All the Experts Agree
Baxter called us after the fourth pretrial hearing, held February 10, 1988.
"The Judge was very sympathetic," he said. "He was really moved by what he saw last month. In fact I think he's trying to be very careful, so as not to appear biased. He's a very straight judge."
"What did Pierce and the others have to say?" I asked.
"Nothing, really. They were almost silent. I think there's been a break in the case."
"Why is that?"
"Two reasons. First, Banks has really added a dimension to the case. The second reason is Noble's survey. That's something they can't ignore."
"Then why aren't they making an offer?"
"We have another pretrial coming up. In fact the Judge wants to meet with you and Ruth on March 8. I'll need a complete break-down of your total expenses to date, and also an update on the appraisal of the house."
Baxter wanted to be ready to present the total dollar amount needed to "make us whole."
"Do you think they'll still go to trial?" Larry and I thought they would. Legal fees are maximized when you go to trial.
"Yes, I do," he agreed. "There probably won't be any attempt at settlement until the trial starts."
After the fourth pretrial hearing Baxter made what seemed at the time a smart move. He arranged for all the experts to meet at his office to explore just the structural problems and look for areas of agreement. He reasoned it would be better to find out ahead of time what everyone agreed to, if there was in fact agreement.
The experts' meeting took place February 18. Present were:
None of the attorneys were in the room when the discussions took place. Following the meeting Banks sent out a detailed memoran-dum to all participants, listing the items agreed upon by everyone, including the defendants' experts. Excerpts follow
So our house was a design/construction disaster and would require major rebuilding. How can the layman, the non-architect, non-builder, non-engineer, appreciate what went wrong? It certainly took us a long time to understand how they screwed up. Below is a schematic of two basic structural problems discussed by the experts. Add to these two defects many other construction mistakes, and you can begin to understand our crooked house.
Although the experts agreed on the major structural defects and basic methods of repair, a dollar cost was not discussed. That was not the purpose of the meeting. What would the defendants say now? That our house was quality-built? One of their "stronger designs?" And would they now make an offer to repair it? And if not, why not?