Negative ANN article about Cirrus

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Dave Siciliano, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. PW_Plack

    PW_Plack Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is tricky to follow, but I guess that's why they have lawyers.

    In the transcript of the April 8 oral settlement, page 4 line 4, Johnson refers to "the releases that will be included." Mercer responds, "OK." So it looks, on the surface, as if Mercer was, at that point, also anticipating additional releases.

    The parties on each side are called out, including Mercer's inclusion of Aero News Network (mispelled "Arrow" in the transcript, but neither Campbell nor Mercer would have known that till it appeared in writing) in the "party of the second part" at the top of page 4.

    At the top of page 5, Mercer notes that the second point of the settlement (the first being return of the plane) is a release of "any and all claims against each other and claims by party of the second part (Campbell, KSA, ANN) against the party of the first part, or vice versa."

    At the bottom of page 7, Mercer asks Campbell if, on behalf of himself, KSA and ANN, he agrees to the terms of the compromise, and Campbell replies, "Yes." After all agree, they go off the record.

    I haven't seen any mention in Mercer's subsequent documents or transcripts of hearings of what, specifically, he feels has changed in the written releases prepared by Johnson and Cirrus. Is there ambiguity in the verbal that would be clarified, to Cirrus's advantage, in written form?.

    In the transcript of the April 25 hearing, Judge Skinner tells Mercer he suspects an "ulterior motive" or "additional litigation you plan to bring as soon as this case is dismissed." Mercer seems to hint the judge is right with his reply: "And that may be appropriate if it's not governed by the stipulation."

    So, Cirrus digs in from the position that there is no settlement until a written, signed, notarized release binding ANN backs up the verbal settlement. Mercer holds out for leaving ANN's ability to sue intact, but complains to the court that the meter is running. And between now and June 18, Campbell needs to decide whether to further delay the trial by filing an appeal of Judge Skinner's refusal to recuse himself, and KEEP the meter running.

    It will be interesting to see if Campbell has the means to continue the staring contest. From a financial standpoint, he wrote, in an FAQ on the ANN site last year:

    That seemed to imply imminent foreclosure, but Clay County records showed he didn't own his home at Haller Airpark, so he may have been referring to needing to find lower rent. But he also may not be as far in the hole as it appears. In the same FAQ he notes he is...

    If Mercer is a fan of ANN, he might be in it on some kind of contingency basis, having taken the case knowing he'd have to win to collect. If that's true, perhaps we will see an appeal which delays the trial. Presumably, Cirrus has figured out it needs to see this through to either a solid, written release or a victory in court to end the litigation.

    But would a victory in court bind ANN from suing? Is preserving some percentage hope of that future payday enough to keep Campbell and Mercer fighting?

    Both sides may be motivated to settle. Campbell has spent three decades trying to live down the NTSB thing. Cirrus could have a problem if this, from the ANN Legal Fund FAQ, is accurate:

    If that video is around and shows what Campbell says it shows, that could be an exhibit at the trial.

    Also of interest financially, ANN is again trying to find a marketing person. This time, the recruitment is focused on a new edition of the SportPlane Resource Guide, which was being promoted around the time of the LSA show at Sebring in January. I have no idea how the cash flows for the directory, but if deposits are accepted from advertisers in advance, the cupboard may not be completely bare.

    It's fascinating to follow the documentation in this case, if only for its educational value in parsing the English language.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  2. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude

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    Interesting, I thought that thing was dead. I cut up my EAA membership and tech counselor cards in 2006 when EAA announced they were collaborating with Campbell on the next edition of his "guide." The collaboration never materialized but it was the thought that counted. :nono:

    I also see he's touting his "test pilot" experience again (which is what led to me finding PoA and this thread).

    Nauga,
    RAH15/no shirt, no shoes
     
  3. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Ah, well...the problem is, how much to believe Campbell when he speaks about his financial status and/or level of support? Back when he sued me, Nauga, and the rest of the RAH-15, he proclaimed he had many legal advisors all assuring him of the legal solidity of his stance. He even implied he had F. Lee Bailey lined up as counsel, and of COURSE money was pouring in to the "Legal Defense Fund".

    In reality, of course, he had a bankruptcy filing and a career pilot who dusted off his law degree after retirement.

    But, as you say, his current lawyer may be working pro bono. Wouldn't be unusual, MOST of his lawyers end up working pro bono. :)

    The issue regarding whether a verbal contract existed is an interesting one. In the current case, Cirrus had not made any statement one way or another...once the Judge excluded ANN as a party, the issue was moot, as far as this suit was concerned. Cirrus had no reason to answer Campbell's claims of the violation of a verbal agreement, since it had no bearing on this case.

    ANN *could* have sued separately, years ago. Note that Campbell has previously sued "advertisers" over non-payment in accordance of supposed verbal contracts for amounts less than $10,000. Why the delay in this case...other than the fact that Cirrus could afford to pay for its defense and wasn't as vulnerable to legal extortion?

