The Window Guy
The Trials of the Window Business
Depositions Can be Eye Opening Experiences
by R. Mark Reasbeck
In the June issue, I attempted to give you a glimpse into my world now that the attorneys have taken over the construction industry in Las Vegas. I have a double file drawer filled with pounds of wasted trees disguised as legal papers; some of them yet unopened. For those of you who missed my last masterpiece, the focus was on the mechanics of a construction defect lawsuit, tactics used by Construction Defect Lawyers (CDL) and how these lawsuits affect our day-to-day business.
How about a Little Sympathy Here
Before I really begin, I would just like the world to know that during May we moved our business into a new facility. Just like the movies, it was seven months in the making, and was an absolute nightmare trying to carry on business and move at the same time. It was similar to planning a wedding, except I’m still waiting for the honeymoon.
Those of you who have accomplished this feat know what I’m talking about. Cleaning out the old warehouse produces some pretty scary stuff.
“I wondered where that went?” became the theme of the move. It is also very stressful. In fact, I gave myself two warning slips and fired myself once. The best part was coming to work at the new building and having the first visitor be a process server with a new construction defect case.
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” I thought.
As Advertised—Part 2
Construction defect lawsuits take years to settle once they are filed. There are two reasons for this. One reason is the process of discovery (or as I like to refer to it as “DUH-scovery”). This is when the lawyers take a job file folder of information, such as contracts, bids, memos and invoices of a particular project, and spend several years looking for a tick on an elephant. After that time, the attorneys pool their collective findings and determine that, indeed, this is the exact project that the contracts, bids, memos and invoices said it was.
The second part of the process, and one close to my heart, is the deposition. This is always a fun time and usually is postponed six times before you actually get to testify. The purpose of the deposition is for the attorneys to interview you and find out how much you know about the contracts, bids, memos and invoices in the alleged job file folder in question. After intense interrogation, the attorneys pool their collective findings and determine that my company did indeed perform work on that particular job, just like the contracts, bids, memos and invoices originally stated.
Do You Solemnly Swear …?
My first deposition experience was eye-opening. The entire seventh floor of this particular bank building contained a cluster of rooms with varying sizes of conference tables. My scheduled room had 23 attorneys sitting around the table, and all I could see were time clocks and hour glasses hanging around their necks. But as you become a veteran at this process, you learn what to look for in the questioning. This past May, I was invited back for a special session with my friends.
“Raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth? ...” I was asked.
Just once I would like to respond, “Only if the attorney does.”
They spent 20 minutes verifying that I am, indeed, me. Various pieces of paper were handed to me for review.
“Is this the correct spelling of your name?” the attorney asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Let the record say this indeed is the correct spelling of Mark Reasbeck and label it exhibit ‘A.’”
It seemed like we were on exhibit “BB,” before they asked me where I was employed. Then they asked me if I recognized an invoice for a particular job.
“You mean the one that has ‘Legend Window Company’ on the top of it?” I asked. (That became exhibit “AAB-1”)
After 90 minutes into this, we got down to business.
“When the windows are installed racked and twisted, does your company go out to fix them?” was the question.
“Is this a hypothetical question?” I asked, “Because the way you worded the question, you infer that all windows that are installed are ‘racked and twisted.’”
After forcing him to rephrase the question, I answered with an abrupt, “No.” (Because the windows were installed by the framing contractor on this job nearly eight years ago.)
A few minutes later he asked, “Have you had problems with your windows on other jobsites in Las Vegas?”
“Only on condo jobs,” I answered.
“What do you attribute this to?” he made the mistake of asking.
“I attribute this to following the money trail back to your chair. This has nothing to do with defective windows or fixing homes for people,” I said. (At that point all you could hear in the room was some woman’s nose whistling.)
The Last Word
Thoroughly frustrated with me, the attorney attempted to wrap things up by asking the other six attorneys in the room if they had any questions for me. There were only two takers, and it was very brief.
“I guess we’re finished here,” the attorney told the court stenographer. “I have one last comment to make,” I said.
I was granted permission to do my “closing statement.”
“I have been called here today to testify on my behalf that I (indeed) supplied $48,000 worth of windows to the ZYX condo project. Referring to the documents you gave me, it is stated by your “so called” expert (who spent one day on the project but cannot be found listed in the phone book as a consultant or contractor) that two out of four windows allegedly leaked.
By formula of extrapolation, he then determined that 350 out of 700 windows must be defective. By his estimates, it will take $385,000 to repair the defective windows, and I have not yet received one service call in more than seven years to fix a broken lock, missing screen or failed piece of glass, (which is under a ten-year warranty), much less a leak. And during this deposition, you have yet to ask me my credentials, experience or level of expertise in my field.”
(Well, now he had to ask, and he did.)
“I have been selling windows in the Las Vegas Valley for 21 years and have owned my own company since 1996, have testified before the insurance commission and was called into the Attorney General’s office as an expert in my field. If that is not enough, (as I slid a copy of SHELTER magazine in front of him), I am a monthly contributing writer for this window and door trade magazine. Now I ask you, if I didn’t know what I was talking about, would I have been commissioned to write for them?”
The Very Last Word
As I passed across the table a “bill” for my time, I said, “Come to think of it, you just gave me an idea for my next two columns.”
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