Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Prepping of my testimony continues.

That weekend I departed for New Orleans to attend the ACS meeting , but before I left
Darth informed me that Carl would be joining me to help me recruit the new scientist. Although I had no objection to Carl's presence at the meeting, I did not see what he could contribute in terms of recruiting a scientist. More importantly, I had been looking forwardto spending a few days away from any Gamma influence. I was also looking forward to see-ing some old friends and socializing with them. With Carl there, I would have to modify some of my plans.

The recruiting at the ACS meeting was laborious and exhausting. Most of the
candidates came to the interview thinking that Gamma Supplies, must be located in the New Orleans area and they became quickly disinterested when they learned the job was in Chicago, IL.

Carl showed up for the second and third day of recruiting a demonstrated a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the job at hand. By the end of the third day, I had found three good candidates that I thought were worth actively pursuing. Carl seemed satisfied and he would be leaving on business on the next day. That meant I would get a couple of days to relax and enjoy the professional meeting.

The weekend prior to my scheduled deposition I flew back to Chicago feeling somewhat relieved and freshened. The following Monday when I reported back to work, I was informed by Darth that the Better Supplies' attorneys were going to take a deposition of a Tenneland person located at the Summerfield plant. Darth informed me that he, Dan Gane and I were going to be present during the testimony.

The next morning I was on a plane to Summerfield, Ohio. We met with the Better Supplies attorneys for lunch and then proceeded to an office to await the arrival of the yet unidentified Tenneland witness. My feeling was that Paul Jones, the plant chemist was the man Better Supplies should be talking to, but I knew the witness could not be him because he had been transferred to Atlanta, GA a couple of months earlier. At the time when I was told that Paul had been transferred, I thought that at least in part the reason for the transfer was to make the process of obtaining his testimony difficult.

Robert Graham, the plant manager at the Tenneland Summerfield facility finally showed up to give his deposition. His testimony only lasted a couple of hours and it revealed nothing. He expressed ignorance of everything of real interest to Better Supplies' case, and gave only superficial answers to the questions that he did know something about. The day concluded with Better Supplies' attorneys learning nothing new, and I left thinking Gamma Supplies and Tenneland had pulled another fast one in the legal battle.

Darth and Dan decided I should fly back to Chicago with Dan Gane and then we would drive from the airport together. The time together would give us a chance to discuss our strategy and Dan could prep me for some of the more difficult questions.

During our discussion on the drive from the airport I brought up an example from another Better Supplies' patent that was not directly involved in the litigation. I told Dan thatthe material was very similar to that in Example 12, about which we were concerned, and that due to some differences, maybe that example would work whereas I had not been able to make Example 12 work. No one had ever mentioned this other example, and if Better Supplies' attorneys inquired about that example, it could potentially greatly weaken Gamma Supplies' position which was more and more becoming based on the fact that Example 12 did not work. I was very concerned that Cruz Little would question me on that example, and I wanted some advice as to how to handle that kind of attack. Dan did not answer my questions. If fact, he just ignored me as if he knew that subject would not be brought up. Since Dan had coached me on other subjects, his failure to respond in this instance told me not to worry about it. But I couldn't help wonder why he was not concerned about that example. This was a technical issue at stake and not some legal maneuvering. Since I was
Gamma Supplies' one and only expert technical witness, I had a lot of concern over this second example. But, I could not get Dan to say anything.

One comment that Dan did make bothered me even more. He said he was Gamma Supplies attorney and did not represent me. That sounded strange to me since I was a Gamma Supplies' employee, and he seemed to be saying I was on my own or that I could get my own attorney. Of course, I couldn't afford to do that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Testing My Memory Before My Testimony

Early the next week, Carl came into my office and told me I would be getting an 8%
raise (the same as Buzz and Jeff) which increased my salary to the figure Darth had originally mentioned during myprimary interviews at Gamma Oil. I was not told how the figure was arrived at, but I was given the usual amount of verbal praise and was told how the Clines and Darth thought I was doing an excellent job. I thought the raise, which I was suppose to get back in January being given to me because my deposition in the lawsuit was scheduled in two weeks. If anything, the timing of the raise mad me angry.