    The written contract presented by Cirrus isn't incompatible with the existence of a separate verbal contract between ANN and Cirrus. As we discussed a long while ago, a verbal contract would be governed by the Florida Statute of Frauds. I'm no lawyer, but from my reading of it, the Statute of Frauds limits a verbal contract to a one-year period.

    Campbell and Alan Klapmeier would have come to a verbal agreement in December 2009. Cirrus' lawsuit only claims failure to make payments from January 2011 onward.

    In other words, whether a verbal contract existed or not, they honored it to the extent the law would require. Once the verbal agreement expired, the written one came into play, and that requires Campbell to make actual payments on the aircraft.

    Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I assume that if Campbell loses the present suit, that establishes that the written contract was valid.

    Hence his push for an out-of-court settlement that does not involve a ruling on the validity of the written contract. With the right loopholes, he can then sue on behalf of ANN without precedent established regarding the written contract. If the judge formally rules that the written contract WAS valid, then Campbell has to appeal to get that ruling overturned before he can continue with an ANN lawsuit.

    From comments made by Cirrus' attorney in the April 25 hearing, it appears that Cirrus' management is well aware of this....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  4. Steve Foley

    Steve Foley Pattern Altitude

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    I sure appreciate the fact that he's willing to lose his home in order to provide me all this entertainment.
     
  5. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Stop me if you've heard this before, but: Looks like the case is settled.

    05/21/2013 Stipulation
    Joint Stipulation to Dismissal with Prejudice

    The question is, of course, whether this was settled Cirrus' way (written releases all around) or Campbell's way (I never agreed to that). Since Cirrus has seemed pretty hard case about needing written releases, and since the judge had sided with them on that issue, the former is probably a pretty good guess.

    The latest hearing in front of the judge was scheduled today...it's possible this was presented to him for approval, instead of the issues previously scheduled (which would be moot if a settlement stands). If this somehow falls through like the two previous attempts, the June court date is probably gone.

    I'll order the papers later this week.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  6. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Joint stipulation sounds like both sides signed off on it. Maybe they allowed Mercer to save face by allowing him to re-draft some of the releases. Given that zoom brought in the agreement between ANN and Cirrus (and probably threatened his multi-million dollar claim for damages off the record), I would be quite surprised if Cirrus accepted anything but unconditional surrender to include ANN ;) .
     
  7. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    Wait! You mean this soap opera might be over? Please say it ain't so. This has been great entertainment. :D
     
  8. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    The judge suggested this at the April 25th hearing, and Campbell's attorney basically dodged the question:

    "THE COURT: Is there any reason why you could not prepare a mutual release that your client would be willing to sign and see if they [Cirrus] would agree to that?"

    "MR. MERCER: There was no bargain for a written mutual release. That was not what was agreed to in the stipulation."

    So the issue wasn't the wording of the release, nor concerns that them slippery city-slicker lawyers hired by Cirrus might slide some pernicious language into the agreement. The problem was the *fact* of a written agreement. And that led to the judge's later comment: "... it leads me to believe that there's some ulterior motive here...."

    Odds are, the ulterior motive was the potential additional litigation the judge then refers to. Another possibility is Campbell was trying to salvage SOMEthing he could use for spin control.

    Right now, he's not in that great of shape, spin-wise. After all the sturm und drang on ANN, the claims he was going to fight it to the end... well, he's meekly handed over the airplane, tugged his forelock, and shuffled off.

    Being able to claim, "Cirrus refused to honor a verbal contract, but were more than willing to accept a verbal settlement agreement" would have let him paint the result in a bit more positive light. As it is, all he can claim is that he didn't have to pay Cirrus' legal costs...but then, no one is paying *his*, either. Quite possibly, not even him. :)

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  9. 3393RP

    3393RP Pattern Altitude

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    Obviously Campbell intended to further litigate the issue by claiming ANN was harmed, hence the efforts to pursue the verbal agreement path. The judge wasn't going to open that door. He repeatedly pointed out that although ANN was mentioned in the verbal exchanges, they weren't a party in the lawsuit.

    The most amusing part of the Mercer submissions were the Motion to Disqualify and the Motion for Sanctions against Cirrus' attorney Johnson. They were simply narratives of Campbell's whining about being treated unfairly (in his estimation) and had absolutely no basis in fact or law.

    Judge Skinner simply crumpled them into a ball and tossed it into the trash. Mercer showed rather poor judgement in allowing Campbell to convert his typical diatribes into a submission to the court. He should be embarrassed that he signed his name to such nonsense.

    I must offer thanks to Ron for providing this entertainment. He obviously spent significant time and money to keep me amused.
     
  10. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Stipulation attached. No details, sadly. But I would say it's over. Be interesting to see how Campbell spins this, if he mentions it at all.

    Ron Wanttaja
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Punzomatic

    Punzomatic Filing Flight Plan

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    Too bad it's over. I was hoping for at least a modicum of public embarrassment for Campbell as he would have undoubtedly attempted to play lawyer while being questioned by Mr. Johnson. Obviously, Judge Skinner wasn't as amused as we were during these proceedings.

