I don’t always win. I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “But Good always triumphs over Evil!” But every so often, we have a loss that is frustrating and confounding, and there is no humorous punchline, nor even mildly amusing snicker.
We represent Arkham Hospital, the emergent medical facility associated with Arkham Asylum, Home of the Criminally Insane. In one particular matter, Mr. Clean was admitted for a couple of weeks as a danger to himself, and incurred a bill of about $16,000.00. We sued him, and his response to the pleadings was twenty pages of pencil-handwritten chicken scratch, on lined notebook paper, haphazardly ripped from a spiral notebook, detailing Mr. Clean’s current struggles. He described how he was dishonorably discharged from the military, and after a bout of homelessness, came into an inheritance from a distant, long-lost aunt. He refused to tender any payment, as he believed that the ghosts in the hospital haunted him, and he was only in the hospital for a few hours. The other two weeks or so in which he was admitted should be waived. Probably because of the ghosts.
The Court thereafter deemed his hand-written correspondence to be a formal answer, and set the matter down for conference. At the conference, Mr. Clean showed up in Court in khaki slacks, a blue-button down shirt, and tin foil on his head. Presumably, to keep the government from reading his thoughts.
The Judges in Gotham City rotate each week, so today, Judge Lazy was quick to adjourn the matter, so as not to have any dealings with Mr. Clean. The Court’s documented impetus was for Mr. Clean to go get himself an attorney, and retain counsel.
At the next conference, Mr. Clean did not have counsel. Nor did he wear Reynolds Wrap. This time, he came to Court in jeans and sneakers, and before Judge Tardy even came into the Courtroom, Mr. Clean made such a scene, he was escorted from the Courthouse by armed guards. The Court adjourned to matter to a new date once again, to be scheduled for trial.
Accordingly, we brought a Motion for Summary Judgment, returnable prior to the trial date. Mr. Clean did not appear, and Judge Apathetic granted us judgment. In the enforcement of the judgment, we discovered a bank account containing over $75,000.00.
On the trial date, we appeared to advise the Court that we had previously been awarded judgment. However, this time, Mr. Clean did appear, and the Judge was Judge Harley Quinn, who saw Mr. Clean, and whatever she saw, she saw an opportunity to take action. Maybe she saw a little bit of herself. She decided to vacate the judgment, and proceed with the trial, despite the fact there was procedurally, no application to do so. We fought it, and Judge Quinn rescinded her order, and rather than outright vacate the judgment, stayed any enforcement, directed us to release $2500 from the bank account so Mr. Clean could “live”, and adjourned the matter, for her to find him an attorney, since he clearly lacked the ability to find one on his own. Despite our strenuous objections, there was little we could do. We contacted Arkham, with our recommendation that we file an appeal. However, they advised us that they didn’t want to ever made headlines, and as such, told us to either close the file entirely, or “take what we can get.”
On the next date, Mr. Clean failed to appear. The Judge was Judge Lazy, who looked at the file, and directed it to Judge Quinn’s part. However, she was apparently not sitting in Court that day, and the Clerk adjourned it again.
On the next date, it was on before Judge Quinn, and she stated that she had not found an attorney for Mr. Clean, and despite the fact he had not appeared, she directed us to release $2500 from the account, and you guessed it, she adjourned it again.
The next week, we were contacted by an attorney, Ms. Gordon, who said that she had been appointed as guardian at law for Mr. Clean, and she wanted a copy of our file. I supplied her everything, and she stated to me, “What does Judge Quinn want us to do? He owes the money, doesn’t he?” “I have nothing else to offer you. Why not just pay us from the bank account, I’ll waive interest, and release the balance?” I responded. Ms. Gordon agreed, and said she would contact Mr. Clean.
We never heard back from Ms. Gordon. On the adjourned trial date, as both sides were now represented by counsel, the Court marked the matter off of the calendar.
I left several messages for Ms. Gordon to follow up with the settlement proposal. I again, heard nothing back. So, I brought a Motion to Lift the Stay, and for leave to enforce the judgment previously entered.
Ms. Gordon responded with a Cross-Motion to withdraw as counsel. She detailed her correspondence with Mr. Clean, where he threatened her, and wanted to hunt her down. Clearly, she no longer wished to represent Mr. Clean. Unfortunately for us, the matter was before Judge Apathetic, who directed both motions to Judge Quinn. And therefore, adjourned it.
On the adjourned date, Judge Quinn was reluctant to grant the Ms. Gordon’s motion, and pleaded with Gordon to keep the case. Gordon of course refused, and Judge Quinn stated that she would render a decision in 60 days. We insisted that she evaluate the merits of the case, and if she did not, we would file an appeal, and even so far as an administrative intervention, as it was questionable as to whether or not she was impartial. She said she would take it underadvisement.
After 75 days, we received a decision that stated because we failed to annex the credit card agreement, and our motion for summary judgment was denied. No, that wasn’t a cut-and-paste error in this article, as it clearly was by the Judge. We therefore brought a motion to reargue, as did Ms. Gordon, as the decision utterly failed to address her motion to be relieved as counsel.
On the return date of the Motion, Judge Efficient was sitting, and while procedurally it was to be directed to Judge Quinn, Judge Efficient demanded her to come to the bench to hear the argument on the motions. Judge Quinn magically appeared at the bench, while Judge Efficient stayed and observed. Quinn took the motion on submission.
We received the decision within twenty days, granting the motion to be relieved, and holding our motion in abeyance, pending appearance in Court by Mr. Clean.
On the next Court date, Mr. Clean failed to appear, and Judge Lazy was sitting, who granted us leave to enforce our judgment. When we went to Gotham Bank to execute on the account, it was empty. Apparently, the account was released months prior, pursuant to Court order. We investigated the Order, to find that Judge Quinn had ordered the account to be released, despite the fact that we had received no notice nor copy of that order.
We filed a Motion with the Court to have that order rescinded. Judge Quinn was no longer sitting in Gotham City Court, and Judge Apathetic actually agreed, and rescinded Judge Quinn’s order, thereby ordering Mr. Clean to restore the funds to the account, for us to execute upon. You can guess how much we actually collected as a result of that order.
Timothy Wan is a partner in the firm Smith Carroad Levy & Wan, in Commack, New York, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is always a humorous punchline. Such as “Kate Upton… for your sin