Anita and I were getting back on our feet financially, and we had reached a point where we able to save some money. Since we able to live on our combined salaries prior to my raise and since Anita had a tendency to spend “extra money”, I decided to open a separate savings account and deposit the net of my salary increase in the new account without Anita's knowledge. As far as she was concerned, I was still making same salary.

I thought that we should accumulate as much savings as possible for the inevitable change of jobs and relocation. I went to the same bank where we had our checking and joint savings account and opened a second savings account in my name only. I gave the teller my work address on the application and took great pains to explain to her that under no circumstances did I want the new savings statement going to my home address. She assured me that the joint account statement would go to our home, and the new single name account would go to my work address. I left the bank feeling relieved that I did not have to explain my raise to my wife. What I did not realize was that I had so much conflict at work that I was changing my relationship with my with wife to avoid any more stress in my life.

The week prior to my departure to the ACS meeting, we had our fourth management
meeting. I didn't know it at the time, but this turned out to be the most critical meeting I was to attend while I was at Gamma Supplies. The business scenario we were given to review was titled, “Decisions at Zenith Life,” and we were asked to pick from four candidates the man best suited to become president of The Zenith Life Company. Darth came to the meeting and acted out each of the fictional candidates in “interviews”, and then we discussed the merits for each man becoming the new president.

Next, Darth handed out a sheet called “How to Spot a 'Comer'”. The article was a list of thirteen items that managers should look for in subordinates who are to be promoted. The list was the exact same one Darth had read to us in the first management meeting in September. I later checked and found that even the order in my original notes was the same as in the article. At the meeting, I knew we had previously discussed the the items on the list, but I was amazed that no one commented on the fact that we had covered this before. My first reaction was that no one wanted to embarrass Darth, but when no one mentioned it at lunch when Darth was not present, I became baffled. Surely someone else must have recognized that we had covered this material before. What I did not know at the time, was that the purpose of repeating the list at the meeting, was to test my memory. And Darth's absent at lunch was no accident. Had all the induced stress I had been subject to been effective in erasing/altering my memory? Had the programming of my testimony been effective?! The list testing my memory said "yes" as far as my "captors" were concerned.

The afternoon session took on the typical farcical atmosphere that exemplified most of the meetings. Darth spent a couple of hours talking about supernatural acts and mysterious happenings. He went to great lengths telling us about his use of a divining rod to locate water on his land and how he and his brother use to play hide and seek for nickels. One brother would hide a nickel in a house room and the other brother would then locate the hidden nickel by holding a nickel and a bent coat hanger in his hand. The coat hanger would then point to the location of the hidden nickel! Darth of course presented this in all seriousness. Maybe he thought I should hire a mystic for the laboratory to solve the technical problems.

It did not immediately occur to me that there was nothing to show Darth
had lectured at great lengths on the ludicrous and evil (Biblically speaking) topic of mystical forces. I doubt if he learned that subject in business school. I did retain copies of the “Zenith Life” and “Spot A Comer” articles which were legitimate topics for a management meeting. But there was little evidence of the farcical topics we covered at most of the meetings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Strange get Stranger

Darth's reaction to my request for a contract took a strange and totally unexpected
twist. After our conversation, Darth's attitude toward me became childish to the point of being ridiculous. At first, he would just refuse to acknowledge me when I would walk pass him at work.

Then, things at work became more absurd. First, it was customary at Gamma Supplies for the secretary to circulate a birthday card for everyone to sign and then present the card to theto the recipient. On the day of my birthday, I did not receive a card. I knew it was not an oversight because when I joined the company, Chris, the secretary, had called me for my personal data which included my birthday. At that time, Chris explained to me that the data was used for such company rituals such as the birthday card. When I inquired with Chris as to why I hadn't received a card, she said Darth had stopped it.

More direct evidence of my isolation from the Gamma Supplies environment occurred the next day when all the laboratory personnel, the Clines's and Darth attended a dinner and a play which was paid for by Gamma Supplies. The event had been planned a couple of weeks in advance and George Landry, the lab coordinator for the event gave in advance of the event, the tickets for the play and then made sure to point out that Darth had assigned the seating arrangement.

