Thursday, March 3, 2011

The New Journey.............. Plaintiffs Reply......

Part One

With the information I'd garnered at the law library I confirmed the first thing on my agenda after the replevin hearing was to reply to BG and WF's counter claim. There were issues there that needed to be addressed. It was imperative that I go through the paperwork filed against me and answer any claims I didn't agree with.

If I didn't dispute them now, they woud be considered to be accurate for later whether they were or not. I would lose all recourse for challenging anything I'd overlooked or perceived incorrectly and I had twenty days from the date those papers were filed to get that done.

Considering the timing in the initial letter demanding I relinquish the horse's papers and this counterclaim, I was pretty sure there was a "method" to their timing designed to make things more difficult for me. By sending the counterclaim right before I went to court I had little time to be prepared with a response in court or any of that additional paperwork. That timing also pretty much guaranteed I'd be preoccupied and loose part of the time allowed by the court to reply to the pleadings of the counterclaim.

Between the time spent in the mail and then getting ready for court etc, one third of my twenty days was already gone. Had I not spent all of those earlier months going over this case so I could understand it's elements, I'd have been in a hard place to get this done in time. As it was, other than procedure, I knew what the issues probably would be. I just had to study their sworn statements to figure out how to reply.

Thankfully, for this purpose anyway, their version of what happened was not loaded down with detail in any of this paperwork. That made responding much easier. I could make my responses as general as theirs and leave myself more time to use the details I had to state my case. Even with their generalities, I already had enough experience with legalese I knew I needed to cover my bases should I miss something. I started off with a statement containing these very important words, "except as hereinafter expressly admitted, qualified or otherwise answered, plaintiffs deny each and every allegation in the defendants' counterclaim."

That little bit of legalese would protect us from anything I might miss as I responded to their charges. Should I realize later I had overlooked something, I would still be able to present evidence to support my broad denial at a later date. In all of my work through this process, I learned such qualifications are probably a very important part of the process.

Certainly with all the information I had to go through, I knew the possibility I would overlook something because I didn't understand how it fit into big picture of their lies was huge. To be honest, I am still finding new pieces of the puzzle after the whole thing has been resolved. There were that many inconsistencies in their version of things. Once I had made that broad statement, then I had to get into the particulars for my reply.

To do a proper reply, the portion of a pleading you are disputing needs to be specifically name. "In response to paragraph 3.4, a contract was for board and training" By stating the paragraph and line, there is no question what I am referring to.

In this case I was responding to the fact the agreement for board and training for Reflection was entered into before our contract and thus had no bearing on our contract except as to the issue of training. This was important because there were issues about board in their statements and also issues about charges for Reflection's training. By including this in their counterclaim there were pretty much saying it was part of our contract, which it absolutely was not. It was a separate agreement entered into before our contract.

(NOTE: Their attorney had used the term contract for the boarding agreement. It should have read agreement and not contract which I should have caught at that time I made my reply. Each means very different things to the courts. The words are NOT interchangeable to the court and what I had signed was a boarding agreement, not a contract).

My next issue to dispute was what they had stated were the terms of the contract. To do so I tried to restate the exact terms of our contract which was the price of the horse, $300 a month for training each horse based on a five day work week, up to 5 horses and the boxer puppy. As it was I left the puppy out of this part but addressed it elsewhere. Still for consistency sake it should have been included here. I did remember to reiterate that there were no provisions in our contract for board or other services. The horse was to be paid for solely with the training provided for my young horses.

That fact is important if you look at BG's accounting sheet you will see he has included other things. because they were trying to add on trumped up charges for things to bring their totals up, just as BG had tried to do in that last email. Since there were no provisions for anything but training, those charges had no validity. There was no requirement for me to pay them even if they had in fact been legitimate charges which they were not.

