The most obnoxious…
Prologue: This case involves a third trimester pregnant woman who was a passenger in a car. The car was t-boned by someone else. The mother was injured and the baby died.
- Has any DNA or other test been conducted to establish that X is the father of BABY? If so, Please identify the facility that performed the test, the date the test was conducted and the results of the test:
Answer: This counsel has instructed our mourning client parents not to read nor respond to your insulting, rude, and uncivil question. Unless you have any basis to attack paternity – which would involve our female client engaging in sex outside of the parties’ long standing child producing committed relationship – this question is irrelevant, and propounded for no purpose other than to act indecently in the face of a wrongful death of a baby action.
Request for Production
2. Please produce any DNA or other paternity testing referenced in the above interrogatory.
Answer: See answer and objection to interrogatory 1.
3. Please produce all documents or written materials which you claim evidence X as the father of BABY.
Answer: See answer and objection to interrogatory 1.
4. Please produce any affidavit of paternity executed with regard to BABY.
Photo: Gran puppy Millie Doodette at Noelle’s house – wishing people would just act nice.
June 1, 2016 3:31 PM
Hi Karen, I recently came across your post on “The Velvet Hammer” blog describing purported excerpts from John Henry Browne’s emails to you during communications over the lawsuit involving Tracy McNamara. I am interested in speaking with you about this when you have some free time. Please give me a call. Thanks,
Lewis Kamb, Reporter The Seattle Times
June 1, 2016 7:00 PM JHB to VH
So honored you included my in your Blog, so sad you need to promote yourself. The press big time local really wanted to know if you had trademarked your self appointed moniker !!! I gave them the full sad story about you creating your life rather than just living it. They will do a story, expect a call. Reminder you started this. Velvet “Clamor” was not a typo. Best. John.
June 1, 2016 10:01 PM VH to JHB
That blog entry was written because I decline to bear your continued threats and insults in silence.
June 2, 2016 12:21 PM JHB to VH
I hope you take this seriously. It is very sad you need to broadcast your personal angst via a blog. I suggest a journal. This blog makes you look like a fool, and was taken that way by the reporter. I am truly sorry about your Mom we only have one of those. I have a pleading I will send to your registered agent… I don’t want to be accused of extorting your firm again. In trial now. Will get pleading to (you) next week. Your blog just makes me look good, thanks John.
June 2, 2016 1:02 PM VH to JHB
You can stop writing insulting emails to me any time now.
June 2, 2016 1:08 PM JHB to VH
No problem, but if you include me in your pathetic blogs, then you start it, get it? Have a nice day. John
June 2, 2016 1:32 PM VH to JHB
You can stop writing insulting emails to me any time now.
And that is how Lewis Kamb’s article came to pass.
Further you affiant sayeth not.
Photo: The front page of Tuesday’s paper taken by Catherine Fleming
On Monday I called an attorney an A_S.
Now you may be thinking Karen Karen Karen. But I didn’t lose my temper. I stated a fact.
One day when I came home from work many years ago, the nanny smiled and said – your daughters told me that yesterday you said the S word. Cristina, Alysha and Noelle started giggling. Raised their little eyebrows. Waited for Marlenee Beenee (actual name Marlene) to scold me. Or better yet – as she had done to Alysha – wash my mouth out with soap.
Now I had been a prolific cusser as a young adult, but had stopped cold turkey way before the kids were born. I looked at Marlene, smiled and said to the girls – tell her what the S word was. They hesitated, not wanting to get into trouble for saying it, realized they had permission and yelled in chorus: Stupid! She said Stupid!!
I suppose the A_S word is not exactly a cuss word. But it was mom’s primary expletive. And one that usually ended with the modifier – hole.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I am in a case where the opposing counsel is a very well known criminal defense lawyer initials starting in J and ending in B. Middle initial H. Here are some of the things JHB has written to me over the past six months. Typos and all.
- Karen. Some whack job is sending out emails in your name.
- …who was Karen’s writing instructor James Joyce.
- …just struck by Karen”s late night STRANGE email
- …when you asked if T had “cosmetic surgery” I was going to object but thought you might be looking for a referral.
