Thursday, August 16, 2012

Should I Settle?

     My lawyers have proposed a solution to the state of limbo in which I've been living since the FBI raided my clinic and bank accounts last year.  The solution is settling.
     Not that the government has suggested such a thing.  The government hasn't been talking--at least not to me.  They're talking all around me--to clinic employees and ex-employees, patients and ex-patients.  I feel like the weird person in the lobby at intermission:  everyone else is animated,  talking in groups,  talking to one another, not me--I'm blinking and holding my drink in the middle of it all.  Why do the feds act as though I'm invisible?
     What's even more alienating is that I'm the one they're talking about.  Don't they know I'm here?  Don't they know that I can hear everything they're saying?
     "Settling" is a way of talking that is supposed to bring about a resolution.  More likely it brings about a state of depression.  Unfairness is like that.  I think "settling" must have been invented by lawyers, because it gives the defendant a choice between bad and worse, and it costs a lot.  The reason people like me are advised to "settle" a dispute is because they've been convinced it will cost a lot more not to settle.  But what's the dispute?  Shouldn't that be clarified first?
     Usually two parties in a conflict end up "settling" after allegations have been tendered.  Then, as a way of capitalizing on the smarmy situation, one party suggests a settlement.  The other party may agree because it seems like the quickest and easiest way to get back to regular life, even though it means forking over a hefty sum of money.  "It costs you a settlement fee, but it'll save you court costs and legal fees--and a whole lot of time," is the logic.
     Therefore, one day my lawyers suggested a settlement.  It didn't seem to matter that there aren't any allegations in my case--no charges, no crime, not even a case, for that matter.
     "What exactly would I be settling?"  I asked.
     "Well, I don't know," one of them said.  "But you've got to offer something."
     "Offer something for what?"
     "For whatever it is they're keeping secret."
     "Shouldn't we wait until it's no longer a secret, so I know how much I'm willing to pay to make whatever it is go away?" I asked.
     "Maybe not," said the other lawyer.  "It might be better just to go ahead and settle."
     I thought about the ramifications of doing this.  Was it possible that my lawyers couldn't see that solutions like this engender more conflicts, crying out for more settlements?  (Think of the bully who needs cash and threatens to beat up a little kid for it.  Or the kidnapper who holds someone hostage and demands a payoff.  What's it going to take for the kid to keep from getting beaten up, or for a Charles Lindbergh to get his baby back?  A settlement?)
     "If I settle," I asked my lawyers, "without any idea about what the feds think I did wrong, won't that encourage them to do it again, and again?  Isn't that an easy way for the government to rake in money?"
     "I know it doesn't seem fair," the first lawyer answered.  "But it's what most people do."
     "You mean, most people turn over money without a clue about why they should have to do it?"
     "Sort of," the lawyer explained.  "But you have to understand that most people are guilty."
     "Guilty of what?"
     "We never really know, because the cases are settled.  But they must know they're guilty of something, and they don't want it to ruin their reputations--that's why they settle."
     "But I'm not guilty," I told them.  "Why should I settle if I know they don't have a case against me?"
     "It might save you a lot of time and trouble."
     "Whose side are you on, anyway?" I asked.  I was wondering if they thought I had something to hide, something I hadn't told them.
     "We're trying to help you," they said.
     "But you're telling me the feds should be able to raid my office, take the capital, damage my reputation--without cause--and now I'm supposed to pay them off?"
     "I guess you could look at it that way," the lawyer told me.
     "Don't you think a solution like that should be illegal?" I suggested to him.
     "It's usually how things are done," he answered, adding, "and it saves the court system a lot of money."
     "It won't save me any money, I countered.  "It will cost me.  What about my rights?"
     "Of course--you can argue the case in front of a jury, if that's what you want.  But it's not cheap.  And even if you win, you won't get legal fees.  Not in cases like this."
     "Not to mention how many years it will take," the other lawyer chimed in.  "Most people don't think it's worth it."
     My blood pressure must have been rising, because suddenly my face felt flushed.
     "How much were you thinking we should 'settle' for, given that we have no clue about the government's so-called case against me?" I asked them both.
     "We were thinking you might want to let them have what they've already taken out of your bank accounts."
     "You mean,  the $400,000 they took one day last August?"
     "Something like that."
     I was trying to follow the stream of logic which they seemed to take for granted.  "Are you telling me I should let the government have $400,000--in exchange for getting them to close a case on me that isn't even open?"
     "It's open for them," they reminded me.
     "But it's 'sealed'--no one knows what they're doing.  Not even you."
     They looked at me with neutral faces.  I realized they were probably bored.
     "Is it possible that if I settle, the government could then open another case on me--and start the travesty all over again?"
     "We would do everything possible to prevent that," they said.
     "But it could happen?"
     "Well, yes, I suppose so," they both nodded.



  1. That's ridiculous!!! Don't even THINK about settling!!!!

  2. 這樣不行!別做這樣!這樣的政府都對你不好!!!別和解!!!!