    My bet is that he'll still attempt to file against Cirrus as ANN for the breach of the verbal agreement or for some alleged damages to ANN's pursuit of business. Once a narcissist, always a narcissist...he just can't stand losing.
     
  12. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    But he's SO good at it!!
     
  13. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Money? I looked through my records; I did 20 requests for files ($1 a page) with the Clerk's office. Many were relatively short, a couple (in the past several months, with all the deposition and hearing transcripts) in the 50-60 page zone. Average might have been 15-20 pages. Not that bad, spread over nearly two years.

    Might end up springing for some full deposition transcripts; nothing of Klapmeier's testimony made it into the other filings, and, assuming the 21 May hearing with the judge discussed the stipulated settlement, THAT might be interesting, too.

    Time? I'm basically a data analyst who loves his work. On the job, I simulate satellite orbits to generate coverage and mission performance data to determine which orbits best suit given mission parameters. At home, I download NTSB accident data to try to derive the trends of homebuilt aircraft accidents. As a hobby, mind.

    So collecting data to attempt to stitch together SOME sort of coherent story out of this is right in my line, as well.

    And finally, of course, I like to write. I appreciate that POA gives me a forum to add it all together; a place to publicly display my leaps of logic to a collection of kudos, brickbats, and occasional REALLY bad puns....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  14. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If Zoom's random path had instead been an orbit, where would you have projected it would re-enter the atmosphere? :D

     
  15. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    With the trial date so close, I don't think Cirrus would have requested a delay to get the second portion of Campbell's deposition. I think they would have done it live, in court, and let the judge tell Campbell that he had to answer the questions about the NTSB case.

    THAT would have been worth seeing.

    I keep wondering if he'll spring something using yet ANOTHER entity. I'm assuming Campbell signed a release for himself, Kindred Spirit Aviation, and ANN. But, remember his marketing proposal to Cirrus...he wanted the airplane registered in South Carolina.

    Does he have other businesses, registered in SC? Heck, the proposal doesn't even MENTION Florida...not even in the corporate letterhead. Will we see Campbell sue Cirrus in another state?

    Scanning through the marketing proposal, I found one very ironic paragraph:

    "...ANN is willing to perform mutually agreed NewMedia services, at cost for one year, in order to build our business model and utilize Cirrus Design as our "Poster Child" for such future business development.

    "Poster Child" for how ANN treats media clients. Yep....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  16. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Impossible to predict. An eccentricity greater than one, and no Argument of Perigee since he fired it for disagreeing with him.:wink2:

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  17. Steve Foley

    Steve Foley Pattern Altitude

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    I'll admit I got lazy and let you pick up the lions share of the files. I think I got two or three - don't really remember. Most of the time you had them ordered before I knew they existed, so slacked off.

    With that being said, I owe you something. I don't know what I owe, or how it will be repaid, but rest assured karma will come back to you.
     
  18. rainsux

    rainsux Line Up and Wait

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    > ... instead been an orbit ...

    In the early days of the MD-11, crews affectionately nicknamed it, "The Scud." Why?
    Whenever a MD-11 launched, you were never certain where it would land.
     
  19. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    Don't know if it's been mentioned on ANN or not, but I recently spoke with a Zoomie that frequently talks with Campbell. Apparently he's bragging about how he won this court case and put the screws to Cirrus after they tried to screw him.
     
  20. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    I would have expected no less. :)

    I'm writing up a case summary that includes both a basic summary and in-depth details of the convolutions of the past several months. Will post soon.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  21. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Perhaps he stuck them with a hangar bill that hadn't been paid for 12 months or so.
     
  22. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Cirrus’ lawsuit against Jim Campbell and one of his LLCs garnered a lot of interest on POA; over 1,000 postings in the ~21 months from case filing to settlement. One of the fun aspects was the near-real-time reporting of case filings and discussions of the meanings of them.

    However, it’s tough for a newcomer to wade through. Those who happen to find the “Negative ANN article about Cirrus” thread on POA are probably looking for the answer to a simple question: “What the heck happened?”

    This posting is an attempt to provide that information in a single location. You can reference someone directly to it via:

    http://tinyurl.com/mrjvsgh

    Before we start, let me introduce myself. My name is Ron Wanttaja, and I’m one of the 15 people Campbell unsuccessfully sued for “Conspiracy to Defame” back in the ‘90s. Obviously, I can’t claim to be an unbiased observer. However, I will be referring to actual court documents throughout this posting, and if I make a supposition, I’ll try to make that clear.

    Keep in mind, also, that I’m not a lawyer.

