116: “We Expect Them to Own up to Their Mistakes”

Stella Case No. 116, Originally Published: 17 January 2007

In January 2005, Robert Clymer, 41, ran his pickup truck off the road in Las Vegas, Nevada. The truck had jumped a curb, and Clymer was found unconscious in the cab — and the truck was on fire. Firefighters pulled him out and saved his life.

A blood test found Clymer’s blood-alcohol level was 0.306 percent, more than three times the legal limit. Police investigators found several items of interest in the truck’s cab, including an empty bottle of Captain Morgan rum, and a 9mm pistol — Clymer, a Special Agent for the FBI, was involved in a “high-profile” federal investigation of a local strip club.

Before the accident, police were called to a hotel on a report of a man with a gun. The man left before police arrived, but the suspect had dropped a pistol magazine at the scene. It was later matched to Clymer’s gun.

In a plea bargain arrangement, weapons charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on misdemeanor drunk driving charges. Clymer was sentenced to a 30-day jail term — which was suspended — plus 48 hours of community service. “Public officials make mistakes,” said Clymer’s attorney, Gary Booker. “With public officials, we expect them to own up to their mistakes and correct them. That is exactly what happened in this case.”

“Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”? The FBI seal, and an immortal attorney quote.

Sounds good so far, but that’s hardly the end of it.

Clymer has filed a lawsuit in the case, and you’ll never guess who he’s suing.

In his suit, Clymer claims he stopped along the road to make a phone call, leaving his pickup running in “Park”. Then he “somehow lost consciousness” and the truck “somehow produced a heavy smoke that filled the passenger cab.” Thus, the suit claims the truck is defective, and he’s suing Chevrolet Motors, the manufacturer of his 2004 Silverado pickup, and Bill Heard Chevrolet, the dealer that sold him the truck. The product liability suit demands more than $33,000 in medical expenses plus about $11,000 in lost wages.

So much for “owning up” to his own mistakes and “correcting them”.

Clymer, who makes $102,000 per year as an FBI agent, apparently needs money: the lawsuit was filed weeks after he and his wife, who is a secretary for the FBI, filed for bankruptcy. Court papers filed in that case say the couple is more than $580,700 in debt, including nearly $122,000 on their credit cards alone.

Great: a federal officer can’t get by on a six-figure income, can’t control his drinking, can’t control his driving, and can’t control his weapons thinks he can “own up” to his mistakes by suing some deep pockets which had nothing to do with his problems. Rather than this convicted criminal heading to court to victimize innocent defendants after causing his own problems, it sounds like Clymer needs to head to an AA meeting. But as far as I can tell, the case is still pending.

Sources

  • “Product Liability: Drunk Driver Sues Truck Maker”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 14 April 2006.

Case Status

Is is distressingly often the case, searching did not find any specific conclusion to this case, but I have to believe that if he had won, it would have been news.

Clymer was #3 in the 2006 Stella Awards.

My 2022 Thoughts on the Case

You might have noticed this case occurred in Las Vegas. When I researched status, I found that “Robert L. Clymer, Special Agent, FBI (Retired)” is, first of all, retired (apparently in 2006 — huh!), and secondly is now a Private Investigator in …yep… Las Vegas. Probably a good place to find plenty of business. The company’s slogan: “When You Need to Know What Happened in Vegas”.

Still, it’s Clymer’s attorney that makes me roll my eyes today. “With public officials, we expect them to own up to their mistakes and correct them. That is exactly what happened in this case.” Really? When?

Letters

Case #114 (woman sues the U.S. Postal Service when a clerk joked about her fruitcakes) didn’t bring all that much mail, but there was one interesting one:

Hannah agent in Queensland, Australia: “I recently returned from North America and observed that, just as in Australia, there is a sense of fear and seriousness brought on by the threat (be it real or imagined) of terrorism. I applaud the postal worker for bringing some levity back into everyday life. To paraphrase Ms. Greene [the plaintiff], let’s just hope that a sense of humour doesn’t become ‘an obsolete gesture in our contemporary American culture.’”

That’s actually a paraphrase of the judge in the case, who (with that quote) erred mightily for castigating the USPS for not apologizing to Ms. Greene. They had done so.

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