Another day, another few thousand dollars spent

On Friday, I spent an entire day in the lavish offices of ADR Services, in Century City, mediating a mold lawsuit with my attorney, Tom Buckley, and my insurance adjuster, Bob Christian. Perhaps we are all stars in a cosmic drama, I thought as we strolled down the Avenue of the Stars at lunch time. And if we are, I mused, I hope that this little drama will turn out to be a morality play in which I will be found innocent and go home to my wife smiling instead of whining about injustice and the legal system. We slipped into a restaurant and found ourselves within a few inches of a famous movie star, Jon Voigt. But what I really want to tell you about is mediation, incase you’re ever unfortunate enough to become one of the legal profession’s hapless victims.

It’s a unique experience, which if you haven’t bargained for a new or used car is also comparable to a scene in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian.” The Christ figure, Brian, asks a merchant the cost of a gourd, and when told twenty dinars replies: “alright, I’ll take it.” At this point the merchant appears indignant, and says: “No, no, no, it’s not done like that. You have to barter.” “Oh, alright,” Brian says, “I’ll give you fifteen.” “No, no, no, not like that,” the merchant fumes. “You’ve got to start low.” “Oh, alright,” Brian stammers, in a hurry, “I’ll give you five.” “Five dinars!” the merchant chokes, “you must be out of your mind! It’s worth at least forty and so on. Mediation is a lot like that, and has absolutely nothing to do with truth and justice. Please, believe me.

There was a lot I could have said, but had been given wise counsel by my attorney, Tom, not to say a word. “We can pay to make it go away today,” he explained, or we can pay all of these very expensive attorneys and expert witness considerably more, and then risk going to trial, possibly found innocent by a jury of your peers, or maybe fall victim to prejudice, ignorance, or just plain caprice. So I sat patiently while my attorney almost imperceptibly took charge of the group, in ways too subtle to describe. Bob, the adjuster, seemed to be merely listening disinterestedly but he too was absorbing everything, for his infrequent questions convinced me that he was at least several moves ahead of the game.

Not all mediations are conducted in the same way, so I won’t bore you with the details, but we started at nine in the morning with demands that exceeded three-hundred thousand dollars, and what looked like a war between Jews and Muslims with me in the middle, and I mean that literally. I really didn’t think the case had any chance of being mediated, because the sellers and their agent are Jewish and the buyer is a Muslim, and there was apparently so much hatred between them that threats had been made and they wouldn’t even appear in the same room. Anyway, by six in the evening, the case settling for well under one-hundred thousand that was divided unequally among the defendants, myself included. Was justice served? No, well maybe. The tacit threat to my personal assets was gone, thank the Lord, and I got to go home, a reasonably free man. It was too late to have dinner with my wife, so I made myself bacon and eggs, and a nice cup of tea, and went to sleep, smiling.

Keith you’re hilarious…:smiley:

True stuff, Dale, honestly. I should write the long version: Lavish offices, high security, valet services, free coffee, candy, and soda, men and women dressed like models or movie stars, huge sums of money changing hands, and all dignifying a process that would fit perfectly in a bazaar in Bagdad. Oh, well, what can I say? My attorney and my adjuster were a joy to behold, and down-to-earth, genuinely nice people.

Let me add my voice to the chorus: Mold is Gold!

Oh I don’t doubt this is true…the way you say it puts a grin across my face.

Your way with words cracks me up Keith…:smiley:

Just another terrorist, that’s all, with another tale from the trenches…:smiley:

Ain’t that the truth, mate? Military tribunal, followed by a bullet behind the ear, and then a nice cup of tea (and maybe with a bacon sandwich on a French roll with lots of butter). Ah.

Keith, you seem to have an unfair share of legal issues…

Would you consider a different report?

(just kidding)


Hey, you think I’m not aware of this. My record is pretty good; about eighteen years of inspecting and four lawsuits–all frivolous. The last two were mold; one filed by a young couple who never had a contract with me and had never paid for my services (just got a hold of an old report) and sued me over mold issues tied to the HOA. This last one almost definitely came about as a consequence of heavy cleaning of a seventeem year old carpet in a doctor’s house. The buyer didn’t like the color, had it pulled up and bingo, MOLD, but no evidence of it when I was there, but I was sucked in along with a host of others. And don’t forget that I live in LA-la-land. Believe me, it’s a number’s game, which is why my book is selling. This weekend I made up my mind to become an expert witness. Let me tell you, I’m not ashamed to say that with all my fancy degrees my wife is far smarter than me, and I realize that I could make a mistake inspecting on any given day, but the truth is I haven’t. I’ve just been wacked by unscrupulous swine, who have no sense of moral propriety and never received a decent education.

I agree, I doubt if I would want to inspect in LA.
Are there too many lawyers there that need work and talk clients into these suits?

EXCELLENT writing Keith. Absolutely a stellar example of the literary process.

Good show. :wink:

{oh and Bruce? You were pretty funny too :wink: }


You really have to get out of the “stupid state oc California” and into a state based in some sembalance of reality.

I would argue that your worldview is biased because ou live in a state that has the most absurd, immature and weird laws in this great Nation.

Your book is good and has a great deal fo common sense and experiance in it.

You just have to remember that not all state legal systems are as completely messed up as yours is.

Keep doing what you are doing, but remember that reaility is still in existence.

We still go by the Britsh system up here, you are more then welcome to come up if you can withstand the cold.

Great talking to you when I bought the commercial program, still reading Inspect and Protect and thanks again for the lunches your company provided.

They say we (Canada) is apox 5 to 10 years years behind the trends in the USA lets hope not…in lawsuits

William, I absolutely agree. However, read New York attorney Philip K. Howard’s book The Death of Common Sense. Even decent attorneys will admit that British common law is the best.

Robert, got my PhD at the University of Alberta in Canada, where I went to sit at the feet of the great Canadian novelist Sheila Watson, who was an intellectual giant, and whose memory I cherish, and who I revere almost as a saint. Man, I miss that sweet woman.
As to the weather, I can still remember days when it was forty below, with the chill factor. Love Canada, love Canadians, but stuck in LA-la-land for a while, at least.

Could you not have avoided litigation if you had read *Inspect and Protect? :-s *Sorry couldn’t resist. :mrgreen:

I hope you two are friends…if not you are going to be…I hope

I just received Inspect and Protect in the mail today, and have not read it yet. I have nothing but respect for Keith. Just looking for some humor in a bad situation (not making light of the topic).

Greg, no worries, mate (if you’ll forgive the Aussie idiom). Thanks for ordering Inspect and Protect. If it doesn’t enlighten you, I’ll buy it back, I swear. It’s actually quite funny in places, as was my day in mediation. (We just shouldn’t call it justice, at least not in any pure sense of the word).

That is the way I understood it, it was my weird sense of humor, wait I don’t have a sense of humor, yes I do, it gets lost some times in the internet…