Prior to finding posts here at Minnesota Transplant more regularly earlier this month, perhaps you wondered why I didn’t post in most of November and December.
Or perhaps you didn’t.
Two of my readers remarked on my absence. My mother and my uncle. Which humbly reminds me no one hangs on my every word.
Still, I want to explain the drought in posts, and my attorneys have given me the OK. Yes, you read that right—my attorneys. It wasn’t holiday preparations that prevented me from blogging every day about my adorable mini schnauzer, my latest kitchen experiment or the books I read. Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time in late 2015 sitting in a federal courtroom in Chicago (or sitting on a train getting there or getting home—do you have any idea how much it costs to park your car in downtown Chicago?!).
Fortunately, I am not a defendant. I am among four named plaintiffs suing the people we deem responsible for failing to protect my former employer’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) of which I was a participant.
We brought this case seven years ago after the company where I worked declared bankruptcy, rendering the employee stock I had earned by working there almost a decade as valueless.
Indeed, we four named plaintiffs represent something like 400 former employees who participated in the ESOP and were left with nothing despite working for years to make the company successful. At stake is $100 million (not as big as the record Powerball jackpot, but still, a fair chunk of change).
For seven weeks in November and December, I witnessed the wheels of justice turn (slowly). Our attorneys rested their case in mid-December after presenting 15 live witnesses, a slew of depositions and hundreds of exhibits in the form of emails, reports and PowerPoint presentations relevant to a financial transaction that occurred 13 years ago.
I have been amazed (and honestly sometimes bored) at the level of detail and complexity presented. Most of the time, I’ve been spellbound both by the information and the forum in which it has been presented. It hasn’t been as fascinating or salacious as an episode of “L.A. Law” (am I showing my age?) but do understand why so many books, television shows and movies are set in a courtroom. Much of the testimony centered on financial reports rather than police reports as many legal dramas portray (though often I’ve felt the company I once loved was the subject of an archaeological autopsy).
There was blood (imagine the paper cuts inherent so many paper exhibits!), sweat and, yes, tears. Attorneys objected, condescended and sputtered. Indeed, American’s judicial system is adversarial, and I have a new appreciation for the system. It’s a bench trial (meaning a judge will decide, not a jury) so there’s been less posturing than I witnessed in the criminal trials I covered decades ago as a newspaper reporter.
It would be difficult for me to feel I haven’t had my day in court. At one point, our case was dismissed and back then I felt, well, dismissed and demoralized. We appealed and won the right to be heard in court. Regardless of the outcome now, I believe the judge is being diligent and working hard. It’s been a long, sometimes arduous road, but I do not regret having brought the suit, and I am in fact proud to be representing the call for justice in this case.
I don’t know nor can I predict what will happen in court, though I remain hopeful we will prevail.
Our attorneys have presented a very good case. One of them likened it to a restaurant preparing a great meal – we’ve grilled our best steak, mashed the best potatoes and served it all on fine china. But we cannot predict if the restaurant critic (i.e., the judge) will like it. Now, we wait. We wait for the defense to present (they started their case on Tuesday and will probably be at it for three weeks), and then we will wait for the judge to rule. But it’s been seven years, so what’s a few more weeks or months?
I will not be observing the defense case so for the time being, my life returns to normal.
And now, so can my blog.