While I didn't get into legitimacy here, it would be an issue I would address later. The important thing at this point was to dispute their statement that those things had been included in our contract because later I could prove that BG and WF not only were lying about the charges but they were lying about the terms of the contract. The more items I could disprove with supporting evidence, the more their credibility would be affected and the better off I was.

Then as to the issue of the registration papers, their sworn statement says I personally gave those papers to both BG and WF when in fact I had handed the papers to BG. WF was gone when it happened. I presume she was at work. Had she been there I would have had no reason to leave the papers with BG. I could have gotten the appropriate signature and kept the papers in my possession for return to the registry for transfer and had those papers returned directly to me as planned.

It was clear to see they were setting me up with WF and BG corroborating something that had not happened. I needed to be aware this would probably be a recurring event throughout their defense of their counterclaim. It was going to be necessary to not only dispute but back up with evidence as many of their lies as possible so the court could see enough to question their credibility.

Their court documents also stated that I told them at the time I wanted them to have the horse which is absolutely not the truth. Not only did I not tell them that, I didn't say anything except that I needed WF's signature on the papers. There was no other conversation at that time.

The next fact I disputed was the information they'd included about the boxer puppy. According to them I entered into a contract with them about that puppy in August when the contract about the puppy was really part of the contract on the horse. The paperwork I signed in August was when I took possession of that puppy. While it might seem like nit picking here, these details were an important part of the perspective on this case. I wanted it on the record correctly because the timing on this had a direct bearing on other statements made by BG. Again since contradictions in his statements are an important part of proving the man cannot be trusted and destroying his credibility, which in actually he destroyed himself with his attempts to justify his behavior.

The next issue I disputed was the total of the work that BG and WF claimed to have done. It was here that I blasted them saying these totals were not only fraudulent but based on unfair business practices as well. I even got wise and included the exact statutes of Washington state they were violating.

After that I had to deny that they had amicably tried to resolve the dispute. There was nothing amicable about presenting me with an accounting sheet made up of fraudulent accounting and bogus charges displaying their unfair business practices. I stated they were asked several times to produce reasonable figures instead they had their attorney send a threatening letter. That sure doesn't constitute amicable to me. Once again, challenging such things portrays the manipulations of the truth that both BG and WF engaged in throughout this situation and pretty much throughout their lives as I can tell.

I denied we were in breach of contract because that was obvious. We had in fact turned possession of the horse over to them months before in good faith that they would provide the training and the boxer puppy required to satisfy the contract. We were not required to provide the papers until they had satisfied their portion of the contract and since that had not been done there was no breach on our part. I stated actual figures of approximately $8,500 worth of training and $1500 for the boxer puppy leaving them owing a balance of $20,000. How I came up with my figure will be explained in another post.

Because their attorney had charged unjust enrichment in the event the horse was returned to me, I addressed that issue as well. Considering the circumstances, if BG and WF were given the duplicate papers without fulfilling the terms of our contract, they were the ones being unjustly enriched according to the laws of this state.

Once I had those things all addressed, I requested relief for damages caused both to us personally and to our business because of their fraud and unfair business practices. Both fraud and unfair business practices allow for triple damages in this state so I requested those as well. Then I filed these papers with the court before the deadline for this step was up.

To be continued.................

Determining the Training........

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  1. What a mess! Hurray for you though. I know for me even with my attorney I didn't understand all the legalise in my case. I am very impressed in what you were able to do, and I can't wait to hear more. Keep up the good work.

  2. You really missed your calling in life. You should be a lawyer! I'm serious. The fact that you could do all this, as a layman, is astounding.

  3. Nicole, I'll agree with you about it being a mess. I really set myself up when I trusted this guy.

    Linda, I don't know. I don't think I'd have been happy as an attorney but I am a detail person and that really helped with this. It also helps with raising and training horses which is a much better use of my skills and more in line with my calling. LOL

  4. Exhausting just reading and comprejhending it! I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live it

  5. These posts are well thought out and follow a linear path; your legal understanding and how you went about defending your case makes for a good educational read! Thank you for doing this!