- Do you have a mirror.
- But I look so much younger than you!!!
- I will take the high road on your sophomoric comments
- I can always take advice even if condescending
- [comparing me to Margaret Thatcher] …the fact she died friendless and they took her portrait off the wall at Oxford, at her University (I went there) is also something you can relate to, sad.
- Face book is for insecure, narcissistic fools. I don’t need to attract attention, I just do.
- You may think this all good fun but twice now you have invoked my age. That will be part of the Bar complaint 🙂 maybe you should think before you write!!!
- You must be living a very sad life needing virtual friends. I just hope and pray you are better prepared for the next deposition, your last performance was embarrassing.
- Stop trying to be funny, you are not just TRY and be professional
- Get some help
- I am drafting complaint against you and your firm….
- Don’t you get it I am done with you. Please leave me alone.
- I assume by your snarky remark we will have to do this without cooperation and we will.
- I said as a “courtesy” not surprised that word escapes you.
- get a life, a real one not a virtual one, you know real, not pretend. try to earn your reputation not create one “velvet clamor” and all, it is quite sad.
And so, in honor of mom, and because it was the appropriate response to JHB’s last insulting email written three weeks after her death while I was (and am) still grieving, I wrote:
John – you are an ass.
Photos: The flowers Ann Rosato gave me in honor of my mom’s death and the cards.
A week after writing the post, JHB read the blog and sent this email:
So honored you included my (sic) in your Blog, so sad you need to promote yourself. The press big time local really wanted to know if you had trademarked your self appointed moniker!!! I gave them the full sad story about you creating your life rather than just living it. They will do a story, expect a call. Reminder you started this. Velvet “Clamor” was not a typo. Best John.
That blog entry was written because I decline to bear your continued threats and insults in silence.
Ms. A (she of the 257 objections ) is defending another deposition. This time of an electrical expert. Her stream of objections has not changed course since Mr. T’s deposition.
I challenge her on the record. This is to satisfy CR 26i should I decide to bring a motion:
K3: What’s wrong with the form? I think you’re being abusive with the objections.
A: You’re not setting a foundation, you’re just saying — you’re making conclusory statements and then asking him about it. He has nothing to say that —
K3: I mean, what the heck was wrong with that question? The foundation was page is 118, we’ve been talking about it. I don’t understand. I want your objections to slow down or stop, I don’t want them to continue. So if you want to educate me with what was wrong with that question —
A: I just did.
K3: I just heard it. It as a clear question and it was a clear answer, and you objected for no reason.
On top of that, it turns out the defense has forgotten to provide me with 8 of the 9 CD Roms of material provided by the expert. We recess. I bring a motion for “order instructing defense counsel to cease interfering in deposition with improper ‘form’ objection.”
In response, the defense charges that I have filed a frivolous motion, made for the improper purpose of harassment, and requests $2,000 in sanctions.
This ticks me off. Makes me upset. Makes me think bad things. And even makes me worry. Am I out of my mind. Don’t I know the difference between a good and bad objection. Will the court be upset that I’ve brought another deposition abuse motion. No – I need to bring this motion. If I don’t she’s going to continue to think she’s doing it right.
I go for a run.
I did not ask for sanctions when I filed this motion. Didn’t ask for anything other than an order telling the defense attorney to knock it off. I’m going to stay on high ground. Not stoop to swing back. I write the reply brief in as calm a tone as I can muster.
The Court grants my motion and also elaborates as follows:
“The court grants the motion that motions (sic she means objections) as to form are too indefinite at times to rule on and interfere with the flow of questions and answers. (The court notes that Mr. L’s materials were woefully incomplete which is a much more serious matter of delay and confusion, violating prior orders of the court). Plaintiff’s first example (“when was the first time”) is well founded. The second example, (“well you asked him”) is not well taken as abusive, because the witness didn’t know if it was volunteered or asked. But, SO WHAT!!
Save your strength for something important. “Form” objections are not helpful to parties or court and can lead to confusion or coaching. Objections such as foundation, compound, asked and answered, and vague are permissible. Defendants shall pay expenses of this re-do continuation of Mr. L’s deposition.”
