Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Disingenuous Disinformation Spin

We are now getting the spin of disinformation being put on the dismissal of TAMPOA's lawsuit. One commenter who is spouting the spin says we are jumping to "negative conclusions" by our reporting and with more spin opines,

"The City Attorney and the Mayor have been avoiding accepting service. The suit was dismissed merely as an administrative item. When they are successfully served, the scheduling meeting will be held."
Sorry Anonymous, that dog won't hunt. Here is WHAT IS REAL:

Under Rule 4(j)(2) the City Attorney does not have to be served; only the Mayor. Almost everyone, including even the TAMPOA attorneys, know where the Mayor is. He has not avoided delivery of the Summons and Complaint to him. Rule 4 states:

"Service upon a state, municipal corporation, or other governmental organization subject to suit, shall be effected by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its chief executive officer or by serving the summons and complaint in the manner prescribed by the law of that state for the service of summons or other like process upon any such defendant."

Service on the United States (the only other defendant in the suit) is also a simple matter. Rule 4(i)(1) says:

"Service upon the United States shall be effected

(A) by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the United States attorney for the district in which the action is brought or to an assistant United States attorney or clerical employee designated by the United States attorney in a writing filed with the clerk of the court or by sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint by registered or certified mail addressed to the civil process clerk at the office of the United States attorney and

(B) by also sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint by registered or certified mail to the Attorney General of the United States at Washington, District of Columbia . . ."

In fact, Rule 4 makes service of process in Federal Court cases increadibly easy. It can even be done by mail in some instances. Obviously, our commenter is not familiar with the rule.

The Federal judge' s February 8, 2007 scheduling order DID NOT SAY that the scheduling conference OR the scheduling report COULD WAIT for the complaint to be served.

The attorneys for TAMPOA knew or should have known how to obtain service on the defendants.

The Summons in the case was signed on March 20, 2007. The Summons should have been (and ordinarily would have been) prepared back on February 6, 2007 when the Federal suit Complaint was filed; especially if there was any inkling that there would be any difficulty with service of process. According to the Federal Court record in the Clerk's Office, the Summons in the Federal case was not even received by the Federal Court Clerk to sign (using a signature stamp) until March 20, 2007. The Summons must be prepared by the plaintiff's (TAMPOA's) counsel. See Rule 4(b). The one submitted to the Federal court Clerk's Office was hand printed, not typed, suggesting it was done somewhat hastily or in person at the Clerk's office. To be sure, there is nothing technically wrong with hand printing the Summons, but as a routine matter, we would expect such documents to be typed, especially coming from a firm with the alleged reputation of the one TAMPOA has hired.

If Counsel for the defendants will not waive service of process, as was alleged to be the case here, service can be made in the manner described above. As a matter of courtesy to each other, lawyers waive service all the time, unless their clients instruct them not to do so. It is simply not credible to assert that the City or the United States or their counsel were "avoiding service." Why would they, when they know what the Federal Rules provide?

The reality here appears to be that service was NOT made until March 28, 2007 on the United States and perhaps not at all on the City. The United States has said it did not receive the Summons and Amended Complaint until March 28 in its motion for an extension of time that the federal judge denied as moot.

The judge's February 8 order was crystal clear and contained a clear warning about non-compliance:"[f]ailure of counsel to file a joint scheduling report within the deadlines set forth [in the February 8, 2007 order] may result in dismissal, default, and the imposition of other sanctions including attorney's fees and costs." The scheduling order required that a joint scheduling conference be held by April 7, 2007 and that a report be filed by April 20, 2007. Service had been made before April 7. The judge was not provided any valid excuse for missing the April deadlines. They were either forgotten or ignored.

The failure of TAMPOA's attorneys to abide by the deadlines in the Federal judge's Scheduling Order of February 8, 2007 that resulted in dismissal of the Federal suit can't be excused by the alleged, but unsubstantiated claim that the defendants avoided accepting service. Regardless of whether the defendants were avoiding service, it was still the respondibility of the plaintiff's attorneys to abide by the scheduling order. If that meant having to get the defendants served back in February, (instead of sometime after March 20) then that's what the lawyers should have done. The plain truth is they did not. In fact none of the lawyers in the case even asked the judge to change the deadlines or to give the parties additional of time to comply with the Scheduling Order. One can't blame the judge for letting the parties know he wasn't kidding about the deadlines he set.

The Anonymous commenter, without any evidence or knowledge of Federal Court procedure (or Federal law), states, "The suit was dismissed merely as an administrative item. When they are successfully served, the scheduling meeting will be held." This statement alone shows the disinformation spin being put on the facts by those who will buy any silly excuse to believe that TAMPOA and its attorneys can make no mistakes. What the Anonymous commenter does not get is that the Federal suit HAS BEEN DISMISSED AND THE CASE FILE CLOSED by the Federal Court. It now does not matter now that the defendants "are [or were] successfully served." The federal lawsuit filed in February is over and will have to be refiled. In essence, TAMPOA must start over.

It is also bogus to say, as our ignorant Anonymous commter does, that "The suit was dismissed merely as an administrative item." The commenter wants you to believe that the dismissal was a trivial thing, but it is not. The truth is the suit is done for unless and until it is refiled. All the time between February and now to get the litigation well underway has now been lost and effectively wasted.

And, what about the money spent? Who exactly in TAMPOA will mind the billings from the lawyers to see (if one can) whether TAMPOA gets charged for whatever work that now needs to be re-done? Will that be the TAMPOA Board? Likely not. More important, even if the TAMPOA attorneys absorb the cost of re-filing, it is impossible to absorb or recoup the opportunity costs that have been lost as a result of the case being dismissed. That time is lost, and is time which has value to TAMPOA members -- almost three months more that, despite any speed in resolution, members must wait for answers sought by the lawsuit. Moreover, all the time and energy the TAMPOA Board members and others have invested in supporting the lawsuit has been largely wasted by this result. Sadly, all that time and energy must now be reinvested again.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who was served, I didn't have to honor the subpoena because it did not go through the proper process for me to be served. Then again, I work for a major non-profit, national security department that specializes in the maritime sector.

5/02/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Conchette, you are providing clear detailed analysis and explanation which contrasts with the now-expected banal trite bromide spins doled out by TAMPOA administration and management. I am sure that TAMPOA is losing more and more believers among Truman Annex homeowners. Yes, as you point out, they gloss over the time lost in this latest development. Time is money and while that may be good for an attorney it bodes poorly for Truman Annex residents that now must lose more months while their investment in Truman Annex continues in limbo pending resolution of this sad state of affairs (Could this go on for more years to come?). In the meantime, it will simply be a matter of time, until virtually all homeowners get tired of being treated like mushrooms (being kept in the dark and fed manure).

5/02/2007 05:08:00 PM  

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