The smartest person I ever knew
Despite my father’s formal education ending at age 16, I believe him to be the smartest person I have ever known. To make a living, my young father drove a truck. Thereafter, he started a small business located in Newark, New Jersey installing roofing and siding on homes. Around the late 1940’s, a new product came on the market – aluminum roofing and siding. My father jumped in to include aluminum products. He changed his company’s name to Bake-A-Lum, enlarged his warehouse and soon did exceptionally well with aluminum products produced by Alcoa, now known around the world. Cliff Land, the President of Alcoa, came to visit my father. The two men spent the entire day getting to know, like and trust each other, resulting in an oral agreement. My father agreed to purchase a certain amount of the Alcoa products each year thereafter, with exclusive and sole rights to Alcoa’s aluminum roofing and siding in all of New Jersey. My father obtained a huge warehouse and both sides fulfilled their obligations. Years later, Mr. Land died. Shortly thereafter, behind my father’s back, Alcoa quietly appointed five companies in New Jersey to compete with my father. It could have put my father out of business. As the agreement was oral, Alcoa denied liability. As a young lawyer, my father asked me to file suit in a New Jersey Court against Alcoa to enforce the agreement. At trial, amazingly, my father testified as to every detail as to his agreement with Cliff Land. At conclusion, the judge ruled in favor of my father, except he awarded damages for only three years, as it was an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court with the finest lawyer. By reputation, the very best was a very short, elderly lawyer with a heavy Jewish accent, from Jersey City, named Glauberman. We met and Mr. Glauberman advised my father the odds were against him as the agreement was oral, the fee was high, and no individual Justice may approve the case be heard. My father expressed his knowledge that one member of the Supreme Court was previously the attorney for his entire business organization and, I believe, he said, “That Justice would want to hear the case.” He proved right.
Mr. Glauberman argued the case brilliantly. The verdict came in with every Justice ruling in total favor of my father. The oral agreement prevailed. My father, William Diamond, fought his case to a total win and he never backed off. For years, lawyers continually read and re-read the famous and important case of Bak-A-Lum vs. Alcoa.