I’m not allowed to say anything about our malpractice case except we reached a “mutually satisfactory settlement, the terms of which are confidential.” We were scheduled for a jury trial in April of 2013. Many of our partners were gearing up for trips to Colorado to be in attendance. In March – only about two to three weeks before the trial -- we settled the case against Todd and Wishful Thinking.
We settled. But I think I can also say I was bitterly disappointed by the settlement (contrary to the “mutually satisfactory” language in the settlement agreement) and the attorneys at RWO had to take turns talking me into signing it. They assured me that the other side was also bitterly disappointed, thus making a perfect settlement. But, after a lot of prayer, I came to a place of peace. Here’s what I posted on FB at the time: Thank you to all who prayed for us as we wrestled with difficult decisions about the legal quagmire we were in. I have an abundance of gratitude and peace about the decision we reached, which was to settle the case and not go to trial. I’m very confident that the decision we made and the resulting peace would not have happened without your prayers. All I’m allowed to say about the case is that we reached a “mutually satisfactory settlement, the terms of which are confidential.” The issues will not go away immediately and it is not the end of the road for the business – we have a lot to sort out and it may take years. Nonetheless, I’m confident the worst is behind us and I am so grateful to you for your prayers and those who have supported us through this long saga. May you be blessed in return for standing with us in solidarity and support! Thanks be to God.
The High Price
My disappointment stemmed from the fact that the settlement didn’t cover any of our emotional suffering, and precious little of our financial losses. Our financial losses stemmed from three major areas:
- While we were glad to be done with the IRS, and to have settled our cases regarding their “disallowances,” we still had to pay money that, to this day, we believe we should not have had to pay.
- While we were glad to be done with the State, and to have settled our cases regarding their “disallowances,” we still had to pay money that, to this day, we believe we should not have had to pay.
- We also had to pay for all these years of legal wrangling I’ve been describing.
How did we manage to come with all this money? It wasn’t easy. We did it through a combination of three money sources.
- Fortunately, Stan and I are fiscal conservatives. As the money from the conservation easements came in, we held back reserves before distributing funds to our partners, so the partnership had some reserves to start with. Of course, we quickly drained those funds in paying for the early legal wrangling, but thank goodness they were there..
- Second, we called for funds from our partners. We did several “calls for funds,” but we had to be careful, because most of our partners did not have cash sitting around for these unexpected requests, and many of them lived in terror of losing their houses or worse in this situation.
- Third, the partnership took out loans.
- Fourth, the malpractice settlement covered some of the outstanding debt, but not all, by a long shot.
The donating partners had to pay the IRS in the summer of 2012. Now we had to pay off the State, and pay off the loans. No matter what the outcome of the malpractice case, it could never pay back our partners for all the terror they had lived through. It could never pay me back for losing my marriage, years of my life, my job, my health, and all the sleepless nights. We had done nothing illegal or immoral. We followed the rules. We got screwed.
I’m not whining – I’m just stating the facts. We were making progress in dispensing with the mess, but I sure was grumpy about it. Any peace I felt did not stem from having an outstanding settlement, because it wasn’t. It was based on the fact that it was the “safest” decision for our partners, pure relief at not having to go to trial, and liberation from the case. We had made grumpy progress.©Sharon Cairns Mann