Meanwhile we received a letter from Mr. Douglass that he was attending a trial; and another lawyer, a Mr. Smith, would be on our file. Few days later we received a letter from Mr. Smith in which he had asked us to contact him if it were needed. Definitely, we had to pay for these letters and replacement that had nothing to do with our case. And therefore, we did not contact Mr. Smith at all.
On September 22, 2000 Mr. Smith left three messages with the same content on my answering machine within almost two hours. He had asked my wife to contact him as soon as possible. Later that evening, my wife told me he had called her twice on her cellular-phone as well. She was unable to talk to him as she was at the bank.
In the evening of the same day we received a package delivered by courier containing some documents from Mr. Scot. Mr. Smith had received the documents on September 20 and was sending them to us after two days in the most expensive fashion. If I had added five calls each costing five minutes, it would become twenty-five minutes plus the time that he taken to talk to my wife plus the letter he had enclosed. What was the need for such a rush? In what way could we spend so lavishly for a case that was not before the judge yet?
In his letter, Mr. Scot had claimed he had enclosed an accounting supported by “all source documentation” related to the operation of the business and concluded that the business had been operating at loss and the other party had enclosed her income-tax declaration to support her claim. This time Mr. Scot had taken the dissolution of the business one month aback to February 2000. Here was a copy of cancellation dating March 14, 2000. The final threat was that if we continued with the court application, Mr. Scot would rely on his letter to ask for the cost of the court for his client.
The whole accounting was one page hand-written numbers. It did not clearly show whether those numbers were expenses, incomes, damages, losses etc. The most interesting part of the argument was that, according to the same documents, the business had close to twenty thousand dollars of activity and at the same time there was no receipt in the package to show it had purchased one single penny of merchandise. Receipts were not source documentations?
We had to redefine the word “all”. “All” would be what Mr. Scot claimed and not what in reality were. Were we entitled to receiving more documents or not? Was my wife not entitled to having a copy of those documents? Was there any clause or article, in the same law that Mr. Scot had studied, prohibiting an equal partner from a copy of all documents of the same business?
Since they could refer to anything provided, as a matter of argument, “all source documentation related to…” it was useless to go to court; and therefore we decided to put the application on hold. They could do the same thing in the future. Was there anything to prevent them from claiming anything they would provide to be everything existed in order to drag on the case?
At around three o’clock in the afternoon of September 25, 2000 Mr. Smith called my wife. He was speaking about his meeting with Mr. Scot in the court “by accident”. He said Mr. Scot had informed him that my wife’s ex-partner was “broke”. In other words, it was useless to go to court because she had nothing to pay my wife. My wife told him that from the very beginning she had told Mr. Douglass she always used to say she did not have money.
“Why did Mr. Douglass tell me he was going to put my entitlement on her house then?” she asked.
My wife was angry to tears and could not continue. I continued the rest of the conversation. Mr. Smith told me if we went to the court to put my wife’s entitlements on her ex-partner’s house, she would declare separation from her husband and still we would get nowhere. So, the second pillar that Mr. Douglass had put the weight of the case on collapsed beyond repair. Then, Mr. Smith tried to tell us to ask for the assets of the business because my wife was still doing the same thing. He continued that he would write a letter to Mr. Scot and would ask for more documentation of the business activities.
A half-page-letter was faxed to us on September 25. In the letter Mr. Smith had asked Mr. Scot to provide us with an explanation of all banking activities and the receipts of the purchases. This letter I read few times and found that these two lawyers had come to an agreement to continue the correspondence among themselves and send us the bills. In the letter Mr. Scot was to “recommend” to his client to provide us with further documentation and at the same time Mr. Smith was spending more than half an hour of our time and money to persuade us that the other party had not made money. Based upon what information Mr. Smith was trying to dissuade us from asking for money?
The documents and the accounting records that Mr. Scot had sent to us, according to Mr. Smith himself, were insufficient to lead to such a conclusion. Were there other documents to convince Mr. Smith that the other party had made no money? Why were we to be kept unaware of those documents? If the other party had not made money, why Mr. Smith was insisting on continuing corresponding with Mr. Scot? The final conclusion was that we would not receive what my poor wife had put so much energy, time, hope, and money in.
My wife and I discussed the matter among ourselves and came to the bitter conclusion that even if we recovered something of the asset, it would be of no value because as the case was dragging on for eight months it would continue to drag on. Eventually, it would have bought time for the other party to use what had been left of the enterprise and give us what she wanted and we had to pay the legal bill that lawyers would send us. Their claim that they would recover some of our legal costs, because the other party had caused the problem, seemed an empty slogan. After all, they had said she was broke.
This reality was sickening. Both of us had noticed the fact that we were losing not only our assets but also we were ruining our health. So, we decided to tell the lawyer to close the file and inform the court that we did not want to continue the case. I could not let the situation go in a way that my family life fell in serious trouble. One full pack of cigarettes was taking its toll already. Therefore, I asked my wife to leave everything to me.
The next day I called Mr. Smith’s office at around eleven o’clock in the morning. He was absent and I spoke to a woman who apparently was his assistant and told her that we could not afford the cost of the case and asked her to tell Mr. Smith to discontinue the case. She insisted that I spoke to Mr. Smith himself. I responded that I could not afford that because I was going to be billed again for the same message that I wanted her to deliver. At the end of this three-minute-long-conversation I asked the assistant to ask Mr. Smith to send me my bill so that I arranged a payment.
The same day I received two messages from Mr. Smith asking me to call him “by any means” and he would not charge me for returning his call. I called him the next day at around nine o’clock in the morning and told him that from our point of view the case was dead because it was going to cost us more than what it would recover for us. I added that we had been through too much stress and emotional problems to be able to continue the case.
“I am making eight dollars and seventy-five cents per hour of work,” I sadly said, “How can I pay a lawyer one hundred twenty-five dollar an hour?”
Mr. Smith told me that my wife had authorized him to send his latest letter to Mr. Scot. Also, he said if we left everything at that stage, the other party would ask the court for the damages and the costs that we had incurred on her. Therefore, we had no choice but continuing the case. He said: “you have to spend this money anyway. Now that you have to spend this money, spend it with us”.
I asked him about the cost accrued as a result of the application.
“It is my fee, Mr. Douglass’ fee, and fee paid for the application that you have to pay….” Mr. Smith said.
He never mentioned that he would claim the cost on the other party because she had not responded to the demand letter several months earlier. So, what he had written in his letter that he would demand the cost was empty as in his latest letter to Mr. Scot he had mentioned not to discuss the cost.
I told him that he could continue with the case only if he could resolve the whole matter with four letters. It was put that he recovered my wife’s share of the assets and finished the case. At the end I asked him to send me the bill that I could arrange a monthly payment. He agreed to this with pleasure.
It was true that if we discontinued the case at that stage, the other party might have asked for damages. The last part that we had to spend the money and so I was recommended to spend that money with that firm was blackmailing. It conveyed that we were in such a huge trouble that we had no choice except getting nailed to a law firm that had gained nothing for us.
As I understood later, there was no need to spend this money to get out of the trouble that Mr. Smith was trying to convey. We had only asked for an accounting of the business that we were entitled to. Still, the hidden aspect of Mr. Smith’s statement was that they were not going to resolve the matter in the near future. The reason was the fact that they were profiting from dragging the whole process. This was the most difficult aspect of the whole case to succumb to. Our lawyers were becoming problems and problem-makers.