Motion and Order: SKMBT_C55215082111290
Photo: Dan wore this outfit to our last attorney meeting. I want his shirt.
Someone is knocking on the door. Nala starts barking. Reach over for phone. It is 6:30 a.m. The knocking continues. Realize it isn’t knocking.
Jump out of bed. Rush to the balcony door. Throw it open. There’s a flurry of beautiful brown and orange red wings. The woodpecker flies onto the 45 year old maple tree. Looks back at me over his shoulder. And takes off.
Up until yesterday, I quite liked Woody. Had seen him hanging around the neighborhood. A Northern Flicker. Quite glorious. I was putting a few flowers in pots on the deck (since we’ve skipped winter here in Seattle). When from out of nowhere he flew up to my house and started pecking at it. I ran upstairs. Craned my neck. Spied one large hole and several smaller ones on the upper corner of the siding. How could he.
With visions of holes completely being drilled through the wall I ran downstairs. Got duct tape and aluminum foil. Ran back uipstairs. Dragged a chair onto the little balcony. Had visions of falling off backwards over the railing. Didn’t fall. Taped foil as close to the holes as I could reach. Came back inside. Googled – how to get rid of a woodpecker. Saw that putting foil up was actually a pretty decent idea.
Then this morning I awaken to him pecking again. Remember Google also said try a wind chime. Just happen to have one downstairs. Run downstairs. Run back up. Spend ten minutes untangling the strings. Alysha brought it home from Thailand. Brown bamboo and silver. With a little elephant holding onto everything from above. Hang it on the light fixture. Next to the the aluminum foil. It tinkles in the breeze. Hopefully this will do it.
Woody and I started off as friends. But he turned on me. Forever changing the nature of our relationship.
When getting to know a new insurance attorney, I extend every courtesy. Start out with the assumption that they will act professionally and respectfully. Tend to get along well with most counsel. Have developed friendships that have endured well after a case has resolved.
There’s a defense lawyer – let’s call her Ms. A. She’s newer to the practice. So far we have gotten along just fine. Ms. A does tend to be a bit strident in the tone of her writing. But I’ve shrugged that off as stemming from trying-to-prove-herself type of issues. Have decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.
We periodically chit and chat off the record. There are many times, when Ms. A shares her personal struggles with me. I never tattle or use anything against her. This is an unspoken code. We appear to be able to be friendly while still being adversarial.
This week, she files a reply brief in the case involving deposition witness Mr. T. Apparently she’s finally read my blogs on Mr. T. Not sure what took her so long. The blogs are written with the full knowledge that the defense tracks them.
There’s nothing in the blog posts that should be that surprising -unless you are interested in my wardrobe, or what I watch late at night on the treadmill. Yet she decides to use the blog to attribute petty improper motives to me. Also known in Latin as an ad hominem attack. She says:
1. Koehler “was personally motivated” to bring the motion to compel so she could create “fodder for her blog and as a means of gaining bragging rights.”
2. Koehler is on a “personal vendetta” against Mr. T
3. The blog posting was “maliciously motivated.”
4. The blog postings are “simply not appropriate”
Unfortunately duct tape, foil and a wind chime will not take care of this. I calm down long enough to send an email:
Dear A – My best friend in the whole wide world is a defense lawyer. I used to be one. I respect both sides of the bar.
That said, your passive aggressive nature of being polite in person and being personally insulting and rude on paper, can no longer be tolerated by me. You have crossed the line. For no good reason other than to try to win a motion that you already lost.
I shall not repeat the derogatory comments you shared with me privately concerning Mr. T. However, do not ever share any personal story with me again. Do not act as if I am your friend. Do not expect me to treat you with kindness and compassion in the future.
I am quite willing to be Pollyanna. Eager for people to act decently. But once they start pecking on my house, I am guided by the stern words of Dick Foreman. The senior litigator who first supervised me as a then young defense lawyer. He said: you are not here to make friends – you are here to represent your clients.
I bring a motion to strike Ms. A’s brief. And a motion to shorten time. Which the defense opposes.