The seating at dinner was random and Anita and I sat at a table with Carl Host and his wife. Darth arrived alone and late, and to my surprise came over to our table and sat down for dinner. The dinner time was spent talking about trivial subjects and Darth gladly chimed in with his opinions. However, he avoided talking directly to me and would not respond to any of my questions directed to him. I just sat there and thought how absurd it was for him to act like that.

After the dinner, we walked to the to the theater where the Gamma' laboratory
personnel sat in the center section of the first two rows, Darth and the Clines sat together in the upper right section of the theater. Anita and I had been given seats by ourselves in the upper center section! We were totally separated from all of the Gamma people. At intermission, some people with seats near the Gamma laboratory personal left and Anita and I moved down to those seats for the second act.

After the play, Jay Wells from Tech Services and his girlfriend, Carl Host and I with our wives went to a near-by club for a drink. During a conversation, I commented to Carl about what a nice time Anita and I had at the Club Tennis Valentines Tennis Party and how it was a shame that he and his wife had been unable to attend. Carl's wife was surprised and turned to Carl and said, “What tennis party were we invited to”?

Carl didn't know what to say and finally after a long period of silence he told her to forget about it and that it wasn't important. But it was important to me it told me that Carl never considered going to the tennis party, and for some reason he was avoiding all none work related social interactions between him, his wife and Anita and me.

In retrospect, the most interesting thing about the evening was my wife's reaction to everything. On the drive home, I said “Did you see how Darth acted toward me?”.

“Yes”, she replied.

“I mean he wouldn't say a word to me”.

Anita said nothing.

“And Carl never did ask his wife about going to the tennis party with us,” I continued.

Again, Anita said nothing. She also never commented on our being separated from
everyone else at the play. Her lack of comments on the situation puzzled me, but it was late and since we were both tired, I dropped the subject.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I was not surprised when Darth quickly agreed with the trip and the plans to
hire someone new since Darth's tactics were always to agree at first and then latter change his direction. Also the ACS meeting was in mid-March and anyone I recruited could not be hired until at least April which was well past my scheduled deposition date. I went ahead and made arrangements and looked forward to the trip to New Orleans.

My second plan of attack was to befriend Carl Host and get his support for my efforts. I wanted to get to know him better so I invited him and his wife over for dinner. He refused with little or no excuse. I then invited him and his wife to join Anita and me at a social tennis gathering at La Club. Carl had told me he played tennis and I thought the invitation would be hard to refuse. Carl said he would check with his wife and then let me know. At last I thought I was making progress. Several days later, Carl informed me that his wife did not want to attend the tennis social. At that point I gave up trying to socialize with Carl and his wife.

My third plan of attack was to press for a long-term contract similar to the one Ravi had. Although the contract would not provide me with any job security, it would provide me with an income should my worse fears be realized and I did have to find another job. Darth's reaction to my request for a long-term contract was predictable. At first he said he thought it would be a good idea and even gave me a small pamphlet on writing an effective contract. This fit the pattern of Darth initially agreeing to something and then latter doing an about face and doing just the opposite. And this time was no exception.

For the next two evenings, I read and studied the pamphlet on how to write an effectivecontract and what to include in such a document. The third day I went in and told Darth that I wanted to discuss some of the items to be included in the contract. Darth was succinct and to the point. “The Cline's and I feel we should be able to walk in and fire anyone on a moments notice. There will be no contract.” End of conversation!

I left Darth's office wondering what ever happened to their elegant firing procedure that Darth had spent a half a day outlining at the previous management meeting. Of course, by now I was accustomed to double standards at Gamma Supplies. There was on set of rules and conventions that applied to everyone else and a separate set of rules that applied to me. Their failure to negotiate a contract with an employee who they were counting on for the future of Gamma Oil confirmed what I already knew. My job was solely to assist in their legal battle with Better Supplies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book publisher wanted!

Darth's January testimony had raised some questions about our technical defense
against Better Supplies. Since Ravi's deposition never materialized and my testimony had been postponed until late March, it gave me time to do some work on the technical issues which were still no solidified. Two prominent issues had surfaced.

