Saturday, April 16, 2011

TNJ.............. A Little Expert Perspective.......

Part One

I worried all week end long. What was the right thing to do for me and my business? Would sticking by my principles hurt my long term goals? If I held out for trial would it end up any differently other than a piece of paper in my favor? Should I just let go of this thing and get on with my life? Those and many other questions whirled around in my brain as I tried to make heads or tails out of the best thing to do.

At this point in time, we were now nearing the two year mark since Dave has been without a job. There was no way to think about this settlement offer without thinking about the possibilities of Dave's unemployment benefits running out and what that would mean. If ever I wanted a crystal ball to give me a glimpse of the future, I wanted it now. I wanted to make the absolute best decision for me, my family, my business and my horses and I had no idea what that was.

Knowing exactly how my attorney felt about my case might have eased the weekend's upheaval some. Because I hadn't spoken to the man since he got all my "stuff" I had no idea what his opinions of it were. All I could do was hope he believed in it's merits as strongly as I did but I must admit my insecurities were taking a toll on me. It was one thing to believe right should prevail and another to trust that would be the case. I rode that roller coaster all weekend long.

I know you've all been wanting to know what the attorney thought of how I'd prepared my case. I imagine the best way to answer that is just to tell you what happened next. You'll have to draw your conclusions as I drew mine.

I called his office first thing Tuesday morning only to get forwarded to his assistant. I remember my stomach rolling at the thought I would be leaving a message and guessing at what to do. Once I conveyed I had a settlement offer that needed to be answered that day, she patched me right through to my attorney.

When I heard his voice, the words began tumbling from my mouth, "I'm so sorry to be calling before you've had time to finish looking over everything I sent to you, but I have received a settlement offer and it needs to be answered today." The words almost choked me as they clamored to be heard. There was no relief in getting them out.....just a dread of what all this meant.

From the other end of the line, I heard laughing. That's right, laughing followed by, "That doesn't surprise me, MiKael. YOU are a defense attorney's worst nightmare." and more laughing, " Your attention to detail is the last thing any attorney on the other side wants to see." and more laughing followed by " Let's hear about your offer."

I must admit I didn't know what to think about that laughter at first. What did it mean? My brain was so muddled with the weekend's stress it just didn't compute. It wasn't until later I'd realized he laughed because he could see WHY they'd offered to settle at this point with only those admissions in their hands. He even made reference to them and how that attorney would want to monitor each and every answer trying to prevent them from incriminating themselves.

Still struggling trying to compute his frame of mind and that laughter, I blurted out the answer to his question about the offer. I told him I had emailed the paperwork to him so he could see it first hand. It's a good thing I had sent him the paperwork. I felt like I was about as effective talking at this point as I had been in court. The stress was palpable for me.

My attorney hadn't even logged on yet for the day, let alone opened any emails so he had no idea I'd sent him anything new. While he booted up his computer to retrieve my email, we talked a little bit about my case. I don't remember the exact content of our conversation but the gist of it began to calm my fears.

At this point the lawyer was no longer talking about IF you win. I could imagine with all that information he'd probably only been able to get an overview, yet the man was now saying WHEN you win without the slightest hesitation. Evidently he'd seen enough to understand how black and white the errors in BG's accounting sheet actually were. While I guessed he didn't have a complete grasp of the content of all that material, he'd come to believe the court wouldn't be able to miss the big picture either. There was no doubt he saw my case as rock solid and absolutely winnable. Something I definitely had not gotten from him or any of the other attorneys to whom I'd spoken before now. This new perception held some comfort for me although the looming decision still churned at my gut.

He made it very clear the big issue he could see was going to be about collecting on a judgement. He expected my damages to be well into six figures (which meant we would have to transfer the case to superior court among other things) but there was the very real possibility that I would never be able to collect a dime of it.

Even though it is possible to file liens years after judgments are made, with people as deceptive as BG and WF, the chances of ever pinning their assets down would definitely be an issue. I knew this about them before he ever brought it up. Now the fact he'd come to the same conclusion only made it clearer that might very well be the case.

Once he'd opened up the email documents I'd sent, we talked about the specifics of the settlement. While I was offended at their continuing claims of innocence he brushed it aside as typical. I realized as I listened, even with a judgement against them, BG and WF would still be claiming their innocence but that didn't make it so. It was important for me to remember nothing I did was going to make them take responsibility. It's not who they are. If that's what I was seeking, I just needed to let it go.

As far as the settlement was concerned, he did not try to pressure me in any way. As I'd expected he would do whatever I wanted. Most certainly he said it might not be worth the effort if I couldn't collect a judgement but if that's what I wanted he was in. He was willing for me to push for trial as long as I knew I would be taking my chances on collecting on any damages awarded in a judgement even though he was adamant I was entitled to every dime of a large settlement with all the damage that had been done.

Listening to him talk, it was clear that the best course of action would be taking the settlement but there was that confidentiality clause I was not comfortable with. I asked him specifically if it pertained just to the settlement or if it meant the entire case. At first he answered me like I wanted to push it to cover the whole case but I assured him that is not what I wanted at all. I wanted to be able to talk about all aspects of this case. Looking it over carefully he explained it was a poorly written offer and there were no provisions for non compliance of the confidentiality clause. Even if I didn't comply there was little they could do but sue me again. Even that would be pretty futile since there were no provisions for non compliance and establishing some kind of harm under these circumstances would be pretty difficult.