The Court ultimately enters an Order pretty much confirming the prior ruling on Mr. T. At the bottom she writes:
Photo: Anti wood pecker pecking strategy.
The movie gift that just keeps giving – is the showdown between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. That moment on the witness stand when Jack defiantly declares his magnificence. Gets up to leave. And Tom says – sit back down. And Jack has to. Because he’s in court.
Mr. T, as you may recall , gave a rather similar performance in deposition last month. And then some. Because no judge was present.
I returned to my office. Waited awhile for the transcript. And during one of my afternoon runs with Nala, came up with a plan.
Mr. T is from Oregon though licensed in Washington. I decide to bring a motion to compel that is not your typical motion. Many areas of the law are quite form based. Not so with tort law. Too many variables. It’s fun that we can be creative and not complete paperwork by rote.
The motion asks the Court to put the burden on the defendant insurance company to produce Mr. T for another deposition at their expense and to require the production of his time records and any other missing file records before the lawsuit was brought. This type of motion requires that I show Mr. T’s conduct to have been evasive in the deposition. Here are three short examples :
- Q Why haven’t you done anything to prepare for today?
- LEID: Object to the form. Go ahead.
- A Because I’m a fact witness, and I don’t prepare for depositions when I’m a fact witness. You haven’t asked me to prepare for anything, and I’m not under an obligation to prepare anything.
- Q Okay. So you are just going by your memory?
- A No.
- LEID: Object to the form. Go ahead.
- A So if you ask me a question, I’ll do my best to answer it, if I recall it. If you show me a document, I’ll answer to the best of my ability about what the document is and my involvement in it.
- Q Do you intentionally not prepare when you’re called as a fact witness?
- A I don’t understand your question. I don’t know what you mean by that.
- Q Is there any mention of Mr. V and November 29 in there?
- A Okay, I just read the paragraph. The document speaks for itself. This paragraph is about Mr. R’s effort to secure a recorded statement.
- Q Why didn’t you include Mr. V’s —
- A You’re asking me to remember — You’re asking me to speculate as to why that wasn’t put in there in August of 2011. Is that your question? I have no idea.
- Q All right. And then on December 5, you wrote that Mr. S — You can read it if you want. Why don’t you read it.
- A Here’s what I would generally say: This is an exhibit; it speaks for itself. I don’t have a recollection of this. I’ve never found it effective to ask someone to discuss a document that’s an exhibit, that they’ve said is an accurate exhibit. I think it’s an incredible waste of time. And I don’t really want to sit here for three hours and have you go over documents like this, because you’re wasting time. I’m not going to elaborate on this because I cannot elaborate on it. It was four years ago. The document was produced by my office, okay.
- Q What I find to be an incredible waste of time is for me to come down here and hear that you didn’t even look at your file to prepare for your deposition. And then when I show you a document, you don’t even answer the questions because you find that to be a waste of time. So I think we’re at an impasse as to who is wasting whose time.
- LEID: Objection. Is that a question, Counsel?
- (BY MS. KOEHLER:) Did you not get your own file documents from your own counsel?
- A Go ahead and ask your next question.
- Q Were you given your file documents before today?
- LEID: Object to the form.
- A Go ahead and ask another question.
- Q That is my question.
- A I’m not going to answer that question.
- Q On what basis?
- A I’m just not going to answer it. You’re welcome to call the judge and have her require me to answer it, if you’d like.
And so, that’s exactly what I did by motion. And what the Judge Ordered.
The motion is attached here.CompelTMtn
The order is attached here. CompelTOrdr
Photo: Nala and the reason running helps with thinking things through.
One of the hazards of driving while high, is that you become a very bad driver. A year ago, Mr. H decided not to take my word for it. He smoked some pot. Went for a drive. Creamed a car. In the back of the car, right where he t-boned it, sat high school student John T. And his doggie who was instantly killed.
But this isn’t the story of Mr. H. Or of his arrest. It is the story of the other villain in this case.
To complete his circle of irresponsibility, Mr. H was uninsured. John was horribly and permanently injured. Amazingly, the insurance company for the car in which he was riding, decided to make things as right as it could. It agreed to pay all of the coverage it had on the car. What a good neighbor.