    Let’s begin with a brief summary:


    1. The company sued Jim Campbell and one of his LLCs, Kindred Spirit Aviation, for non-payment on the loan on the purchase of a Cirrus SR22. Cirrus’ main exhibit was signed loan documents that commit Campbell to pay $5,500 a month on the aircraft. Campbell claimed his signature was forged.
    2. Campbell claimed that Cirrus had an agreement with ANN in which advertising services were to provide payment on the loan. On ANN on 10 October 2011, Campbell claimed that Cirrus owed advertising bills totaling over $700,000.
    3. The judge rejected the connection between the purchase of the aircraft and Campbell’s claim regarding an exchange for advertising, and refused to add ANN as a participant in the case. None of the loan paperwork filed by Cirrus references ANN.
    4. However, while it was not stated, Campbell was free to have ANN sue Cirrus separately and prepared to do so.
    5. 5. As part of a negotiated settlement in April/May 2013 (20 months after the lawsuit was filed):

    • Campbell gave the airplane back to Cirrus.
    • Campbell and ANN had to release Cirrus from any alleged obligations (e.g., the supposed $700,000 in unpaid advertising).
    • Both sides had to pay their own legal fees (probably $100,000 or more)
    The actual path to the settlement was a long and complex one. The following is an attempt to explain it. Again, I am not a lawyer.

    Cirrus filed suit on 2 September 2011. They sued Jim Campbell as an individual, and Kindred Spirit Aviation, an LLC Campbell had set up to own the aircraft (we’ll call it “KSA”). In the suit, Cirrus claims that Campbell and KSA purchased Cirrus N377R in December 2008 for $359,000. Their main exhibit was a promissory note which required Campbell and KSA to pay $5,500 a month for the next 60 months. It included the usual clauses on what would happen if the payments were not made (e.g., repossession of the aircraft). It is signed with what Cirrus claims is Jim Campbell’s signature. Other exhibits included an aircraft security agreement (also signed), a title search showing Cirrus as the lienholder for the aircraft, and a Guaranty on the aircraft loan.

    (Cirrus’ filing is attached as Ref 1.)

    The case record shows Cirrus had difficulty serving Campbell with the lawsuit, but by the end of October 2011, the case was ready to move ahead. Edward M. Booth Jr. and Sara Jane Carter of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood and Boyer announced themselves as Campbell and KSA’s lawyers.

    They filed a motion to dismiss the case on 25 October. The motion claimed that Aero News Network (ANN, Campbell’s online magazine) was an “indispensable party” and should have been included in the suit. Campbell claimed that Cirrus and ANN had an agreement by which the aircraft loan would be offset by advertising carried on ANN, and that these credits had not been properly assigned to the loan. It asked that the court dismiss the case without prejudice, and that Cirrus re-file with ANN as a co-defendant.

    The filing included one exhibit, a document claiming to represent the alleged agreement between ANN and Cirrus. It is not signed. Nor, for that matter, is it written like a contract… in my opinion, it is written as a marketing proposal. The filing, including the marketing proposal, is attached as Ref 2.

    (An interesting note: The purchase agreement filed by Cirrus is three pages long. The supposed written version of ANN’s verbal contract is twice that length.)

    Early in December 2011, Campbell filed his answers to the Request for Admissions filed by Cirrus. It describes the signatures on the Purchase Agreement as fraudulent; the first indication of the direction his defense was taking.

    The first court hearing, on 3 January 2012, addressed the issue regarding the alleged verbal agreement: Campbell’s attempt to add ANN to the case was denied. This meant that the case would turn solely on the loan agreement filed by Cirrus… which makes no mention of an exchange for advertising. Any alleged ANN agreement was no longer a factor in this suit.

    While it was not stated in the judge’s decision, Campbell, of course, would be free to file a separate suit on behalf of ANN.

    The judge gave Campbell and his lawyers twenty days to respond. The response, on 13 January 2012, took most folks by surprise: The lawyers requested permission to withdraw from the case, due to “irreconcilable differences between the counsel for the Defendants and the Defendants.”

    (Actually, this shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. Over the last twenty years, Campbell has been in about 30 lawsuits. In more than a quarter of them, his lawyers have requested to withdraw. In some of the cases, he went through three sets of lawyers.)

    The judge granted permission to withdraw, and Campbell was given 30 days to find a new lawyer. Twenty-nine days later, Campbell filed a hand-written motion pleading for more time: “Just obtained a copy of withdrawal motion on 3/19/12”.

    Cirrus’ response was scathing. “It is incredulous that Defendants just obtained a copy of the withdrawal motion (filed on January 12, 2013) or the Order (entered on February 21, 2019) on March 19, 2012.” Cirrus filed for a default judgment against KSA only (Campbell could represent himself, but the corporation was required to have an attorney).

    The hearing on the default judgment was scheduled for the 21st of May, but on 18 May 2012, J. Michael Liddell and Roger K. Gannam of Liddell and Farson filed notice that they were now representing Campbell and KSA. Campbell had been given 30 days, but had taken nearly 90.

    Campbell’s new attorneys filed notice that they were calling Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus’ CEO at the time of the aircraft sale, for a deposition in July 2012.

    Curiously, at this point the case record goes silent for four months. Other than some routine material (notice that Klapmeier’s deposition would be videotaped, notification of email addresses), nothing of significance gets added to the case record until the end October…four months later. The Klapmeier deposition apparently did occur, but the nothing about it was added to the case list.

