On January 25, 2012, I wrote to Dinkes & Schwitzer, telling them I wanted my entire file.
On July 27, 2012, I got my whole file. Well, I got what Dinkes & Schwitzer say is my whole file. It isn’t. How do I know? Because I took that 25 pounds of paper, six inches high, and did with it precisely what I advise all plaintiffs to do: take each piece of paper, put it into chronology and make a time line for your lawsuit.
A time line (which can also be called a fact chronology, or a log) will eventually contain every event in your lawsuit life, and every piece of paper generated by your lawsuit.
Of course I had a time line but it didn’t contain my legal case file. It was 9 pages; now that I’ve put into it the documents I received it’s 19 pages.
So how do I know I didn’t get my whole file? Partially because there are gaps in logic, no notes explaining why certain decisions were made and most particularly no communications whatsoever about the settlement. How was it reached? Who put forth an offer, and when, and what was the response? How did these lawyers negotiate a settlement without any evidence of negotiation?
Let’s call this the Virgin Settlement.
There are no internal law firm communications and none of the numerous e-mails I sent to the firm. Shouldn’t they be in my file, part of my file? Sure they should.
And I’ve seen at least one document presented as an exhibit elsewhere which was not in my file.
More and more and more I value time lines. They lay out facts and expose holes in the story. And I just learned that Dinkes & Schwitzer did not ask the defendant’s lawyers for a settlement check until July 20, 2012, although I signed a settlement agreement on November 3, 2011.
Eight months. They didn’t ask for the money for eight months. Amazing, in all the worst ways.