Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dismissed Without Prejudice

I wish I had good news to share. I wish instead of trying to explain the very stupid judgment that was handed down today I was posting the best happy dance video ever. But I'm not.
Small Claims Court was very interesting. My friend and former co-worker, Sara, was there with me. We heard cases from someone who parked in a handicapped spot in her apartment complex and got towed, but thinks the complex should pay for it because there wasn't enough parking (she lost), to a boyfriend and girlfriend fighting it out over who owes who what. The judge seemed very reasonable. We thought I had a good shot.
But the defendant didn't show up. Her lawyer did. I was very worried about what that could possibly mean. I was never given a chance to explain my case. Instead before anything else could happen her lawyer made a motion to dismiss because apparently I have a case open against her with the Utah Wage and Labor Commission.
This was news to me.
Yes, I opened a case against her back in August. I canceled that case, via phone call, back in October when they advised me that they were going to be very useless in this case. And that if I continued with them it would be years before the case would ever get settled. That was October 7. I filed my lawsuit on Oct 31. The defendant has refused all communications from the Wage and Labor people since August. I had letters from the State proving that.
With their motion to dismiss they had to show my W&L case. This was the first evidence any of us have ever seen that she has accepted a letter from them.
So my case was "dismissed without prejudice" because I have no way of proving that my claim was canceled. My side of the story was never heard. I was stuck between a lawyer and a judge using terms I have never heard before. The judge even snottily told me to stop taking the advice of W&L and get advice from a real lawyer.
And the defendant yet again gets away without having to pay me the wages I earned while employed by her.
If we're going to pretend there is a brightside to this, it would be that we can now go back to W&L and prove that she's received something from them. This also proves that she knows she owes us/me. She wasn't trying to fight that. She is just trying to prolong this further.
All in all, this sucks. I've been angry and crying ever since leaving the court house. I'm so mad that the bad guy keeps winning. And in the meantime I get to keep on making payments to the bank to repay them for her bounced check.
I'm angry and hurt. Justice wasn't served. And she keeps getting away with murder. It just all really sucks.

6 comments:

  1. somethingguy2:04 AM

    Yikes! In Canada judges are not to dismiss cases without hearing both sides out-it is the audi alterem rule of natural justice ie. everyone has a right of audience as a litigant. I can not give you legal advice but you should contact W&L and ask them if they will order a transcript of the small claims proceedings or whether that is your task. The reason for so doing is to prevent the ex employer from denying the comments of her lawyer that were made in court. It sounds as if up to today the ex employer has not been attorning to the jurisdiction of W&L.
    Unfortunately it does sound like you may need to consult an attorney.What you certainly do not want is to wait 2 years for W&L to do their thing in case they can not get results. For example they decide they can not act on your claim because you were a contractor and not an employee and are not covered by the relevant legislation. I do not know if this example is a realistic issue or not but there may be other problems that preclude W&L from being helpful. If you wait 2 years you will probably have a limitations problem that would prevent you from re-filing in small claims court. Hence the need to seek legal advice if you can afford it at all. A lawyer may advise you that it is wise to refile in small claims court now to avoid a statute of limitations but adjourn your case sine die until W&L does what it does. Sine die means adjourn to a date to be determined in the future.
    Here in Canada all law schools have free legal services offered by senior law students for cases such as yours. Their chief service is to guide people through unfamiliar legislation and also through bureaucracies like W & L sounds like it may be.This could be a last resort for you to consider if legal fees are too much for you.
    Regretably procedural rules produce, too often, Kafkaesque results such that a person simply can not even ask a judge to hear the merits of a case. Chin up. And remember, her lawyer is punishing her with fees.Somethingguy

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  2. I lost my court case last spring. I had to leave work I was so upset. I WISH I could have gotten a case dismissed, then I wouldn't have had to pay. But I find justice in the fact that this crooked attourney is now under investigation for unethical law practices.
    Your case wasn't lost and your justice is delayed. It could be worse, it could be over and done with. Thank goodness you have a new job with a $20,000 raise that you can survive off of. It sucks having to get a 2nd job I know, but things can always be worse: No job period.
    Hang in there, girl. It ain't ova til it's Ova. The Lord has things figured out, even if we have to wait on being let in on it.

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  3. Anonymous7:20 AM

    That's tough, Erinannie. Good luck and my sympathy!

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  4. It's frustrating that companies, and employers get away with this kind of thing all the time. :-( Hang in there.

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  5. Jules7:52 PM

    I have my ninja garb ready. You know, just in case...

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  6. If you haven't already consulted with a lawyer, BYU Law School has a number you can call to get a referral to a lawyer for a free consultation. I used it because I couldn't afford a lawyer, and I don't qualify for legal aid--BYU doesn't require you to qualify for food stamps to use their service.

    I called, set up and appointment, and they told me where and when to go. The lawyer I met with gave me great advice and pointed me in the right direction. Maybe it can be of help to you, if you're not already past that point.

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