While that information was good to know for future reference it really wasn't my issue with that clause. His answer to my specific issue, once he understood it, was as I expected. The way the confidentiality clause was written specifically stated the settlement. He told me if sometime in the future I wanted to write about my experience and this lawsuit, I was certainly at liberty to do so. The big question was where did I go from here?

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

The Motivating Factor in the Decision.....

This is Aana with her foal, Patriot. This is the first time I ever caught Aana in the process of foaling. Doing so definitely made her more comfortable with me being around he foal. Although when it was all said and done he was still nearly as aloof as the rest of her foals. Those genes sure do play a role in that too.

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  1. Wow what a compliment re your hard work; not only from your attorney but because of the settlement offer. You missed your calling! But your passion for righting the wrong obviously played a part in your perseverence.

  2. WHat a compliment! I can imagine as stressed as you were the laughter would be confusing , but at the end of it the fact he believed so strongly that you would win , must have been heartening !

  3. WHat a compliment! I can imagine as stressed as you were the laughter would be confusing , but at the end of it the fact he believed so strongly that you would win , must have been heartening !

  4. What a way to give a compliment. LOL.
    I can't even imagine how frustrating it must have been for you to have your attorney telling you your case was a winner but you would never see the money. I imagine that was the other sides way of winning in the end.
    I know of a local horse rescue that the founder was sued when one of his horses got loose and ruined quite a few neighbors gardens. The man was called multiple times and said that the horse was fine until the afternoon when one of his students got out off school. Despite the fact one of the calls was from the police because the street was 50 mph. When he was sued for damages he lost, but he had the rescue set up so it was responsible but had no assets,and it declared bankruptcy. And he opened a new rescue the next day.
    I really don't understand people that can do things like that on so many levels.

  5. I've always thought genetics were fascinating in what traits are pasted on. Whether physical or behavioral.

  6. I believe that the best thing you could have done is get this attorney. Without him you would have been lost in what to do next. I'm sure he was impressed with all your research and that gave him all the information you both needed to make the right decision. Sounds like they were making a hail mary pass in a last ditch effort to get you off their backs and their attorney doesn't sound too bright either.

  7. I can only imagine your relief now that this is over. Funny, in a Freudian slip, I at first misspelled "relief" as "relife." Same thing, I guess.

  8. I bet he was impressed with the detail. I have been, too. If a lawyer had had to do all that, it would have cost a fortune.

  9. It was important for me to remember nothing I did was going to make them take responsibility. It's not who they are. If that's what I was seeking, I just needed to let it go.

    I suspect, based on everything you've written, this was the hardest part of it all. And, oh, do I sympathize. Letting go and deciding that the person (or people) spreading rumors about you professionall will never admit that they're wrong is difficult. You're smart, strong and resilient, though. You have beautiful animals and you have a goal and a vision. Eventually, people will notice your success and their continued whatever.

    I'm really glad you found this attorney, though. Not only to assure you that yes, you were right and you could prove that in court, but also to help with working through would you ever collect and that even if the court found them in the wrong that they would not see it that way.

  10. Just saying "Hello! and Thank you for visiting me", and I will be back. But it's kind of weird that I just put up a story about a bunch of unrepentant lunatics.

  11. Tammy, while his laughter caught me off guard at first, it didn't take long to realize there was a warmness in it that clearly said I'd done well. I think he was tickled that as a pro se I'd built a case that probably boggled the mind of the opposing counsel. It was pretty cool to get that kind of acknowledgement from him.

    You're so right, I was definitely, and still am I guess, passionate about this and that is what kept me going through some pretty tough times.

    fern, we never really did talk specific details about the case after I sent him all that stuff and I have no idea how much time he spent looking it over since he didn't bill me but it was clear he had changed his opinion and he also had some very definite ideas about the damages that had been done because of the information I sent him. It was very reaffirming to know everything I needed for my case was already there in my paperwork and that he thought it is was so powerful the court wouldn't have room to get lost in the process. I hadn't even gotten to the point of sharing with him the visual aids I thought would be simplify things for the court.

    Nicole, it was frustrating for sure but I don't think that makes them winners in any way. Sooner or later their manipulations will catch up with them. I don't understand how people can behave like that either.

    I find the genetics of behavior and physical traits very interesting too and I get a great oportunity to study them here.

    Arlene, according to my attorney you're right about the hail mary pass and their attorney. Everyone who looked at her paperwork felt that way. I think she was young and inexperienced.

    Leah, yes, that's probably true, certainly for Storm.

    Linda, a fortune for sure. When I think of all the hours I put in. They bill them out pretty high.

    laura, definitely the hardest part knowing regardless of the outcome they're still playing the victim. I hope you're right that people will figure it out.

    I'm really glad I found him too but not for the reasons you stated. For me meeting him really help reaffirmed my faith in the law. It was not just about money to him, it was about principle. I was beginning to think that was gone from the law but with lawyers like him I have faith it's still out there.

    Allison, thanks for commenting and yes, it is an interesting coincidence.

  12. I'm glad you have this attorney! He likes you and he appreciates the work you have done!

  13. I can see why he laughed. You did a lot of work and made the other side run and hide, tail between their legs every step.

    Knowing you may not ever see a dime is kind of like a kick in the gut. Even still they never have to live up to any responsibility or accountability for what they have done. If they did, it would be a glorious thing!

  14. HAOL, I'm glad I found him too. He was a very nice man.

    CNJ, you nailed it right on the head. I think that's exactly why he laughed.

    The accountability issue is hard. They didn't get to keep the horse and I'm spilling my guts here, I guess that's as accountable as they're ever going to be. Better than nothing, I guess.