    Later filings claimed there had been failed negotiations for an out-of-court settlement in 2012. It’s possible it was in this period; that would explain the apparent lack of progress. In any case, action resumed on 29 October 2012. One of the filings on that date was the notice that Jim Campbell would deposed in January.

    But barely six weeks later (and a month before the scheduled deposition), Campbell’s SECOND set of attorneys filed for withdrawal: “Defendants have failed to substantially fulfill their obligations to the Law Firm…Furthermore, the Law Firm’s representation has recently been rendered unreasonably difficult by the Defendants.”

    “Obligations,” in this case, probably refer to financial obligations. Campbell was apparently not paying his legal bills.

    There were two other interesting quotes in the motion to withdraw: “Meanwhile, Law Firm has continued to meet Defendants’ interests by … drafting a proposed counterclaim (awaiting clients’ approval to file).”

    Most likely, this was a suit by ANN over the alleged unpaid advertising bills.

    The second told the court that Campbell had apparently known for months that he was losing his attorneys: “As early as 8 October 2012, the Law Firm notified Defendants of their need to identify successor counsel…”

    This might a cautionary action based on Campbell’s hand-written request for more time when his last attorneys left. That request implied that his previous attorneys hadn’t notified their client of the need to obtain new counsel. Liddell and Gannam might have just been establishing that Campbell couldn’t blame them if he were unable to meet the new deadline.

    The deposition on the 4th of January 2013 was cancelled. A later filing by one of Cirrus’ attorneys indicated this was done as a courtesy to the departing lawyers. With Campbell’s attorneys claiming that “representation has recently been rendered unreasonably difficult by the Defendants,” one can see they might not have had their whole hearts into representing Campbell at a deposition.

    The hearing on the motion to withdraw was held on 15 January 2013. The judge granted the motion to withdraw, and gave Campbell just ten days to come up with new representation.

    However, Cirrus’ attorneys were probably expecting the same sorts of delays as the previous time. Two days after the start of the ten-day clock, they re-scheduled Campbell’s deposition for the 6th of February…barely three weeks later.

    Campbell appears to be deposition-shy. On his last major lawsuit, his second suit against Sun-N-Fun, he had been scheduled to depose twice, canceling both times. The fact was cited by the judge when granting the motion for Campbell’s attorney in THAT case to withdraw.

    We don’t know if Cirrus’ attorneys scheduled a fast-turnaround deposition to “encourage” Campbell to find an attorney within the judge’s deadline, so he could fight against the deposition. But if they did, the encouragement apparently worked. Matt Mercer, of Mercer Law filed notice on 25 January that he was now representing Campbell.

    Mr. Mercer immediately filed for a Protective Order to delay the deposition, complaining that the date was unilaterally set (e.g., Campbell was not asked if the date was suitable) and that he, himself, wouldn’t have enough time to prepare.

    In response, Cirrus’ filing said, “It is the undersigned’s recollection and understanding that this Court advised the undersigned that Plaintiff could unilaterally schedule the deposition…” So Campbell’s request for a Protective Order was against an action permitted the judge.

    Campbell’s request for a Protective Order also included copies of emails and faxes that had been exchanged with one of Cirrus’ attorneys, Jason Johnson.

    These exchanges were just lead-ins for a considerable amount of antagonism between Mr. Mercer and Mr. Johnson (one of Cirrus’ two attorneys), antagonism that would build over the coming months. Later filings allege instances of misbehavior on behalf of Mr. Johnson’s actions, usually followed by rebuttals that provided more background on each supposed case. This eventually peaked in a request that the judge sanction (punish) Mr. Johnson (more later).

    In any case, the deposition didn’t happen.

    Cirrus filed a motion that requested that Campbell submit to a deposition within ten days. Both sides filed availability notices for the next several months. Campbell’s attorney scheduled several Cirrus employees for depositions in April.

    A hearing on Campbell’s request for a Protective Order and Cirrus’ motion was held on 26 February 2013. It was apparently not granted; neither was Cirrus’ motion to force Campbell to submit to deposition within ten days. A later filing by Cirrus said the judge told counsel to schedule the deposition within the next thirty days, but there was no court order issued.

    I don’t have a transcript of that hearing, but according Campbell’s lawyer (in a later filing) the judge said that Mr. Campbell “needs to stop monkeying around.” It also stated a claim that Mr. Campbell had left “crazy messages” on the judicial assistant's voice mail. Also, in the exchanges included in Campbell’s request for the Protective Order, Campbell’s attorney write, “I am further concerned about your implying, albeit loosely, that the Court may hold my Client in disfavor or be irritated at my client for one reason or the other…”

    It sounds like the judge might have been getting tired of delaying tactics. If Campbell *had* left “crazy messages” on his assistant’s voice mail, this probably hadn’t helped.

    There was one other interesting outcome in the 26 Feb hearing: Campbell’s attorney had requested that a trial date be set, and the judge did so: A non-jury trial was set for 18 June 2013, less than four months away.

