It was a hot, smoky room, full of the moneyed elite that seem to live in a universe separate from the rest of us.
This upper crust composed the power that drove that maker of public opinion and destroyer of men: the publishers and editors of The Light.
They were coming down hard on me again.
Me? I’m Charles Kincaid, local attorney.
They firmly believed that since they ran the most widely published daily in Los Angeles County they could force one of my clients, Mickey Corleone, to pay the bills
owed by a company he owns.
You see, The Light had beaten a libel case that Mickey brought when, to no one’s surprise, they printed a story saying that a corporation Mickey owned had connections to
the mob. For the record, I told him not to call it Goombahs R Us.
Those rats at The Light had not only gotten a defense verdict, they had also gotten a sizeable award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Now, they wanted to collect.
And they thought they could give me the third degree in that back room that had no air circulation, made worse by the publisher, Morton Thompson, blowing smoke from
his obscenely fat cigar in my face.
I guess he thought if he made it disgusting enough I’d plead with Mickey to pay just to end this ordeal.
But I had them, or at least so I thought. They could do all of the checking they wanted, but all they would find is that Goombahs R Us had no assets but plenty of debts,
including owing me five grand.
So, I was pretty smug — they weren’t going to get anything out of Mickey personally since the judgment was only against the corporation.
Unfortunately, the mighty Light had a great attorney, Janet Atkins, who also wrote some columns for them.
She was the kind of lawyer who read up on recent decisions and knew how to apply them to her cases.
In her back pocket, she had the recent Court of Appeal decision Misik v. D’Arco. And she was going to use it to snare Mickey into being responsible for the judgment.
Atkins had done her research. As she told me, Goombahs had only one shareholder, namely Mickey.
Mickey was also the only officer, director and employee. He was the only one who could make decisions. Of course the company never held one shareholder or director
The company’s address? The same as Mickey’s home. Heck, the phone number for Goombahs was also Mickey’s number.
The only source of income for the company was from Mickey, who only put in enough cash to pay his lawsuit against The Light. Sometimes he even got a little sloppy
and paid Goombahs’ bills with his own checks or money from other corporations he owned.
These same facts were enough in the Misik case to make Mr. D’Arco personally liable for a judgment against one of his companies. He apparently thought just like
Mickey – all he had to do was form a corporation and no one can touch his personal stash of cash.
Atkins was a lot smoother than Thompson, who hadn’t gotten a thing out of me. All she had to do was point out the similarities between Mickey and the Misik case for
me to see that there was no point in protecting him any further.
He had already done the damage without any help from me. Now he was going to sleep with the fishes (of course, he always had since he lives above a fish market).
Personally I learned from Mickey’s disaster.
All of the mistakes he made, I now tell my clients to avoid.
I don’t want to ever give the publisher, Thompson, the satisfaction of thinking he could make another one of my clients personally responsible for their company’s bills.©