Poisoned by Jeff Benedict

Poisoned by Jeff Benedict

Author:Jeff Benedict [Benedict, Jeff]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780988797949
Publisher: February Books

22

FOUR-SEASONS JUSTICE

AT THE END OF MARCH, RONI AUSTIN FILED A WRONGFUL-DEATH SUIT against Jack in the Box in Superior Court in San Diego. Bill read a story in the Seattle Times reporting that the family of Lauren Rudolph had sued Jack in the Box. “The evidence in our case is irrefutable,” attorney Robert Trentacosta was quoted as saying.

An idea popped into Bill’s head: If the outbreak started in San Diego and caused the death of Lauren Rudolph, I should be talking to her attorney.

He tracked down Trentacosta’s number and called him. After a lengthy introductory conversation, Bill invited him up to Seattle. “We should coordinate our efforts,” Bill said.

Trentacosta liked the idea and said he’d make travel arrangements.

At the same time, Bill got a message on his voice mail from Piper. “Marler, I can’t believe you are stupid enough to have a password that is 1-1-1-1,” Piper told him.

Bill stopped to think. It dawned on him that after three years he’d never gotten around to setting his own password. His phone still had the password assigned to it by the factory. As a result, Piper had hacked into his voice mail. Laughing, Bill called him and gave him hell.

Then Piper told him why he had called. Behind the scenes, he had been talking to Jack in the Box officials and had convinced them that the company’s interests would be far better served by hiring a private judge to focus exclusively on their case. The idea made a lot of sense. Judges have lots of cases on their dockets, a fact of life that makes the wheels of justice turn slowly at the courthouse. This worked against Jack in the Box’s interests. The company needed to put the outbreak in the rearview mirror as soon as possible. Ideally, that meant moving the class-action litigation outside the courts altogether and finding a nonjudicial vehicle, such as having a special master preside over the case.

Washington law had a provision that authorized the presiding judge in a lawsuit to appoint a special master—often known as a judge pro tempore—to come in from the outside to preside exclusively over a single complex case. Piper had just the man in mind—retired judge Terrence Carroll. Judge Carroll had been a distinguished Superior Court judge who recently left the bench to join a private mediation and arbitration firm. More important, Piper knew and trusted him.



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