    It required that the attorneys file notice of any Expert Witnesses at least 90 days prior. Thus, a week later, Cirrus filed a Disclosure of Expert Witness. Richard Orsini, a forensics specialist, would be testifying regarding handwriting analysis of the Campbell signature on the loan documents. Cirrus filed a Request for Production to have Campbell supply samples of his signature, both currently, and from around the time period the loan documents were supposed to have been signed.

    Campbell’s deposition was scheduled for 13 March. It started bad (the first 15 pages of the transcript consisted of Cirrus’ attorney trying to get Campbell to state his address for the record) and it ended worse…or actually DIDN’T end. Campbell refused to answer a particular line of questioning, and the deposition was suspended.

    Campbell’s refusal to answer wasn’t gentle. According to the transcript, he told Cirrus’ attorney to “Go to hell” and threatened “I’m calling the FBI and I’m going to have you charged with extortion…”

    Which line of questioning? Dealing with the NTSB hearing, of course. Campbell lost his medical due to mental health issues back in 1980, and appealed the suspension to an Administrative Law Judge (Case SE-4661).

    Why did Cirrus want to discuss this old case? Probably because the main symptom that led to the diagnosis was *Campbell’s inability to tell the truth*. He lied, so much, back then, that FAA psychiatrists considered it indicative of mental illness that affected his ability to fly.

    The only one claiming that Campbell’s signatures on the loan documents were forgeries was Campbell itself…and whether or not to believe him might hinge on whether one thinks he’s still got the personality disorders of thirty years prior.

    Campbell’s attorney filed another motion for Protective Order, asking the judge to, among other things make questions regarding the NTSB case off-limits, claiming they dealt with medical issues.

    Cirrus’ response? They pointed out that the NTSB transcript had been taken in open court (in fact, the hearing was at Campbell’s own request), and the transcript was accessible to the public. Thus, could not be considered private medical information. They also pointed out that the NTSB case had ALREADY been admitted into evidence in at least one Federal Court (Campbell’s first Sun-N-Fun lawsuit), and Campbell had not objected to it, there.

    The weird thing is: When the NTSB case came up in the Sun-N-Fun lawsuit, Campbell handled it quite well. He didn’t refuse over medical grounds, he didn’t curse at the attorney. He had quit logical answers to the question… handled himself well, in fact. Quite different from this case.

    A summary (by yours truly) and the full transcript can be found by Googling “NTSB SE-4661”.

    Another Cirrus filing about the same time contained a bombshell: ”Plaintiff is ready, willing, and able to produce a witness who was present at the time Campbell executed the sued-upon loan documents and who personally saw Campbell execute the same.” So, with Campbell’s word directly contravened by another, the issue of both parties’ truthfulness comes to the fore.

    And remember, Campbell was sued for perjury back in the 90s (he settled it out of court for $25,000). We don’t know if Cirrus had been planning to bring it up after discussing the NTSB case. But it would have probably made sense.

    Cirrus also claimed that Campbell had refused to provide the handwriting samples their forensic specialist needed to determine if the signature on the loan paperwork was indeed Campbell’s. What’s more, the 90-day deadline for notifying the court of Expert Witnesses had also passed, without Campbell’s side identifying a countering forensic specialist who would testify that the signature was a forgery.

    Right about the end of a very busy March, Cirrus filed for its own Protective Order against Campbell. Campbell had filed for depositions from a number of Cirrus employees, to occur on the 4th and 5th of April. Cirrus didn’t object to most of the depositions, but said that one of the individuals named was “…sought solely in furtherance of Defendant’s desire to bring an unrelated action against Cirrus…” Probably, again, over the alleged unpaid advertising. The request for protective order also referenced Campbell not providing sufficient notification of some of the documents the deponents were expected to bring.

    So, as of the morning of 4 April 2013, here’s the status of the case:


    1. Campbell had a lawsuit against Cirrus ready to go. Cirrus claimed that some of the actions taken in this suit were actually intended for use in this other suit.
    2. Cirrus had filed for monetary compensation for the premature ending of Campbell’s deposition.
    3. Campbell had filed for a second protective order, to stop Cirrus from asking questions about the NTSB case.
    4. Cirrus had filed a motion for the judge to compel Campbell to provide the signature samples to their forensic expert.
    5. Depositions for four Cirrus employees (including the current CE0) were expected to start.
    And then…things started getting REALLY weird.

    It started with an announced out-of-court settlement. Which quickly fell through.

    After two Cirrus employees had been deposed on the 4th of April, all the parties (including Campbell and current Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier) got to talking, and decided on a settlement. Campbell would give the airplane back to Cirrus and waive any claims on behalf of himself, KSA, and ANN, and both sides would pay their own legal fees.

    Since they had the court reporter there anyway, they discussed the issues and came to agreement on the record. Cirrus collected the keys to the airplane and its hangar the next night (Friday, the 5th).

