Friday, March 25, 2011

TNJ.......... My Expansion of Discovery...........

Part One

The interesting dynamic about the legal system is the discovery process. You just don't get to bring something to court without the other side getting to see it first. Clearly how discovery is done can make or break a case. Looking at my evidence along with BG and WF's propensity for manipulation, it was obvious I needed to make sure that discovery worked for me and not against me.

The local court rules have a set time limit set up for that process that is determined by the starting date of the case. Up until now I had spent much of my time working my own evidence but I had not initiated any formal discovery requests. The clock had been ticking and now time was running out.

The judge had instructed opposing counsel to keep things moving in the process but she had not initiated anything either. I think she was waiting and probably hoping that I would miss deadlines and therefore default because I was unable to use my evidence because it had not been submitted within the court guidelines. She had, however, included exhibits for the court so those would have been admissible. Obviously, by themselves and undisputed by any evidence from me, my case would be lost.

I had been very protective of my information up until this time. I had not wanted BG or WF to find out what I had or what I planned to do with that information because I didn't want them to have the time to manufacture evidence to counter my claims. It was important I find a way to make my discovery requests provide the evidence I needed without tipping my hand. Knowing their attorney knew nothing about horses helped but I still needed to be careful.

There were a couple of things that I saw as problems areas with my case. One was witnesses for them since there were rarely any witnesses present when we worked and I believed there were some members of their barn who would lie for them. The other was the actual numbers of horses worked and the days worked. It would take locking them into some more specific information to be able to show the court the issues with their claims. With their paperwork set up as vague as it was, it left way too much wiggle room. That wiggle room was the enemy and discovery needed to eliminate it.

It was also important I be able to show the court other elements outside this case that indicated the nature of the character of these two people. I believed a good step in that direction was to pursue the information that BG and WF were operating both their boarding business and their dog breeding business without the required licenses. That information suggested knowing their specific business practices would be helpful in disclosing more anomalies that would show they had a history of suspect business practices.

Because they had opened the door to both of those business by supplying the court with documents from each, I had the right to pursue any related information so I asked for ALL business records for both businesses.

The request for documents specifically stated, but was not limited to, business licenses, income tax records, phone records, cell phone records, text message and emails, that had anything to do with either business or our contract and dispute. Also requested but not limited to were any logs, journals or records relating to training. I also requested membership information for BG, WF and their facility for the Professional Horsemen's Association, the Unites States Equestrian Federation and the Arabian Horse Association.

What I was most interested in were their tax records because I suspected if they hadn't bothered to register with the state as required by law, they probably weren't paying their taxes on that income either. Being able to show the court my tax records which even reflected the amount of training that had been traded for Storm would be an eye opener compared to someone evading paying taxes at all.

I was also very interested in their practice of getting some things in writing and doing other things in an oral fashion. Getting to look at their business records could show a pattern that would be helpful.

In the form of Verified Interrogatories I asked for an exact accounting of the work done with the horses. I asked for the dates each horse was worked, the name of the specific horse , how long the horse was worked, what was done with each horse and the location where each horse was worked on any given day.

If I could get this specific information, I would be able to dispute it's validity with the evidence that showed horses had not been worked on some of those days and that on some work days all of the horses claimed had not actually been worked. A specific statement by BG naming a horse worked on a particular day countered by vet receipts that supported the horse could not have been worked would be important to show these were not simple accounting errors but deliberate attempts to pad the bill.

I intended to use Verified Admissions as a means to gather specific information to support what I knew would be helpful to my case. According to the way I understood this tool, I was to make a statement and it was up to them to deny it or to agree with it. If they didn't do either they must explain in detail and, I believe, with documentation to prove why they could not answer yes or no.

When I researched admissions what I found suggested making the admissions too complex would allow the people answering them to have excuses not to answer or to avoid dealing with important details. To avoid this pitfall, I created simple one sentence statements.

The purpose of the admissions I devised was to get them to verify truths that were important to the case. By utlilizing the method that each admission was a simple statement, I hoped to get them to confirm information that did not look threatening by itself but put together in terms of the bigger picture would show that BG and WF knew full well what they were doing.

I planned to use these items to force BG and WF to be specific. If they denied them, I pretty much had proof to the contrary on most things. If they approved them, I had a specific statement about where they stood that couldn't be changed later. Either way BG and WF would decrease the amount of the wiggle room they had created with their generic accounting. That would make it easier to catch them in their lies.