First, in one of the Better Supplies' patents involved in the litigation, there was an example of a phenolic resin which was made by a process very similar to the one Gamma Supplies was now using and it was possible that the material itself was very similar. We had to establish that the material in Better Supplies' Example 12 of the patent did not work as well as our material. Example 12, as we referred
to it, would become more and more critical to the Gamma's case as time went on. The second problem was a result of a statement Darth made during his depostion. He had claimed that in early 1976, one batch of phenolic resin had worked exceptionally well and he thought it might have been accidentally the same as the phenolic resin I had subsequently developed. Although this had little effect on the immediate litigation, it meant that I had to get a patent application filed as soon as possible. I also started working on the that application immediately.

The easiest way to remove the concern about Example 12 was to reproduce the work
that Better Supplies had reported. This required that I go back into the laboratory, make the phenolic resin as described in the patent and then evaluate it. I was not looking forward to going back into the laboratory. First, Buzz was always giving me a difficult time over one thing or another, and John and Jeff contributed to a hostile environment. In addition to the difficulties with Buzz, my perceived conflict with Jim hadnot subsided. This fact was reinforced by Jay Wells who informed me that John had made the remark, “Russ is going to pay for Ravi being fired”. And my situation was not helped by the fact that Ravi still came in and used his office from time to time and always held visible conference with John. The high visibility of all of the hostility made me wonder why no one seemed to care about the situation. Despite all of the distractions, I still managed to work on Example 12.

I was concerned about Example 12, because from what I knew about the chemistry
involved, I could not see why the phenolic resin described should not work. John had informed me he had tried to make Example 12 work, but was not successful. Since I was aware of Joohn's propensity to massage and slant data, I was still uneasy about the material in Example 12. Still, there were some differences between the material in Example 12 and the phenolic resin I had developed. I spent several weeks carefully following Better Supplies' directions, but I could not get the critical final results which they had reported. In essence, Example 12 did not work as reported. I was relieved and not totally surprised since patents will frequently contain fictitious examples just to cover and protect against all possibilities.
Since Example 12 was one of only two of its kind in the Better Supplies patents under question, I believed that this might be the case here.

By now I was fully convinced that my only purpose at Gamma Supplies was to provide a technical base and testimony to defeat the Better Supplies' patents. I decided to push for as many concessions as I could get before my scheduled testimony. The first thing I wanted to do was to add a new person in the laboratory to break up the John, Buzz, Jeff cabal and to upgrade the technical abilities in the laboratory. To that end, I requested that I attend the ACS meeting in March and recruit a new chemist since I was suppose to be “building a laboratory".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sudden Policy Reversal

My question about whether Darth was aware that I knew he had perjured himself had been answered, but equally important was his reaction to even my slightest suggestion that I knew. Given Darth's lack of character and given his strong reaction my comment evoked, I felt like I was talking to a Mafia Don rather than my boss and a partner in the legal battle against Better Supplies. Actually, I wasn't afraid of Darth, but I was becoming fearful that I was involved in a nefarious scheme being run by some really powerful people. And I didn't know who those people were. As we continued down the hall, I was still thinking about Darth's reaction.

I barely had time to get back to the lab and think about what had transpired
when it was time to attend the next management meeting. The third meeting was held at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club and served as a mid-winter break from the rigors of Chicago winters. The meeting was suppose to center on a scenario of the self-made man who had been a successful in the business and financial worlds and who was a hard line conservative. Mr. Haws, as he was called in the story, was a true believer in the malevolent dictatorship, and he acted totally in a very short term manner. Darth embraced his techniques, which was a complete reversal of our first meeting when Gamma Supplies was presented as a long term, people oriented company.

We only spent a short time on the analysis on the Mr. Haws' techniques before went on to the subject he really wanted to talk about; firing employees. Darth went great lengths to detail the procedures which had been reportedly used to terminate a Gamma Supplies' sales rep from Louisiana. The procedure called for making Darth aware of the problem and then having him and the Clines review the situation. Finally, they would observe the person and make the decision. The bottom line was that no on but Darth Korey could decide to fire anyone. This seemed reasonable to me, but I couldn't help but wonder why he went to such great lengths to emphasize it.
What the Darth firing procedure meant is that I could not take any corrective actions in the laboratory because I had almost no say or power in terminating anyone. It had already been established that I had no say in determining personnel salaries. So, despite all of the showy announcements in the lab., I had absolutely no power.