    Why would Cirrus settle for just the airplane? Cirrus had spent a lot of money on legal fees. Nominally, of course, they would be awarded those fees upon winning their case. But collecting them would be another issue. The $25,000 out-of-court settlement in his fraud and perjury case never was fully paid; he struggled for five years, eventually paying about $19,000 until the court excused him the rest in 2005. The aircraft probably *was* Campbell’s major asset and they were already going to get that. The case had been going a long time, and there were still over two months until the court date. Settling now would stop the legal expenses.

    There was a court date scheduled on the 9th of April (the following Tuesday) to discuss the various motions that had been previously filed. Since the motions were all moot, they agreed to cancel the hearing and reschedule it for April 25th. A notice of cancellation was posted to the case’s online file listing on the 8th of April.

    But the next morning, all parties were in court. Campbell’s attorney had sent a notice that the judge *would* be hearing motions in the case.

    It was news to the judge. “I was caught off guard,” he said. “When I looked at this yesterday, the last thing I saw was that it had been rescheduled for April the 25th…. What I prefer you do is come back on the 25th when I thought you were going to have your next hearing date so that I can have the opportunity to read what’s been filed up to date.”

    The basic issue: Campbell’s attorney felt that the verbal discussion constituted the whole agreement, while Cirrus looked upon it as a framework for writing the agreements that would close out the case.

    The primary thing Cirrus was looking for…for what should be obvious reasons, by now…was a complete, written release by ANN. Without that, of course, the current lawsuit could be settled, but Cirrus might find itself right back in court again. They had over $100,000 in legal bills already, and a settlement WITHOUT getting buy-off on behalf of ANN would mean the money drain might continue. Cirrus wanted this release in writing

    The relationship between the two attorneys, not good from the start, had seriously crashed by now. In a filing with the court, Campbell’s attorney (Matt Mercer) quoted Cirrus co-counsel Johnson as saying “F@CK YOU, MERCER” and giving him the middle finger. In a response, Johnson claimed Mercer called him an “*******” and a “disgrace to the legal profession” in front of his staff.

    Oh, yeah. These guys didn’t like each other.

    The antagonism came to a head on the 24th of April (the day before the scheduled hearing), when Campbell’s attorney filed a motion for sanctions (punishment) against Cirrus co-counsel Johnson. It was one of the things addressed in the next day’s hearing.

    Which did not go Campbell’s way.

    The motions for sanctions against Cirrus’ attorney was stricken…not just denied, but stricken from the record.

    The judge agreed that ANN would have to supply a WRITTEN release, and the oral discussion on the 4th could not cover ANN. Basically because ANN was not a party to the lawsuit. “There’s a third entity here that is not in the jurisdiction of the court,” said the judge. “So how can I enforce a settlement against ANN when they’re not even a party before my court?”

    Was it a problem with the wording on the release? Why not have Campbell’s attorney write the release, then? The judge suggested that. He asked Campbell’s attorney, “Is there any reason you could not prepare a mutual release that your client would be willing to sign?”

    The answer was, basically, “no”: “There was no bargain for a written release. That was not what was agreed to in the stipulation.”

    A little later, the judge addressed Campbell directly, about his refusal to sign any written release. “…the fact that you don’t want to do it leads me to believe that there’s some ulterior motive here or additional litigation you plan to bring as soon as this case is dismissed.”

    Another court appearance was scheduled for four weeks later, presumably to settle any outstanding motions prior to the trial. The judge said the trial date would be kept…18 June 2013, less than two months later.

    Going to trial wouldn’t be a good move for Campbell. The claim that the signatures on the loan documents were forged would be weakened by Campbell’s refusal to supply handwriting samples. Campbell didn’t even have his own forensic specialist to counter the testimony of Cirrus’. Cirrus claimed to have a witness to Campbell signing Cirrus’ loan paperwork. This would have directly justified questions regarding Campbell’s truthfulness, which would have justified questions about the NTSB case.
    In short, he probably would have lost. He’d already given up the airplane, but the judge would probably award Cirrus its legal fees…well over $100,000. If Campbell *could* pay, it would probably be very damaging. If he couldn't pay, it would probably mean bankruptcy.

    Campbell’s attorney had one last effort: A motion to disqualify the judge. It would mean re-starting the case with, a second chance to fight the admissibility of the NTSB data, garner his own forensic specialists regarding the signatures, etc. However, best guess is that he was probably just positioning Campbell for an appeal, if the case went to trial and didn’t go his way. The judge denied the motion.

    But an appeal would just start the money hemorrhaging again, with no assurance of victory in the end. If the judge allowed questions about the NTSB case, Campbell would also undergo a series of very public, very probing questions about an event he’d rather everyone forgot.

    Instead, Cirrus and Campbell signed a joint stipulation for settlement was filed on 21 May 2013. Did Campbell sign the ANN release? We don’t know for sure, but Cirrus had no reason to accept the settlement, as written, without it.

    In any event, the case was over.

    We think.

    Ron Wanttaja
    June 2013
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
  23. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Just to let folks know: I will be making any corrections or updates to my summary *on the original*, rather than re-posting the entire thing. That way the link always points to the most-recent version.