I am going to post about the specific areas I concentrated on in my admissions. I hope by doing this you will have an idea of what I was trying to accomplish with this form of discovery.

For example, I began with the terms of the contract.

My very first admission read 1. According to the terms of the oral agreement, the purchase price of the Arabian horse, Scandalous Storm (hereinafter Storm), was $30,000.

From there I continued on through each component of the terms making each admission contain only one component. I wanted to make sure everything that was spelled out in our agreement was covered including the terms to show Storm, the terms on the boxer puppy, the exclusions of Legs and Dandy and board. Any specific information that might relate to that term, I used subsequent admissions to define it or clarify what I wanted them to take some form of stance on.

By way of example see 8 According to the terms of the oral agreement, Storm was to be shown at the US Nationals in Tulsa, OK in 2009. 9. To be eligible to show at the US Nationals Show in Tulsa, the horse, Storm, was to have been shown in the necessary qualifying shows.

Then I used this item to clarify their position. 10. Storm was not shown in 2009 because the Defendants did not believe the horse was ready to be shown.

While that may not look important, the term of the contract had no provision for the horse not to be ready. They were in fact in breach of contract on this element alone.

Because of the complexity of these issues I will go through the major situations I was trying to address in these documents and give you some idea of how I went about getting that done. Hoipefully in going through that process you either will see or be able to imagine the traps that I laid for BG and WF. I know this will be going over some details again but as I have said all along, the devil is in the details and these admissions were going to make those detail matter.

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

Using Admissions to Tighten the Noose.......

This is one of my favorite pictures of the twins. They were laying there like puzzle pieces of puppy piles wrapped up together. How often do you get to see horses laying together like this?

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  1. Too cute!
    I think it was a wonderful idea to request all that information on both businesses. As you said the fact they were not legally licensed, or paying taxes was a woeful way to show how they play with the truth.
    On a side note, it boggles my mind that anyone would have a horse business and not have it legalized. I imagine that they open themselves up to other legal problems with liability and insurance issues.

  2. You requesting any paperwork in regards to the case makes me wonder how they would justify not including derogatory items as well. Because I'm sure there were texts and emails about the case to people of a mind set similar to theirs. Case in point the threatening remark you got from oh what's her name the one who left Vee in sewage. Can't imagine she wasn't notified by BG or WF directly. I'm sure that they told many people many different versions of their own story.

  3. What a cute picture of the twins, intertwined like that. Adorable.

    Sounds to me like all your hard work will pay off. You've laid a pretty detailed trap for them to get themselves out of. Good for you.

  4. Wow ! thw fact that his lawyer was not a horse person and the "assumption" that you would miss deadlines without legal counsel,I bet your attention to detail,and all of your evidence went a fair ways to taking the wind out of thier sails!

  5. Nicole, I didn't know for sure they weren't paying taxes. I just suspected it. That's one of the reasons I wanted their tax records so I could find out for sure.

    You're so right about the liabiltiy and insurance but then as protected as they have their assests, I guess they weren't worried about that.

    I did hope there would be negative emails. That would help prove damages to my business.

    Arlene, I feel fortunate I could talke to the paralegal in my backyard. She saved my b*tt by telling me I had to provide all my stuff whether they asked for it or not. And she looked over all my paperwork before I took it too court from the point they moved in forward.

    fern, I don't know for sure that was her strategy but time was running out and she hadn't started anything either. I can only assume she thought all she needed was those documents. I had provided no exhibits to the court at that time. What she didn't know was I was preparing all my paperwork so I would have made that deadline, no problem.

    The strategy books really helped me see I should do extra looking as well. They helped shape the direction I took.

    You know what they did was so insulting, it really kept me motivated. They have no idea they are their own worst enemies. They sure were in this case.

  6. If I were BG and WF at this point, I'd be more afraid of you than any paid lawyer. You really got it together.

  7. That is a sweet picture of the twins.

    It's amazing how many aspects of this you were able to plan ahead for so that the case didn't hinge on just one or two things. Every time I hear of a big revelation, I think that alone could turn the case, but apparently you had lots of those types of revelations by the time this went to court.

  8. I bet you really caught their attorney off guard and part of me wishes I were there to see the look on her face. Smart thinking!!!