2018 started out a lot like 2017. There was immense stress from being sued by my father, and fear of the unknown that came along with all of that. There was still plenty of business stress left, as the company distributor was still burning through excess inventory from their huge forecast error in 2016.
To add to all of that, at work we had to update our entire quality system to a new revision, 13485:2016. It was a pretty major overhaul, and required revision to almost every one of 800 quality system documents. Between preparing for trial and overhauling the quality system, I was working a ton of hours, and going home and working more after the kids (and wife) went to bed.
In January, Nicole left her job of nearly 10 years at the transplant institute and took a position as an ICU nurse. She knew she wanted to get critical care experience, and the idea she could have 2-3 days a week off with the girls was too tempting to pass up. Not to mention the savings in daycare.
At the end of January, we were ready for the audit. The auditor came in and was more than a little impressed with the work we’d done, and we passed for the first time ever with ZERO findings of any kind. Those of you who are familiar with quality audits know that’s unheard of.
February was spent preparing for depositions for the trial. Mine was scheduled for mid March, and I had an absolute metric ton of information to digest, understand, and memorize ahead of that. Nicole will be the first to tell you that I was a machine when it came to getting ready for that. I put the finishing touches on the financial analysis just a few days prior to my deposition. That financial analysis involved going through 16,000 documents one page at a time, highlighting relevant transactions, and creating a fact-based history of what had happened financially in the company over 7 years. I boiled down 16,000 pages to a single binder with about 400 pages.
In March, I gave my deposition. The opposing attorney did his level best to get me confused, and then threw a curveball at me right before lunch, essentially accusing me of writing a check after I had resigned (which would of course not be cool). I spent the entire lunchtime fretting about what he could possibly be talking about, because I certainly didn’t have a recollection of doing anything like that, and I hadn’t come across a record during my analysis. After the fact, I went back and looked, and the check he was talking about was written 5 weeks BEFORE I resigned. The question was simply designed to rattle me. Which it did, so nice job, opposing attorney!
A week later, my dad gave his deposition. I won’t get into the specifics except to say that he called me “lazy, with no follow-thru, and with a terrible memory.” So that was endearing! Feelin’ the love!! To be fair though, he had told me the day he filed the lawsuit that if I ended up out of a job, I was “collateral damage.” Equally endearing.
In April, I began taking my certification tests I’d been studying for (kinda), and I obtained my ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Auditor, and Certified Biomedical Auditor certifications. These are industry-recognized certs that help those of us who work in an ISO / FDA business setting.
In May, I turned 40, and my friends and family from all over the country showed up for a surprise party at my house. Not only was it a great party, Nicole planned the entire thing without me getting even an inkling of it, and that’s impressive because she’s terrible and surprises! Nothing really changed with turning 40 except that I finally felt like the grey in my beard was justified.
In June I met with the CPA to go over my financial analysis and make sure he was on board with its accuracy. He was able to look at all of our company records, and he was satisfied. He also looked at my personal bank statements to confirm none of the money in question went to me. I appreciated that he was so thorough, and would have been able to testify (if needed) that I hadn’t taken any money for myself.
June was also Olivia’s dance nationals in Ohio!
In July, I decided to pursue a lifelong dream of working directly in healthcare. As an 18 year old, that was paramedic aspirations, but at 40, I felt I had the sauce to do a BSN/RN. I met with the people at Research College of Nursing and went over my prior degree information. I then applied for their accelerated BSN/RN program. I had to start taking prerequisites right away to be ready for a January 2020 program start, so I had to enroll for them before I even knew if I was accepted. Risky!
August 6th was supposed to be the start of the trial. So naturally, at the last minute, we got bumped. That was some serious emotional letdown, because we were ready to rock and roll. Once the dust settled, our date was set for December 3rd. I didn’t want to spend 4 months stressing, so I told our attorney I wasn’t going to spend one second on trial prep until after Thanksgiving. He agreed.
In August we also took the girls to the Missouri State Fair. As is tradition, it was eleventy million degrees. They still had fun though.
In September, we got a wild hair and took a weekend trip to Branson. The kids had a great time and we got to check the box for “family vacation” even though it was only 2 days.
Also in September, Nicole got a job offer to work mother/baby at Liberty Hospital, which is literally 5 minutes from our house. Mother/baby was her inspiration for becoming a nurse in the first place, and she was excited to make the switch.
And we did family portraits!
