Toby hung out with me at the office yesterday. I have a blanket from the dog who passed away from cancer at 15 years of age there. Especially when he was old, he liked to go to work with me. I am sure the smell is comforting, because that smell was everywhere around our house when Toby arrived.
I think the work I do lends itself to cynicism, and the biggest damage of my career has been to my idealism. I have a case in federal court today that is an example.
8 employees sued my client in a totally bullshit wage and hour class action. It was a shakedown by shady lawyers who have a bad history. Long story short, they were unable to produce their clients for depositions, and they settled for a fraction of their demand when I moved to compel the depositions. These are the same lawyers:
But we had the idea that they had lost their clients. Signatures on discovery verifications in the litigation were significantly different from signatures on employment documents signed during the employment. Farm workers are not the easiest people to keep track of, so it was plausible. When they signed the settlement, I made them provide notarized signatures.
When the signatures came back, it still did not look right. We hired a handwriting expert from Fresno State, who determined that two of the signatures on the settlement definitely did not match the the employment records. So we refused to sign the deal, and today we have to go explain to the judge. Sadly, I think I am going to get yelled at and told to do the deal.
There has been a lot of this lately. A farm labor contractor I represent got in a lot of trouble due to a car accident with multiple deaths, workers on their way to work. A foreman was transporting the workers without my client’s knowledge, and thus did not have certain registrations required under a federal law that regulates farmworker transportation. Everyone blamed my client, and it resulted in the loss of the business and personal bankruptcy.
The US DOL sued my client for penalties, and the victims went after the liability insurance. The insurance company had been fighting coverage because the DOL lawsuit accuses my client of a “willful” act. The Film was entirely unreasonable, including challenging the discharge of the civil penalties in bankruptcy court. My client not only lost her business, but is a single mother with serious health problems. Whatever fault she has, she has lost everything, and is going to still pay a large amount in penalties.
But when we finally got a settlement, DOL demanded an admission of wrongdoing, including, you guessed it, an admission to the “willful” act. We begged them to let us do a non-admission, but they needed the scalp on theit belt.
So we did something clever. We told the insurance company that if they paid the penalties, we would admit the willful act, getting them off the hook to pay the victims’ claims. They agreed. Penalties paid, insurance claims denied, claims against my client discharged in bankruptcy. But the actual victims of the accident got entirely screwed. 8 people were seriously injured or killed and left with ZERO compensation, because a government agency would not listen to us and cut a deal that forced the insurance company pay off, which was our original plan. Their agenda was more important.
See why I want to retire young?