Enter Swedish Health Services. (You can start booing now).
John’s mom was a nurse at Swedish Medical Center. Every month this mom paid money for premiums for health insurance through SHS.
SHS started out by doing what it had to do. It paid his medical bills. These amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
SHS was told the car insurance company was going to compensate John for his injuries. SHS said – we want all of it. Every single last dime. Fork it over. Except 20% to be paid to the attorneys for getting it.
SHS cited the legal principle of subrogation. http://fightsubro.com/ This concept, allows health insurers – if they choose – to stick up the people they insure. So that’s what they decided to do:
“While we sympathize with Mr. T’s situation, the law requires us to administer the Plan in accordance with its terms. The Plan provides for the payment of attorneys in the amount of 20% of recovery, but does not authorize a waiver of its subrogation rights. The Plan will accept the (entire) settlement, less 20% for attorneys fees, as partial satisfaction of its lien. Please note that this acceptance is not a waiver of the ZPlan’s right to collect the remainder of its subrogation lien int he event additional funds are awarded to Mr. T in connection with this accident. Please make checks payable to First Choice Health.”
Upon receiving this letter, Anne sent me an email that said this:
“Karen: Please see letter from First Choice in response to our T subro lien reduction request. This is an ERISA lien and they are _________ (noun).”
How would you fill in that blank.
Stay tuned for part 2 in this ongoing series.
Photo by Seattle Police Department of the t-boned vehicle
5:45 am. Phone beeps. Count backward down to the minute have to get up to get out on time. 5:56 am get up.
Race through morning ritual. Clothes put out the night before. Black crop jeans. Black t-shirt. Deconstructed BCBG black and gray striped jacket. Black doc martens. 2 black bags. black raincoat. Slick back hair that used to be black and now in places looks like tinsel. Grab 2 luna bars, fat sumo orange and honey crisp apple for later.
Walk Nala to her patch of grass and back. Hop in car. Drop her at doggie day care.
Drive to airport. 3rd floor full. 5th floor full. Find a spot on the 6th floor at the far edge. Type in 6 – 55 on phone to remember spot. Magically am TSA pre-checked so hop through security line. Get couscous cup from Dish d’lish for lunch and bottle of water.
7:20 Plane is on time and we board. Eat 1 luna bar. 8:15 get off in Portland. Go to rental counters – look at phone. Booked on Budget. Drat. Hate Budget in Portland. Have to take a shuttle. Email Cristina and Anne whining about Budget. No other passengers on shuttle. No wait at rental counter. Am assigned blue car that is not excellent. Can’t figure out how to operate windshield wipers. Start driving. Apply brakes and car jerks to stop. Touchy.
Input address and following phone commands to destination of today’s deposition. Drive about 15 minutes past downtown. To a vast non-descript office park. 9:35. Have almost an hour. Decide still hungry. Type the word bakery into phone. Follow commands. Bakery turns out to be a 7-11. No thank you. Type in donut. Fairly close. Is in the JoAnn Fabric complex. Sesame Seed Donuts or something like that. Never had a sesame donut before. Don’t try one now. Get a glazed old fashioned. Hold door open for elderly man carrying his newspaper. He’s smiling in anticipation. Consider this proof of merits of eating deep fried sugar coated dough.
Get back into rental. Phone rings. Answer. It’s my bank. Need to transfer money from one checking account to the other. Thank them for great customer service. Drive back to office building. Park. Open computer. Transfer the money. Eat donut. Wipe sugar off face. Grab black bags. Exit blue bomber. Climb three flights of stairs. Open glass door. Ask for Mr. T.
10:20 Follow receptionist down long blank beige hall to windowless conference room. Say hello to court reporter. She reminds me of my favorite librarian back in the day. Spectacles. Carefully coiffed hair. Is wearing a golden colored hummingbird broach on the lapel of her brown tweed-like jacket.
10:30 Mr. T arrives along with defense counsel.
Mr. T is a lawyer. Hired by insurance companies. Rumor has it that he is quite unpleasant. Am willing to suspend judgment and give him the benefit of the doubt.
