A Perry Mason Moment

In a construction case, we represented the owner in arbitration against a contractor who had overbilled the project and then blamed our clients for the overruns. Here is part of the cross-examination:

Q: And you didn’t mind swearing that that was the case, even though you knew it wasn’t?

A: Absolutely. I’m wrong. But again, I thought I was going to get paid. I know, sometimes you do things you don’t want to do, but you need to get paid. I was being promised I was going to get paid. I felt comfortable. I believed him—I believed the group.

Q: Your oath means nothing to you if you would need to get paid. Is that what your testimony is?

A: What do you mean, my oath means nothing to me?

Q: Your oath in these draw statements means nothing to you in the face of needing to get paid. Is that what your testimony is?

A: My intention was to finish the project—

Q: No, just answer my question: Your oath meant nothing to you—

A: It still meant I was—

Q: —if you need to get paid?

A: Wrong, because my intention was to pay—if I had gotten delivery of the elevator and I owed the elevator, the money would have come out. So no, it didn’t mean it. If I had taken $30.00 today and owed it tomorrow, I would still owe the $30.00.

Q: These draw statements are false, you are saying, and your only defense is that Mr. R. told you to falsify them.

A: They are not false. I took money against the elevator, and I used that money to pay their debt with the intention to get replenished from your clients later on in the project.

Q: So when you wrote to the bank that the line item was for elevator stuff—

A: I lied.

 

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