Today the jury spoke in a case I brought in 2012 against UCAN for breach of contract, invasion of privacy and three other wrongful termination counts. After a one-week trial, a jury of 12 found that UCAN was wrong and that I had acted properly, reasonably and legally. The jurors vote: 11-1 in favor of all five causes of action I brought against UCAN.
The big winner in this three-year case was truth, fought for by myself, numerous attorneys, witnesses, ex-UCAN board members and those who believed in my 28-years of ethical advocacy on behalf of consumers. The big loser in this case was lies; lies told by disgruntled UCAN employees, by UCAN's current executive director Don Kelly, by UCAN's attorney James Crosby (whose accusation that I engaged in systematic embezzlement would have been blatant slander if uttered outside of a courtroom) and by those who give short-shrift to facts. And, finally, the jurors exposed the lies by two San Diego media outlets who engaged in a four-year smear campaign. These 12 jurors drove home the point that justice is fact-driven, speculation is media-driven.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this controversy is how 12 people were able to ascertain the truths that escaped the Union-Tribune's reporters and editors. It is sobering reminder of the importance of facts and the dangers of innuendo. U-T reporter Jeff McDonald's shameless distortions have now been fully debunked; Every allegation made by my detractors and printed by the UT and San Diego Reader have been thoroughly debunked. Not one of their outrageous charges has ever been upheld by any administrative or legal agency…..or, now a jury.
Moreover, UCAN — a consumer and privacy advocacy organization – was found by the jury to have hacked into my personal computer account without a shred of authorization while Kim Malcolm ran the organization. She lasted only six months and remains, to this day, unapologetic of her decision to violate state privacy laws. The jury found that under her direction, UCAN violated the state Penal Code.
All told, I spent four years of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the local media and a well-financed adversary (UCAN's insurance carrier) Yet, I view it as one of my most satisfying investments of time and effort because it affirmed for me and proved to others that:
- Justice is possible in America, even against steep odds;
- If you refuse to allow others to erode your own esteem and dignity, you can overcome the most ill-conceived assaults;
- To have faith in those 12 peers who sit on a jury, but above all, have faith in yourself.
I will not deny that this has been an ordeal, but I can think of no ordeal from which I've gained greater gratitude or wisdom. I wish this upon no person but share great respect for those who have sought justice against the odds and prevailed. For any of you brave souls who venture forth into the civil justice system in a case like this, I urge that you never go into the ordeal of a trial alone. I had the amazing support of a highly-principled and determined trial attorney (Steven Boehmer) and wise trial strategist (Chip Edleson) along with the love-friendship of so many people whose names need not be printed here because they are etched, forever, into my memory and heart.
For those with high regard for facts, here are some of the unrebutted facts that came out of this case — facts that the Union-Tribune will never print even though it had reporters camped out during the entire case:
- Numerous UCAN board members had signed bonus checks for me over a 20-year period — all with full information about how the bonuses had been calculated and were consistently calculated.
- All of UCAN's financial, payroll and administrative records were fully intact and delivered to UCAN.
- Not one Board member…..ever…..criticized my administration or accomplishments of UCAN at a board meeting or in my presence, during my 27 years at UCAN. Moreover every penny at UCAN had been fully accounted for during my directorship tenure.
- UCAN's attorney desperately tried to get a faked set of Board minutes into the evidentiary record, but the jury paid it no heed.
- UCAN's current Executive Director signed and filed forms with the IRS in 2012 indicating that my compensation had been fully approved and evaluated by the Board for the years 2009-2012.
- Kendall Squires — the sole Board member to testify against me at trial had no recollection of any material facts and, according to UCAN's own attorney, had no idea that there even was a bonus program at UCAN in 2011…even though he had served as treasurer of the organization for the previous 13 years.