He is wearing strict lawyer garb. Looks older than his probable age. Balding, overweight and with a circle beard (goatee connected to a mustache). The soft spoken, gracious court reporter asks to take his photo (standard practice). He tells her no.
What a gem.
For the next 6 hours less a 45 minute lunch break (eat couscous and fat sumo), we stay in that room. Locked together. Unpleasantly.
His involvement on this case started four years ago. He is a fact witness. He has done nothing to prepare for the deposition. He hasn’t looked at his file. Which is about 5000 pages worth. He has for the most part – no memory independent of what is contained in his file. So he needs to see the file document in order to answer the question. When I show him the file document, then he says it doesn’t refresh his memory and that the document speaks for itself.
5:00 approaches. He says he has to go. Actually he’s been saying this for awhile now. Repeatedly leaning over to look at the clock on defense counsel’s computer. Shifting about in his chair. Asking the court reporter if she’s taping the proceeding. So he can count the minutes where I am looking through documents. Acts even more rudely. If that’s possible.
Say something to him like if you stop whining we can finish more quickly. He doesn’t like that and jumps up. Says this is over. Walks out. Defense counsel politely asks – how much longer would it take you to finish Karen. Say – gosh was almost done maybe 10 or 15 minutes at most. He leaves to talk to the witness. They return. Mr. T says – you have 9 minutes.
Ask some more questions. Read a colloquy. Tell Mr. T it is not a question so he doesn’t need to respond. He looks at me as if am an ant he’d like to crush with his heel. Defense counsel objects to the colloquy. Mr. T leaves. Exchange pleasantries with defense counsel who has been totally pleasant and professional. Say goodbye to court reporter as she packs up.
Walk down three flights. Open building door. It is dark. Head to car. Over here. Wait. Maybe over there. Walk around a few minutes and realize. Wrong parking lot. Go back into big box building down long beige entry and out the exact other side. Locate car by clicking key button. Lights flash. Get in. 5:30. Drive in hideous rush hour traffic back to Budget. Get lost because phone has no idea that Budget is not with the other companies in the terminal. Call office. Tell Anne how rude Mr. T was. She commiserates. 6:20. Have missed 6:30 flight. She rebooks me.
Arrive at Budget. Take shuttle to airport. Cristina calls. Tell her how rude Mr. T was. She commiserates. Get vegetable salad from take out place and a Lindor milk chocolate ball – the one in a red wrapper Reach gate. 7:05. Just in time to board plane departing at 7:30.
Plane delayed. Eat salad and chocolate.
7:25 Plane arrives. Board. 7:48 plane takes off. Eat apple. Read book on ipad (Fall of Giants by Ken Follett).
8:30 Arrive back in Seattle. Phone tells me where am parked. Go to 6th floor. Get in. Pay $28 to exit. Call Steven. Tell him how rude Mr. T was. He commiserates.
Drive to doggie daycare. They retrieve Nala. 9:20 She is giant fur ball. They have sprayed and fluffed her with a scent that is supposed to mask the odor of what happens when doggies roll around together for 12 hours. It isn’t working.
9:30 home. Read text message from Sol – sorry you had to deal with Mr. T. Text back – no problem it’s part of the job description.
Put away load of laundry. Give Nala some water. Eat handful of raspberries.
10:15 throw on running gear. Go downstairs to treadmill. Run while watching an episode of Game of Thrones. Volume on high to drown out treadmill noise. Daenerys Targaryen is struck by her abusive brother and knocked to the ground. She reaches over to a pillow whereupon lies a magnificent bejeweled barbarian styled necklace. Swings it back. Strikes him in the face. Cuts his cheek. Calmly furious, warns if he lays hands upon her again, she will have them (the hands) removed.
Channel Daenery to facilitate discarding of pent up Mr. T related aggression. Run until done. Call it a day.
Photo: Where I run when it is too dark outside.
On the next page they demand all emails for the past six months.
Isn’t it ironic that they say “please.”
This ladies and gentlemen, is what your friendly neighborhood defense lawyer will slap you with when you file a lawsuit against (in this case) a governmental entity.