Pretending to cry on the witness stand: $42,000
Offering to settle for minuscule amounts “to avoid embarrassing Jim in front of his family”: $19,000
Attempting to make profit on a newsletter after years of failure and studies saying it can’t be done: $100,000
Watching you lose this case in front of your employees: PRICELESS
The Players for the Plaintiff’s: Jim and Ana D, their children Mark and David (and Lisa in spirit), cousin Dom, the Attorney Brian, and of course me.
The Players for the Defense: John and Ann S, their daughter Brynna, employees for the firm Lee, Monica and Kim, the Attorney’s and Paralegal.
The Players for the Court: the Judge, the Clerk and assistants, the brilliant Jury.
Supportive Cast: Regina, Carol, Sylvia, Vera, Kate, Gary, Rankine, and a lot of prayerful folks that never gave up hope and kept the prayers coming.
And, as usual, the star of the show, the big G himself: God
Brief History of the progression of the Case: John hoped to find a way to make his newsletter profitable and thought the best way was to fire Jim and not pay him money for work performed. That’s a biased point of view, and this review will be very biased as I was there and I can’t report objectively. OK, really I can, but that’s not any fun.
Day one was pretty boring, we waited around for a judge and courtroom most of the day. Around 3:30 we were rewarded with both and then a jury was selected. The Judge I found to be very nice and professional. Shortly after the jury was picked I was told to leave as I was one of two potential witnesses on the list. I had been subpoenaed by the Defense.
The rest of my observations (outside of my own testimony) occur from what I saw before or after each day and what I observed through the windows of the court doors or on the faces of jurors or participants of the case.
I sent brief updates to D family members on day one and one of the recipients asked for more information on what everyone was wearing so I happily obliged on Day 2:
“Jim, Ana, David, Mark, Dom (Jim’s cousin), Brian (the attorney) and I are here and looking sharp. Jim, Brian and I are in black suits with soft colors accented by striking ties. Ana Maria is looking lovely in her stylish ensemble and black throw.
John, Ann, and lawyers are here as well. They all look grumpy to me. John is wearing a grayish suit and his lawyers are also in black suits with dull colored shirts. Ann is wearing a black sweater over an embroidered shirt and slacks.
Members of the jury are in the waiting room with all of us.”
“His lawyers can best be described as the frumpy one with bed head and the escaped circus act guy with the shaved head. At least our guy is handsome and has good hair.”
I watched Jim being questioned by his attorney and then later by the opposing counsel and all I could tell about anything was that Jim remained calm through what I could see. His testimony was I think over 2 hours.
Later, I was called by Brian the attorney for Jim and was asked several questions. I was very nervous, which is silly as I had prayed a lot and only told the truth, but I was shaking up there. On the redirect John’s attorney asked me about my resentment towards John and I said that it was still there and I was still praying about it, both of which are true.
After my testimony the Plaintiff’s side rested and lunch was called.
Kim was called for the Defense and wasn’t up there very long… it was the end of day two the Plaintiff’s side appeared very upbeat and the Defendants were all rather down trodden looking… some (maybe even me) were pretty sure we had won outright, but I knew there was still the next day for court.
“Jim and Brian are once again in darksuits with pleasant ties. I realized this was the last business day before labor day and am wearing off white slacks and shirt with a purple patterned tie. Ana looks simply stunning and has repeated the black throw look from yesterday – she has enough style to pull it off.
John’s attorneys, the frumpy one with bedhead and the escaped circus freak with the shaved head, are in dark suits but common ties. John appears to be wearing the same drab gray suit he wore yesterday. Ann and Brynna are both wearing pleasant outfits.
Spectators that are here today include Lee, John’s wife and daughter, Jim’s wife and son David.”
Today’s testimony started around 9:00 and I had my Ipod with me, the day before I had tried to read from my Kindle but couldn’t concentrate, so I put an AA speaker pod cast on and relaxed the hours away. Today was John’s turn on the stand and he was up there a long time just like Jim. There was at least one break during his testimony and he came out looking all smug so I glared at him as best I could… Jim’s lawyer finally got to redirect and they were up there even longer… then before I knew it it was lunch and they were coming out. Ana came out first and she didn’t look happy at all.
John came out and looked at me and said with his evil smile: “It’s over.” He and Ana were near the restrooms and he told her “I’m sorry that you had to be embarrassed that way Ana..” or something and she had a not too lady like retort… you go girl! At lunch the attorneys had administrative duties with the Judge about jury instructions and I heard from our side some doubts about how we did today. I continued to tell folks that it wasn’t over until the fat lady sang and we had to wait for the jury to return a verdict. We all said our prayers tried to turn it over to God.
We returned to the court, the Judge instructed the jury on law, the verdict rules and evidence. Then Brian gave his closing statement and I heard all kinds of things that I knew and agreed with of course I’m on his side.
Then the Defense guy went up there and I heard him tell outright lies and fabrications about Jim and our company and it was a very difficult thing to sit through. I am almost glad that I didn’t have to sit through the actual trial it would have been hard to listen to this slander all day. I don’t know how Jim’s family managed to not burst out in anger at some of it.
A law in Maryland gives our side a chance at a last rebuttal at the Defenses closing arguments and he did.
The jury was excused around 3:20 and we waited. At 4:52 we were informed that the jury had a verdict and we all filed into the court.
They found for Jim and it was just a huge relief and I’m glad that this part of the battle is over. Now there will likely be some legal wrangling from John’s side, but I’m hopeful the ruling will stand based on rulings of the Judge and the verdict of the jury.
I was in the middle of this particular dispute during it and it was hell then, these three days of trial were also very unpleasant… but the verdict, victory and vindication make it all worth while.
All told: $206,670 plus the right to argue attorneys fees (that’ll be in a motion later). If the argument is won on attorney’s fees it will apply to any and all appeals that are won by Jim’s side.
some math below
Originally owed to Jim, $161,200
Jury states he now owes $206,670
that’s $45,470 more
Plus his own attorney fees, possibly Jim’s attorney fees, lets assume approximately $300,000
his staff sitting in court all day not doing billable work? well I’m not sure how much that also costs him.
He should have just paid the amounts owed from the get go but he got very greedy.