured Pacific Coast Producers, and when he saw the claimant was Margo Staples he stood up in his cube, waving the form in the air, and called out across the office, “Hey, Johnny, you want another Margo Staples claim?”

You bet.  I am attracted to unusual people.

Here, according to a report I wrote, is what happened next.

March 16, 1982

CHICAGO CLAIMS MANAGER
AL LUEDER

CHICAGO CLAIMS SUPERVISOR
BILL DURCHO

RE:  MARGO STAPLES - PACIFIC COAST PRODUCERS
     P404-74960
     DATE OF ACCIDENT: UNKNOWN

HISTORY:

On January 18, 1982 Walgreens notified us of a claim being pressed by Ms. Staples, alleging food poisoning from eating in one of their restaurants.  Suspecting that she was a professional claimant, I contacted Walgreens' previous carrier and acquired a copy of the Index Bureau returns they had generated.  Seeing that her claims history was extensive, I walked over to the Daley Center and ran her name through the computer.  Finding that she had filed six pro se personal injury suits, as well as one with representation, I made copies of the complaints, now in file.

After investigating her food poisoning claim through the insured, I settled with her for $50.00 (refer to P404-74871).  Note that during the settlement negotiations I brought up the fact that I had acquired access to her other lawsuits.

THE INSTANT CLAIM:

On approximately February 20, 1982 Ms. Staples sent a Mailgram to Fisher Foods, asking for 1.7 billion dollars in damages.  Fisher Foods made our insured, Pacific Coast Producers, aware of the claim and I was assigned to investigate the situation on March 10, 1982.  I attempted to contact Ms. Staples by phone at her residence and learned that her telephone does not work.  Accordingly, I visited her in her hotel yesterday at approximately 1:00 p.m.  I was instructed by the hotel clerk to go up to her room, #1204 in the Tuscany Hotel at 1244 N. Dearborn.  I knocked on her door, and after waiting approximately one minute she opened it.  I informed her that I was the adjuster handling her claim against Pacific Coast Producers and told her that we would make no voluntary payment.  She showed me an opened can of Heritage House pears and indicated that the product's expiration date had passed.  When I said I was not interested in the expiration date, because the liability for the passing of an expiration date would lie with a party further in the chain of commerce than the manufacturer, she replied that "the judge would be interested."

I then left her hotel and thought nothing further about this claim until this morning when I learned that a Sergeant Neilsen of the Violent Crimes unit of the Chicago Police Department, at 744-8262, had called asking for me.  I called him back at 8:30 and learned that Ms. Staples had filed a charge of simple battery against me, alleging that during or just after my denial of her claim I had struck her in the face, struck her in the stomach, and spat on her.  Sergeant Neilsen did not inquire whether her allegations were true but simply indicated that he was verifying that they were not.  The police report number is D-084-385.

JOHN  - CHICAGO CLAIMS

  
[At the bottom there’s a notation in my hand dated March 19th that says, “I’ll get P/R thru RSB, per A. Lueder’s instructions. --jg.”  “P/R” means police report.  “RSB” refers to Republic Service Bureau, which, for a fee, could get documents, especially uncensored versions of documents normally available only in a censored version, from various sources that were unavailable to regular people.  Having subpoena power is one of the great perks -- and powers of persuasion -- of handling insurance claims.]

In case you disagree with my lay diagnosis of Margo Staples as being mentally ill, below are complete, verbatim transcriptions of certain lawsuits she filed in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in 1981 alone.  If you do a search you’ll find that she’s named as a party in many more.  As you'll see, Margo has confused civil torts, which is what plaintiffs file in the Law Division, with crimes, which is what a prosecutor charges in the Criminal Division, but that's just Margo.

Before you read them it’s important to note that Margo managed to file these lawsuits pro se, which means she represents herself and doesn’t have a bar-card lawyer.  I can tell you that judges look widely askance at pro se lawsuits of the nature of Margo’s.  But even more important from Margo’s position, she also managed to get these lawsuits filed as a "Pauper Plaintiff," which means she was able to convince the clerk that she was so poor she couldn’t afford the filing fee.  When you’re a really bad professional claimant, those fees make a difference.

Note to Margo Staples:

(If you are not Margo Staples, do not waste your time reading the following paragraph.)

