I was worried about going to Pittsburgh. I felt Bob was totally unprepared for trial, having prepped no one, having gotten the wrong specialist.
Was he going to lose my case because he had not done his homework? Would Dr. Jannetta still end up getting away with what he did?
Bob's first call to me was to say "Don't come up now." His second call raised my hopes.
"Carol, I have an offer from the other side." My heart leapt. My stomach clutched. I was ready to feel elated. After all, without an attorney, a judge had said the case was worth $250,000 to $350,000. This was my lawyer speaking. He would know how to get what it was worth.
"They have offered $250,000. I think you should consider taking it." "Bob, No. That is not what this case is worth. You know what he did to me. We have his perjured testimony and the other proof. No. I will not accept that." "Okay, you should think about it, but I'll go back and see what I can do."
My body shook with anger. My face was paralyzed, my eye sewn shut, maybe permanently, surgeons could not do what they wanted because of the scarring left from the Jannetta procedure. $250,000? No. It was not enough to make up for what he did, to punish him (punitive damages, not revenge), to cover my lifetime medical costs because of his negligence, malpractice, and lie.
He called again. I am not allowed to tell you the amount, by settlement contract. Each time he went lower. "They are offering ($------)."
"$(------)? You're supposed to be going up Bob, not down!" Once again he said "Ok. I'll talk to them and call you back."
I stood by the phone, trembling. There was no one to call for help.
The pain had taken my chance at living a real life, working and making friends. There was no family. I was by myself. The pain and the narcotics did not help in my being able to fight for myself. And Bob, I think, knew that.
The phone rang. I cringed, afraid of what he would say this time.
"We have a new offer of $(------) (lower still)." I fought the tears. "If I refused the $250,000 why would you even think I would take this? Why are you not fighting for me?" "Carol, this is their offer. Think about it." He hung up.
I was thinking about it. He was not ready for trial. (Mike Fishbein would later write in a letter to me that Bob would be doing all the expert prep (including me) while the trial was ongoing (We would be in Court, how could he be outside talking to the witness at the same time?) or he, Mike, would come up to do some of it. Neither ever mentioned that to me.)
The next call was a reminder to think about the offer "Have you changed your mind?". "I already told you you were supposed to be going up. I am not going to take a lower number. The $250,000 was offensive enough." "Well the offer is now at $(------). Obviously you don't want to say 'Yes' to that. I'll call you back."
Call number 6 was even lower. "Carol, we have an offer of $(------)." I could not figure out what he was doing. He was not ready for trial. Evidently any offer was okay to him. After all this would be the least amount of work for a 33 1/3% payoff regardless of how I fared.
Call number 7 had me at my wit's end. "Carol, they will not go above the $(------)." I was crying, sobbing into the phone. "You were supposed to work for me. This is not what was supposed to happen. I don't care what you do. Just get rid of this. Take it." I said weeping copiously, my words barely intelligible. I begged "Please, just stop it, now." I meant he should stop his behavior, his calling and browbeating me. "Ok. I'll tell them we accept." "I don't care. Just get this over with!"
The calls stopped. The amount was accepted, no matter how I had said it.
I agreed out of pure frustration, anger, fear of his having it thrown out because he was not prepared. The amount was an insult but I was exhausted from the emotional whipping I had taken.
I did not accept the settlement. I had to wait and get through the weekend. First thing Monday morning I called Mike Fishbein.
"Mike, Bob forced me into agreeing to the settlement. I do not agree with it. Tell them my agreement is withdrawn."
The final fight was about to begin.