  6. fern, it was exhausting to write. Living it felt moore like being consumed by it. It was a difficult time.

    feralwoman, thanks, it's good to know its understandable and useful.

  7. Geez - this thing is way better than a soap opera. I gotta agree with Nicole up there though, and say Whatta Mess!! ;o)

  8. I don't know if I would have had the patience you had wading through all the legal terms and conditions. Then again if one of my horses was at stake I guess I would do it. I hope this case got resolved soon after all these filings. The court had to see through their inconsistencies and dishonesty. What a couple of cons these two are.

  9. I am so impressed that you did all this research and acted as your own attorney. I know who to call if I ever find myself needing legal advice!

  10. Jen, you're definitely right about that. Every time I think about this mess, I find my head still shaking in disbelief that I got myself in this thing.

    Arlene, I know the motivation for me was getting my horse out of there. It's surprising the strength we can muster when they are at risk.

    As for the courts, I doubt the judge was even reading any of this stuff at this point, if they really read it at all. Even if he had, there was that procedure to follow. According to the procedure the judge could only make rulings at this point about the procedure. The final outcome could only be decided at trial unless we reached a settlement before that time.

    Leah, thanks for the vote of confidence. I did learn a lot doing this but there is so much more I should have known. I have, however, already been called upon by friends for input in legal situations. I will always help if I can. I can tell you after this fiasco, I plan to have all my horse documents redone by an equine attorney in the future. Hopefully with good solid documents situations like this could be avoided.

  11. Wow, sure do have t be organized, I like the general statement, knowing if you accidentally miss an error of thiers you are covered. i never knew you had to be so perfect in every tiny little wording, amazing you had it all organized.

  12. I've always heard that you should get contracts in writing, even (especially!) with relatives or friends. Did you say in an earlier post that having it in writing wouldn't have made a difference?
    BG and WF had no right to Storm's registration papers until the agreement was fulfilled. It's really too bad they got their hands on them in the first place. I'm so glad you were able to have that first set voided because I'm sure it would have been even harder to have him turned back over to you had they been able to show proof of ownership.

  13. I have to admit that I have missed a lot in the middle here, but it really sounds like a bunch of stuff that happens a lot in the horse industry. Sucks, but true.

    Sure sounds like you had your ducks in a row and in reading it all, hopefully things turn out for the best on your part.

    As you said, having things in writing is always a good way to back yourself up. Even if things are on the up and up, having it in writing helps keep everyone on the same page, speaking the same language.

  14. Crystal, with the research I have done, I would say it is very important you be accurate in any case because I has seen cases where a party thought they had said what they wanted but really had not and it affected the outcome.

    I also thought that BG and WF's attorney was not very thorough. Had she been she would have seen discrepencies in their story. What she would have done with that information I don't really know but I suspect she would have done what she could to not expose her clients.

    The example of an agreement versus a contract. It is my understanding had we had a verbal agreement, and not a contract, there would have been no recourse in court because WA does not have laws recognizing verbal agreements.

    Mr Martyr, I did say that had our contract been written it would not have protected me in this case. There are a couple of issues where I would have been protected but overall, they still would have been able to lie about what work was done. That lying about what they did is why there was a case. The small amounts represented by the other things they added in that were not a part of the contract(which would have have been exposed if the contract was written) do not add up to the amount to pay for the horse. They are actually the overkill that really helped expose their greed and fabrication of charges.

    Even with a written contract, they would still have been able to claim they had done more work than they actually did, which is the main portion of the deceit in this case. The man was not even close to doing the amount of work he said. Even charging me for horses I had worked, didn't bring the totals up where they needed to be so he added in many many days he did no work at all to create the desired totals. Our contract as it was in writing would not have protected me from that.

    It would have taken a whole lot more specifically worded contract than I knew to do. Now, it might be different because of what I have learned.