By January 24th, just four days after the fire, we continued corresponding with Jeff Springer and Scott McHenry at Springer at Steinberg, P.C. regarding the malpractice case, and pushing to get them to file the complaint against Todd and Wishful Thinking. We had come to believe that negligent advice from Todd and Wishful Thinking had resulted in our exposure to millions of dollars in losses, and we had the statute of limitations question breathing down our necks -- we felt it was urgent to file the complaint.
By January 31, Stan had also met with the new tax lawyers at Moye & White and began deciding the manner in which they would approach the IRS, most likely with a counter-offer to their horrible first offer. We were trying to maintain the case as a consolidated case, rather than 15 separate cases.
We wrote to our partners with an update with all this in it on January 31, saying, “Hang in there with us. We are still fighting the battle full force.”
Another Law Firm Bites the Dust
Springer and Steinberg, PC filed the malpractice case against Todd and Wishful Thinking for us in approximately March (one step forward), but then abruptly backed out of representing us in April. What!? We now had a case filed, but no legal representation (two steps back)!
Again we began our desperate search for a malpractice attorney. Again, we encountered a law firm willing to talk to us, but, after months of discussions they declined to take the case. (We believe that all these firms who declined to take our case were just too small and were unwilling to go up against the giants…more on that in a few more paragraphs.)
We were coming up against some deadline with the court in the malpractice case – I can’t remember what it was – but it was urgent and we needed to do something.
Country Lawyer to the Rescue
On July 7, 2011, we attended a meeting in La Junta of Landowners United (LOU), the group of landowners in southeastern Colorado who had all been hurt by the conservation easement scandal (see Blog Post #26 for a fuller description of LOU). We met a “country lawyer” there named Michael Callahan. Mike’s office is in Pueblo, but he served southeastern Colorado, mostly on agricultural and land-related issues.
After the meeting, I insisted that Stan call Mike to see if he would take on the malpractice case, even if it was temporary.
To our amazement, Mike agreed to see us, so on July 25, 2001, we drove to Pueblo and told him our story. Maybe because he’s just a good guy, or maybe because he had already heard so much of the anguish from other landowners, but Mike did not have the same disdain for us that the other lawyers we had approached had had.
For him to take on the malpractice case against Todd, Todd’s huge law firm, and the other large law firm that represented them was more than a David and Goliath story. This little one-man law office just didn’t have the resources to tackle this. But he was willing to take it on with the understanding that 1) he was stepping in to save our butts in the short-term, 2) that Stan and our other lawyer partner (Marsh) would have to work like maniacs to support the endeavor, and 3) that we would need to continue to look for representation from a larger law firm with more resources.
Mike was our hero – we finally had someone who would really champion our cause, and not in the half-assed, half-hearted way that we had previously experienced with the other law firms and prospective law firms. Mike was on board and at last we had a ray of hope: maybe we would survive! ©Sharon Cairns Mann