Connect Dots Blog

Reflections on a lawsuit

Post # 1: False narratives

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Commencement address

Unanswered questions

Sometimes after the passing of a loved-one, family and friends are left with unanswered questions.

LS’s children and I were no exceptions.  (Throughout this blog, I will also refer to LS’s children as either the S-Z-W family or defendant.)

I had one primary question:  Did LS keep the promises that he had made?  

I was trying to prove a contract existed. The S-Z-W family had to prove otherwise.

Little did I know, something dark was looming over them. It had nothing to do with me.  It did however have everything to do with their uncle’s revelation about fraud committed by their father.  

What did I know? What had I seen? What did I have?  These were the questions on their minds.

Their father’s CPA, Kenneth G. Smith, based out of Edmonds, WA, had answers to many of their questions.  Whether I knew or had anything incriminating were questions they needed to ask me – all without raising suspicions.  Until they learned the answers, I was a potential threat.

Inside the fog

I was in a deep fog of grief.  Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand this description. Inside the fog, I struggled to see. I was only able to take one step at a time. It was not an ideal way to navigate through a lawsuit where the terrain was foreign to me.

I was outmatched in every way. Two of LS’s children were married to attorneys. In addition, they had inheritance and hedge fund wealth to drag out the lawsuit.    

As defendants, LS’s children launched an awesome offense with loads of questions and demands for documents. The lawsuit offered them cover. They were able to make inquiries and demands without revealing their true motivations and intentions.

One of the attorneys in their family was their lead strategist and conducted most of the depositions. As the lawsuit dragged on, more and more of their actions and false narratives baffled me.  

At the time, I did not have the lens with which to see that concealment of said fraud drove their legal strategy and tactics.

An insignificant witness

Eventually, my primary question was answered in the form a document that LS’s children provided during discovery.

Interestingly, and most importantly, that same document directly refuted their false narrative that I was an insignificant person among other insignificant people who had passed through LS’s life.  

I was confused by this narrative. After all, I had lived with LS in California for a decade. I knew his children. 

I spent time and shared holidays with his daughter, her children, and her husband Mark who works at Farallon.  Like LS, they lived San Francisco. 

I met his son when he still lived in Fremont, CA in the late 1990’s – before he moved to Phoenix, AZ.  Over the years, LS and I also spent time and shared holidays with his son in Phoenix.  I’ve even met every one of his fiancées. 

Yet, the S-Z-W family portrayed and wove into legal filings and depositions the false narrative that I was an insignificant person in their father’s life. It was fascinating and baffling. I recall wondering how they were going to address the disparity between fact and fiction at trial.

As the lawsuit progressed more false narratives emerged. The S-Z-W family began to portray me as dishonest and untrustworthy.  They didn’t just craft these false narratives for me, they did so for other witnesses they had deemed to be a potential threat to them.

Surprisingly, among those witnesses was a couple from Utah. They had known LS for over five decades and had known LS’s children their entire lives. Why were they a threat? The short answer: They were truthful people.  

This couple offered basic testimony such as the length of time they had known me, that they had socialized with me and LS for many years, that I was good to LS, and right before LS’s passing, we had made plans to get together, etc. In short, they contradicted the S-Z-W family’s false narratives of me.  For that, this elderly couple was treated as if they were hostile witnesses.

It was shocking how disrespectfully the husband was treated during his deposition by LS’s in-family attorney. Menacingly and disrespectfully, he reached across the table and grabbed a folder from the elderly witness as the witness was attempting to confirm some dates.  That moment was theater. The attorney’s words, not his actions toward the witness, were captured in transcripts.  The client was made to appear, on paper, as if his testimony was unreliable. And yes, the elderly client was rattled.  Mission accomplished by their attorney. 

How their depositions unfolded and how they were treated was shocking.  I was in tears as I observed.  LS’s son sat stone faced throughout the depositions.  Afterwards, he chatted with them as if his brother-in-law-attorney had interviewed the couple with kid gloves.

I’ll deconstruct some misleading narratives in a subsequent post.  One comes to mind: How to transform a false narrative into a testimony while disguised as a deposition question.  To top it off, the testimony gets documented all while evading the oath to speak the truth. I observed and learned a lot from this lawsuit. I’ll share my learnings with you.

A man without a primary residence

Another major false narrative that was simultaneously rolled out and documented in legal filings and deposition transcripts had to do with LS’s whereabouts. The S-Z-W family employed a strategy of misleading, downplaying, or obscuring LS’s primary residential state of California.  They over-emphasized his business travels which were mostly confined to a few days in Seattle and a few days in Phoenix – once a month, except in the winter.  

If one were to read all the S-Z-W family’s writings in legal filings, and listened to their testimonies on this matter, one wouldn’t know where their father’s primary residence was.

LS’s primary residence was in San Francisco, CA. Although the lease was originally signed in the 1970’s, it became his primary residence in the 1980’s following his divorce from the mother of his children.

LS’s son went so far to conceal his father’s primary residential address in San Francisco.  

He did so by replacing his father’s name with his own name in the public, online, directory.  

It was surprising to see the son’s name in the directory for that address, especially since the son was not on the lease.  Furthermore, in two separate court motions (one to CA Judge Josephine L. Staton, and one to CA Judge John Evans) LS’s son stated:

Paragraph 3: “I am not a California resident. I am currently domiciled Arizona, own a residence in Arizona, and currently have an Arizona driver’s license.”

Paragraph 6: “Likewise, I do not lease or own any property in California and I do not have any California bank accounts.”

Interestingly, one of the S-Z-W family’s attorneys – the non-family member one – informed my team that she had to pull the motion requesting the lawsuit be moved outside of CA. She had been informed by the S-Z-W family’s in-family attorney that LS was in fact a CA resident.

In any event, excessive travel for business, conducting business in WA, owning investment properties in WA, and having a WA-based CPA and attorneys did not make LS a Washington resident.  Even voting in WA through an absentee ballot didn’t make LS a WA resident. He didn’t have a car registered in the state of WA, nor did he possess a driver’s license from there. In fact, for decades he had a Nevada driver’s license – obtained by using a friend’s address.  

From an average person’s perspective, LS was a California resident.  His credit card charges, land line and cell phone activities, his primary residential lease agreement was for a Francisco apartment, the only residential property he owned (in Indian Wells, CA), including his primary relationship with me, all point to California.

For a more precise definition of a CA resident, one would need to visit the CA FTB’s website.

I had loads of unanswered questions during the lawsuit which I’ll cover in the next post, but here are two questions now:

What is wrong with California, in relation to Washington for instance, that would make the S-Z-W family obscure it from their father’s history?

What were Kenneth G. Smith‘s motivations and intentions when he testified under oath that LS was in WA, when LS’s credit card and cell phone activities proved that he was not in WA, but was instead in AZ then CA?

As I had stated earlier, the longer the S-Z-W family dragged out the lawsuit, the longer my list of questions about their false narratives and tactics grew. Practically everything they did or say baffled me. 

If only I had the proper lens, during that time in the fog, to see what their true end game was.

Eventually, three new questions came to mind. That formed the lens I needed. All the dots lined up. Their strategy and tactics during and after the lawsuit finally became clear.

Post # 2 is coming soon…

“Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes,”

Benjamin Franklin

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