I’ve written my little raves about the power of a time line: Your time line. The power of a time line. Gathering documents for your time line. How to make your time line (and get exercise, too). Et cetera.
I’ve told you one incident (about Mrs. Valerie Scarwater and the time line I made for her), and have been really insistent that you plaintiffs keep adding to your time line, especially after your lawyer begins receiving discovery documents. Which, you are fervently hoping, hide at least one smoking gun.
I’ve mentioned how defendants’ lawyers have every reason not to organize the documents they’ll be turning over to you in any kind of chronology. That is, they have a big stake in not making it easy for you to prove your case with their documents. And similarly they will invariably fail to provide a log of these documents.
Defendants are invested in hoping that if they turn over a mess of papers without a log, you and your lawyer will not have the time, stamina or patience to read every line of every page.
Which is another reason why a time line is so critical. Because, say, you haven’t read every line of every page (unlike me), but you have noted what each page is and have dutifully—you are obeying me, aren’t you?—inserted it chronologically into your time line. Sometimes you will get a real chortle out of what you see in front of you.
Partly to point up that I don’t simply tell you how to manage your lawsuit, but I do for myself exactly what I tell you to do, let me tell you what happened to me this week.
In reviewing and pulling out documents to be entered as exhibits for the upcoming deposition of Rarus P. Griggsby, the building manager for the defendant Skush-O’Briens, I decided to re-read my very, very long (the first entry is December 21, 1985 and the last is now February 7, 2013) time line.
I had just entered a slew of newly turned-over documents that had arrived, not in chronology, in a large cardboard storage box, and hadn’t really read through the entire time line for many months. At one particular period of problems in the building, I had written a lengthy series of e-mails to Griggsby, telling him succinctly but repeatedly that my intercom buzz-in feature wasn’t working. Every time someone buzzed to get into the building, I had to run downstairs and physically open the door. Irritating.
Griggsby had never responded to me.
Yet, as I read through the time line, I saw that he had (sort of) responded. But not to me: he had sent an intercom repair professional to the building. But he didn’t tell me he was sending him. And he didn’t send him to my apartment, from which the complaint derived. No. He sent the service guy to the apartment above me. That is, the apartment lived in by Chaz Skush-O’Brien, one of the defendants in my lawsuit.
Now it’s possible that Chaz was indeed having the same problem I had. Yes. It’s possible. But whatever the professional did — and billed the coop for — my problem wasn’t taken care of. In fact, I kept writing e-mails to Griggsby, repeating that my door buzz-in wasn’t working and asking for a repair guy. And not getting any response. And not getting any response.
One of the causes of action—legal reasons for suing—specified in my lawsuit is Oppression of Minority Shareholder. That’s a grand way of stating that my complaints have been ignored, while the Skush-O’Briens have made repairs and renovations to their own apartments. And have had the co-op pay for them.
It would have been a strong point to show, via my unanswered e-mails, that I complained about the door buzzer but that it wasn’t taken care of for, as it happened, nearly a year and then only because I had the problem certified by a Housing Court inspector and it was put onto the Housing Court docket.
But how marvelous a point is it that a service professional worked on the intercom in the defendant’s apartment, not the apartment of the Oppressed Minority Shareholder. Me.
This is a real zinger. And I found it.
I’m posting this Friday night, after the Griggsby deposition. I mean, why spoil the surprise?