When Thom D’Angelo, an insurance agent with Motosport Brokerage in Riverhead, decided to take one of his clients to small claims court in Brooklyn, he never imagined the case would appear on television.
But that’s exactly what’s about to happen, as Mr. D’Angelo, 67, traveled to Stamford, Conn., in June to appear before Judge Marilyn Milian on “The People’s Court.” His episode will air in October.
“Apparently ‘The People’s Court’ people look through [court filings] and see interesting cases,” the Riverhead resident said. “So they approached me and asked me if I wanted to be on … And I thought it would be interesting.”
Mr. D’Angelo said he went through the “whole television routine,” including beginning his day in hair and makeup.
He said the experience in real life was similar to how it appears on television. It was filmed in one take and a small synopsis of the case was given before Mr. D’Angelo was asked to share his side of the story.
Mr. D’Angelo said a young man purchased a motorcycle and decided to take out an $886 insurance policy with him, which the young man’s stepfather decided to pay for at the time. A little while later, however, the stepfather and motorcycle owner’s mother contacted Mr. D’Angelo saying they got in a fight with their son — leading to the son calling his mother a few choice expletives — and they wanted to cancel the policy, which Mr. D’Angelo said he couldn’t do because the policy wasn’t in their names.
After constant back and forth, the stepfather and mother disputed their credit card payment and Mr. D’Angelo lost the money owed on the policy. It was then that he decided to take them to small claims court, which eventually led to his being questioned in Judge Milian’s chambers.
“She’s very theatrical,” Mr. D’Angelo said of Judge Milian. “She was asking lots of questions to make it seem like she was not partial to me. Asking me ‘Why didn’t I do this?’ ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ ”
It was then time for the stepfather to tell his side, which led to him calling the motorcycle owner on the phone so Judge Milian could speak to him. During that conversation she reached her decision.
For the taping, Mr. D’Angelo wore his lucky tie, decorated with images of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and a Corgi dog. That proved a good decision, as Judge Milian ruled in his favor. A benefit for the defendant was that “The People’s Court” paid Mr. D’Angelo the money he was owed.
Overall, Mr. D’Angelo — who had seen only a few episodes of the popular show before his appearance — said it’s something he would do again.
“It was a fun experience,” he said with a laugh, noting that a benefit of appearing on the show was having his travel expenses paid.
“I would have done it for free,” he said. “Win or lose, it was an experience.”
Courtesy photo: Thom D’Angelo stands with a cardboard cutout of Marilyn Milian, the judge on “The People’s Court.”