It helps to have truth on your side!
Robinson, Waters & O’Dorisio (RWO) had taken on the malpractice case, and provided sympathetic, eager and competent counsel. Mike Callahan was able to ease out of the malpractice, and leave us in capable (and larger) hands, while still leading the charge in our cases against the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Moye & White pressed forward in negotiations with the State and the IRS, and we filed suit against the state (as outlined in their procedures) in District Court, Huerfano County (Conservation Easement District 2). Mike Callahan joined as Co-Counsel on July 7, 2012, and eventually we eased Moye & White out of representing us on the State cases.
So, the batting lineup now looked like this:
- Malpractice: Robinson, Waters & O’Dorisio (RWO)
- IRS: Moye & White
- State: Michael Callahan, PC.
By the summer of 2012, we had the final settlement agreements with the IRS for all 14 cases, which were considerably more favorable than what A&J had negotiated. We submitted the agreements to the court, and the judge’s final decision claimed that we had “deficiencies” in income tax due, but these deficiencies were greatly reduced from the IRS’s original claim of a total disallowance of the charitable contributions we and our partners had claimed for the land donations, and the IRS also waived penalties and interest (which was a considerable amount of money). While no settlement is ever happy for either side, and we still believed this never should have happened in the first place, we were done. We were unhappy at the vast sums of money we had lost, disappointed that we had been caught in this “perfect storm” through no fault of our own, but relieved to have it over.
After some tough and prolonged negotiations with the Colorado Department of Revenue, we finally came to a settlement with them in January of 2013. Stan, Marsh, and I bit into their legs and harried them like relentless bulldogs. Our settlement, like any settlement, was discouraging, but it was over and it appeared to be the best we were going to get: we (meaning all our partners) owed the state $2.1 million dollars, but that was greatly reduced from the State’s original claim and they released us from those prior claims, penalties, and interest as well as future claims. They also allowed the transferees (those who had purchased the tax credits) to keep their previous tax credits and continue to use any unused portion (in other words, transferees were not damaged in any way).
Simultaneously, the malpractice case was ramping up. Stan and I, along with quite a few of our partners, had been through grueling depositions. He went first, and his quick mind and legal experience kept him from being snared by those crazy-wicked lawyer questions. I was next, and for some reason, Major Law Firm decided they wanted to videotape my deposition – maybe it was just to tighten the screws and intimidate me.
Among just a few of the insults that were heaped on injury, we were accused of deliberately losing documents in our house fire and chastised for not having an inventory of the documents that we lost in the fire. How can you inventory ashes?
Those days of depositions are permanently etched in my mind. I remember walking from RWO’s offices to MLF’s offices for my deposition saying, “Keep it together, keep it together, keep it together.” Eight straight hours of being grilled and videotaped ensued while I tried to remain calm, optimistic, and unflappable. My deep academic experience with language did the same for me as Stan’s legal experience had done for him – I could spot the false proposition embedded in the question, and asked them to rephrase it. By noon on my deposition day, one of our lead lawyers said he was leaving (we had more than one lawyer there). I panicked a bit and asked him why he was leaving. He said, “You’re a natural. Some people are just born for this. I have no worries. You don’t need me.” Nice work, team. Of course, it helps to have truth on your side. ©Sharon Cairns Mann.