September is also when I started taking prerequisites for the nursing program. I enrolled in O-Chem and Nutrition. They were the hardest class and the easiest class I’ve ever taken, respectively. I studied my butt off for chemistry, and I never cracked the book for Nutrition. I got A’s in both classes.
Literally nothing happened in October except for pumpkin patch and Halloween!
November brought Thanksgiving, which was also the trigger for me to start ramping back up for the trial. In a business case based around financial stuff, there’s just a ton to commit to memory. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I got my acceptance letter to the 2020 accelerated BSN!
December 3rd finally rolled around. It was time for trial. I woke up that morning at about 4 AM and was wired. Nicole went with me every day but Wednesday of that week. Day one was the “Jim” show. He pontificated and patted himself on the back and talked about how great he was for the entire day. He insisted everyone call him “Doctor” which was hilarious (since he’s not). He even set up a little… I’m not making this up… he SET UP A BOOK DISPLAY OF HIS BUSINESS BOOKS ON THE LEDGE BEHIND THE PLAINTIFF’S TABLE – COMPLETE WITH LITTLE DISPLAY STANDS!!!!!! There is a time for shameless self-promotion. I’m not sure a jury trial is it.
Day two, Jim continued his testimony which proceeded to be as entertaining and hilarious as it was infuriating. Ironically, during the entire time he testified, he never presented any of his own financial records to try and prove his case. He relied entirely on our historical financial records, which we had already proven conclusively were hot garbage through our examination of 16,000 pages of bank records. And don’t be confused – we gave them the records in discovery – they could have looked at everything for themselves.
On Wednesday, it was finally time for my testimony. Our attorney guided me through a bunch of facts and documents, then it was their turn to cross examine me. That’s when it got fun.
So in his deposition, Jim accused me of deleting a set of invoices. At the time of Jim’s deposition, I had already provided all of those invoices, WITH BATES STAMPS, in discovery. I couldn’t tell him so at his deposition, because I wasn’t allowed to talk. So, I sat there amused, a little bit angry at the false accusation, and mostly astonished he hadn’t looked at the records we had provided.
Fast forward back to the trial. Jim’s attorney, on cross, accused me of deleting those invoices. So I got to say “They aren’t deleted, I provided them on discovery.” The attorney looked dismayed – he had taken Jim’s word for it, and TWO YEARS AFTER THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED, they still hadn’t looked at our discovery records. I checked my notes, and said “You will find them at Bates Numbers 3977-4026.” Preparation paying off is always a beautiful thing. I was certain they’d bring that up again, and I was ready for it.
And that was that… the cross examination wrapped up in a hurry after that. Once I was done, we had a number of witnesses, attorneys, ex-employees, that had fact knowledge and had interacted with Jim. We put on a hell of a case – we had a hell of a legal team. But then it was to the jury.
So we all went into the break room and paced. For my grandma, it was wondering if she’d have a retirement left. For me, it was wondering if I’d have a job. Four hours of deliberations later, the jury came back.
We won. He was told to pay us six figures net and “punitive damages” to be determined by the judge. Now, I know my dad. He will never accept that it was a just verdict. He will blame us, blame others, blame the jury, claim he’s the victim. He’s incapable of admitting when he’s wrong. I’ve never heard him admit a mistake in 40 years, and I can assure you he isn’t Jesus.
I have to admit, the week after the trial, the emotional letdown had me cranky and on edge. It was 21 months of extreme stress (which was his goal in filing the lawsuit), and my family’s well being was at stake. We had hundreds of people praying for us, helping us out with the kids, bringing food, even doing the worship planning for the church (which is normally my job). As we get further away and the victory sets in, we can finally stop talking about the trial, about my dad, etc. Having our family all together and happy has been amazing, as once again demonstrated at Christmas.
My siblings had been reluctant to hang out the past few years, because the dynamic was so toxic. Not so anymore.
So as I enter into 2019, I have more prerequisites to take (Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, and Pathophisiology) prior to the January 2020 start date. I have four amazing daughters and a beautiful wife. I have a mom and siblings who are finally free, happy, and flourishing!
Olivia is going to start high school in the fall. She’s also in competitive dance again, and was one of the few girls at the studio to be selected to do a competitive solo! Elaina will be starting real school in the fall of 2019, so she is growing up fast. Mia is almost 3 and is the toughest kid I’ve ever met. Molly is 2 and is entering into an obstinate phase, but she’s still one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. Nicole is finally in a job she loves, with several days a week to spend with the kids.
Oh, I almost forgot, I more or less finished up my tattoos for the time being.