    I believe that POA members can access the last versions, if desired.

    Edit: I had to organize all the filings in the case to research the summary, and thought some folks would like a single archive of the PDF files.

    http://www.wanttaja.com/filings.zip

    The filenames are organized by:

    YEAR-MONTH-DAY PARTY Short Description

    Where "PARTY" is either "Defendant", "Plaintiff", or "Court", depending on who produced the document.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
  24. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks for taking the time to not only order all the documents, Ron, but also to write the lengthy one-post summary!
     
  25. Steve Foley

    Steve Foley Pattern Altitude

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    Post 587 http://www.pilotsofamerica.com/forum/showthread.php?p=910725&highlight=001186#post910725

    has links to the documents that were uploaded here.
     
  26. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Ron, this guy must have honked you off but good! Remind me never to get on your bad side.
     
  27. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You'll be fine as long as you don't file a frivolous lawsuit against him.
     
  28. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I should only file non-frivolous lawsuits?
     
  29. flightwriter

    flightwriter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I thought this was worth bumping the thread. Ladies and gentlemen...

    You knew this was coming...

    You knew he wouldn't stay silent...

    Jim Campbell vs. Cirrus, the Zoomland version: http://youtu.be/HC_JZ0zMozo?t=10m30s

    (BTW, I love the transition to the story that immediately follows. It is, shall we say, ironic.)
     
  30. PW_Plack

    PW_Plack Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I believe Jim Campbell has taught us all this valuable lesson.

    Good of him to also share it in this commentary.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  31. DaveA

    DaveA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jim Campbell's world: where 'they (Cirrus) even canceled the warranty on my plane' means there's a repo order out for it.*

    Paul, is this editorial in print/blog form somewhere?

    How interesting that this thread comes alive again about the same time Discovery Channel starts airing new episodes of "Airplane Repo".*
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  32. PW_Plack

    PW_Plack Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Dave, not that I've seen. I just transcribed the quote verbatim from the video. I did a quick search of the site and didn't see anything similar in writing. But that doesn't mean much, as it's sometimes difficult to find past content on the ANN site.

    Oddly, Campbell boasts often of being the first/most/best in aviation new media, yet more than a dozen years of ANN content is not showcased as an asset. There's no organized archive for the site. Its search function is crude and frustrating, and yields only the latest 200 results when it does work. That doesn't take you back very far when searching for "Cirrus," and there's no AND function available to allow multiple terms to reduce clutter in the results. It's easier to find past ANN content using Google or YouTube than using any tool on the ANN site itself.

    My first thought was Campbell might not want attention called to turnover in associates. That's possible. I just looked and found at least two "Who Are We?" pages on the site where he continues to refer to me as part of the team, despite the fact I was never an employee and have not been a contractor for a year and a half.

    But it also occurs to me that making it difficult to find archived material could be an extension of what I perceive as Campbell's discomfort with having his past comments or behavior searchable. Despite his commentary's advice to the rest of us to exercise due diligence on "references" and "history," he doesn't appear to appreciate having his own history researched.
     
  33. PW_Plack

    PW_Plack Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That startled me, too, before I even saw your comment!
     
  34. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Could we mix the reality TV thread and this one? I'd watch. ;)
     
  35. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    I'm just a bit surprised it took this long. Campbell decided to settle and returned Cirrus' airplane more than three months ago. After all the hoop-de-do, the final agreement was signed about two months ago.

    Even his most fervent fans would probably agree that Campbell doesn't tend to bottle things up. So why did it take three months for him to finally talk about it? No prior reference, apparently, about the ending of the lawsuit on ANN?

    Several reasons come to mind, but the most likely is that he has discovered that the result of the case has become common knowledge. It certainly has to be embarrassing... after all that public chest-beating about not quitting, he caves in like a peed-on snow-cone and takes a million-dollar paper loss*. He *had* to get his own version out, because the versions making the rounds probably aren't too complimentary.

    Ron Wanttaja

    * Surrendered a $300,000 airplane, released Cirrus from a supposed $700,000 advertising debt, has to pay the fees for five attorneys. Actual losses were his equity in the airplane and the attorney's fees.
     
  36. mikea

    mikea Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Google

    site:aero-news.net Cirrus

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=site:aero-news.net+Cirrus
     
  37. Jim_R

    Jim_R Cleared for Takeoff

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    Dude, he already said "It's easier to find past ANN content using Google or YouTube than using any tool on the ANN site itself."
     
  38. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dude, no one disagreed! Mike just showed the proper syntax to actually do it. Not everyone is a guru in the arcanities of Google-fu! :)
     
  39. Jim_R

    Jim_R Cleared for Takeoff

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    My apologies if it was meant to be a helpful, explanatory post. It came across to me as snarky and condescending.

    A simple link showing the text in the search box plus results, like this, shares the same google-fu info without the condescension of seeing it typed character-by-character with a "Was that so hard?" smart remark at the end.
     
  40. jm0045

    jm0045 Pre-Flight

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