On the plus side, since the firing procedure had been made a policy at the management meeting, Presumably no one else had any power in firing someone. This laborious review procedure did not fit into what one salesman had termed Gamma Supplies revolving door policy. Other that providing some time away from the lab in a nice atmosphere, the meeting was just another of a series of disappointments.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let the perjury begin.

Chapter II

'The great masses of the people .................will more easily fall victim to a big lie
than to a small on. - Adolf Hitler

In late January Darth gave his deposition. It was held in downtown Milwaukee in the offices of a local law firm. Carl Host and I attended along with Gamma Supplies' attorney Dan Gane from a Chicago law firm. The Better Supplies' lawyers were Cruz Little and Barry Champs from a Dayton law firm. Gamma Supplies was too small of a corporation to have in-house lawyers and the federal judge presiding over the case in Chicago's United States District Court had made a ruling early in the case that Better Supplies could not have their in-house attorneys to handle the case because there was to be an exchange of proprietary and confidential technical material in the case. Therefore both sides had hired outside council. That decision had been a major victory for Gamma Supplies because it limited Better Supplies ability to carry out an effective technical attack on Gamma Supplies' position. At the time of the that decision, I thought Gamma Supplies had been extremely fortunate to have won such a ruling and I was to later learn it was crucial in the course of the trial.

Darth arrived late as usual. I had not seen Darth for several weeks and I was a bit surprised when he came in the room looking very tan and wearing a very business-like three piece, blue pin-strip suit. His attire was quite different from his usual ski sweater and cleated cowboy boots that he wore around the office. I was also curious as to where he had gotten such a deep tan. As I sat there and listened to him give his deposition, I laughed to myself because it was such a fabrication that it was ridiculous, but it was the story line which had to be pursued to win the legal battle. The first day ended and Darth, Dan and I all agreed things had gone well, but we knew there were still a few items that needed to be gone over for the next day.

During the second day of questioning, Cruz Little asked the one question I had been waiting for.

Little: “There's no joint venture, anything like that between Gamma and Tenneland

Darth: “Mm-mm”*

Little: “It's just a manufacture-customer relationship?”

Darth: “Right”

Darth's first answer was barely audible, but it was still a “no” and then Little let him off the hook with the perfect follow-up question. What luck!

When noon rolled around we all decided to take an hour for lunch and then reconvene. At that point Cruz Little, Darth and Dan Gane asked me to leave the room while they chatted. I felt the request was a little unusual, but I dutifully left. As I closed the door behind me I stood there in the hallway and contemplated ease dropping on the conversation going on in the room. I wondered what could be so important that I couldn't hear it. After all, this was a legal proceeding. I decided to head to lunch, but to this day I wish I had listened
* The first transcribed copy of the deposition shows Darth's answer to the first question to be “Mm-mm.” The official version shows it to be “No.”

The second day of testimony delved into the technical aspects. Mr. Little asked Darth to draw some chemical structures on a piece of paper which could be included in the deposition. Darth scrawled some crude structures on the paper as if he were barely aware of what had been going on in the lab. Darth had a B.S. Degree in chemistry, he had worked in and had been in charge of Gamma's lab for over ten years and I had given him detailed reports with structures on my work. We had discussed the structures, and now he was acting like a novice and as if he had never seen the structures before. I was concerned he was overacting. I was also beginning to wonder if Darth thought I didn't know what he was doing. After all, he had such a condescending attitude toward everyone. I decided for my own good, I had better find out.

Following Darth's testimony that afternoon, he, Dan Gane and I packed up the
documents and proceeded to leave the building. There was a sense of relief that the grind of two days of questioning was over. I jokingly said, “Darth, from the looks of those structures you drew, I'm going to have to teach you some organic chemistry.”

Darth stopped, turned and glared at me, and with a slightly red face said, “you better watch your step, BOY!” There was heavy emphasis on the BOY. Apparently there was no longer a need to explain things like the building fences lecture he gave me in our first meeting.