Margo, it is only by the wildest coincidence that you have learned of this Web page.  Know that truth is an absolute defense to a charge of libel, so please don’t bother to sue me.  Also, good luck making service.

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81L 23738: Margo Staples V. YMCA of America
Charges: Breaking & Entering, Negligence, Theft

In the early morning hours of Nov 7, 1979 the room of Ms. Margo Staples was broken into by Management.  Money was stolen when the door was left unrepaired.  She spent 40 days in a mental ward because of it.

Margo Staples:

On Nov 7, 1979 someone knocked at my door.  I had a do not disturb sign on the door.  I did not answer.  They knocked again.  I still didn’t answer.

The next thing I knew they were breaking down the door.

I was in bed at the time with my head covered but I recognized Mr. Holmes (Night Manager voice along with another male.  They left with out repairing the door.

Later I found a neighbor going through my belongings 40 days were spent in North Western Memorial Hospital as a result.

Claiming damages in the amount of $1,500,000 Mental and Emotional Cruelty Also claiming damages (Punitive) in the amount of $1,500,000.

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81L 25332: Margo Staples v. Christ Wareness Center
Charge: Income tax evasion, Haressment, Theft

In May of 1980 I Margo Staples requested tax information form the above non-Profit Corp whom I’d been senting Contributions.  I was assured by the Rev. Gina Waites that the information was forth coming.  I waited, I didn’t receive it.

In Feb of1981 I again requested the information by going to the church.  I was told by the Rev. Waites that I never [illegible] get the information.  I was haressed by her and her staff.  Police were called.  I was removed bodily by police.  Money and personal property were stolen.  I spent several weeks in a Mental ward as a result.

Claiming damages in the amount of 3.6 million Dollars.  Mental & Emotional Cruelty.

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81L25177: Margo Staples V. YMCA of America
Charges: Rape

On or about October 3, 1979 Margo Staples was raped at the above hotel by a security guard who had a gun and who was hired by the above hotel to protect her.

40 days were spent in the mental ward.  Claiming damages in the amount of 1.6 Billion Dollars.  Rape, Physical Mental and Emotional Cruelty.

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81L 25433: Margo Staples v. Continental Plaza Hotel
Charges: False arrest, Invasion of Privacy, 2 Counts of assault, Discrimination, Haressment

In Aug of 1980, I Margo Staples sat in the powder room of the continental Plaza hotel with a very bad headache.

I was approached by two women.  One accused me of stealing her tee shirt.   Security was called.  I proved to them that I did not have the tee shirt.  Then for no reason at all they began to haress me.

I was taken down the back elevator to the basement where I was asked to sign a form giving the hotel permission to take my picture.  I refused.  They took the picture anyway.

The police were called.  I was beaten by police in the basement of the above hotel in front of security guards of the hotel.  I was also falsely arrested.

Claiming damages in the amount of $1.6 Billion Dollars Mental, Physical & Emotional Cruelty.

I also sustained another beating on 8-8-80 as a result of the above.

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81L 25582: Margo Staples v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Charges: Malpractice, Negligence, Several Counts of False Arrest, assault, Discrimination, Conspiracy (illegal probation)

I Margo Staples, was given an overdose of medication by the above hospital, which blinded and crippled me for several months.

I was falseley arrested several times while trying to get into the Crisses program which I qualified for.  I spent several weeks in jail as a result.

I was told by the hospital that I was put on illegal probation as a result.

Claiming damages in the amount of 1.7 Billion dollars.

Damages: Mental, Physical & Emotional Cruelty.

I was also beaten by police as a result of the above discrimination.

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Did you notice how Margo's ad damnums went from 1.6 billion dollars to 1.7?   I guess she figured that, after all she'd been through, she really deserved that extra hundred million.

Margo was an interesting character, and I treasure my memories of her and her ilk.

In contrast to Margo -- with her loopy, ill-considered allegations -- consider Ricky Taylor v. CTA.
 
 

 

  
The Projects
Mrs. Smith's leg
Free surgery
     Scalpels
     Trocar
Bad surgery
Margo Staples
     Police report
Ricky Taylor
"Listen carefully"
Honest scumbag
"It's my baby"
True story

 

The Projects
Mrs. Smith's leg
Free surgery
     Scalpels
     Trocar
Bad surgery
Margo Staples
     Police report
Ricky Taylor
"Listen carefully"
Honest scumbag
"It's my baby"
True story

 

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