It started almost 15 years ago as a lawsuit against Rick Ross, Morris Sutton and his wife, and their daughter, Stephanie Franco. Over the years, it added several other defendants.
But now, after almost 15 years of motion filing, lawyer changing, venue moving, and other delaying tactics, everything has bee dismissed or resolved except for NXIVM’s complaint against Franco for breach of contract and Franco’s cross-claim against NXIVM and Nancy Salzman for violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and New York’s General Business Laws.
That trial is now scheduled to start on Tuesday, February 6th.
On December 19, 2017, NXIVM lawyers asked the Court for an adjournment of the trial that was then scheduled to start on January 17, 2018, because NXIVM attorney Robert Crockett had emergency eye surgery. They asked that the trial be adjourned until early February.
The Court denied the request.
On January 10, 2018, the Judge indicated the parties should be prepared for trial unless one of two things happened:
(1) NXIVM entered a voluntary dismissal of their complaint against Franco; or
(2) NXIVM filed a sworn statement on behalf of Nancy Salzman, where Salzman swore that neither she nor anyone from NXIVM would appear at trial.
The judge indicated that NXIVM would be hard pressed to go to trial without witnesses.
Franco said that if NXIVM agreed to dismiss the case against her, she would drop her cross-claim against NXIVM and Salzman.
The following day, Salzman signed an affidavit saying she would not testify at trial on January 17th and that no other NXIVM representative would testify either.
Salzman acknowledged she understood that, by submitting her affidavit, NXIVM’s claims against Franco would be dismissed.
NXIVM advised the Court that it would not proceed with trial because Crockett could not appear.
On January 17th, the Court decided to give Crockett time to recover from eye surgery and set the trial date for February 6th.
In setting the trial date for February 6th, thereby allowing Crockett to appear, Judge Katharine S. Hayden might be making the case appeal-proof.
Franco’s lawyers argued the case should be dismissed and that Crockett’s eye injury was a subterfuge because no one from NXIVM could appear at trial since the company and its chief officials are under federal criminal investigation.
Franco’s lawyers have made a pending motion to dismiss.
It remains to be seen if Salzman or any NXIVM official will testify at trial. If they do not, the case likely cannot proceed and will probably be dismissed. But the court could also grant Stephanie Franco’s cross-claim – and even require NXIVM to pay for all her legal fees and expenses.
So, after 15 years of “getting ready to fight”, will NXIVM show up for the battle – or just slink away like the legal bullies that they are? Given that any of NXIVM’s witnesses could be asked all sorts of questions about the organization’s alleged illegal activities, I think we all know what’s going to happen next week…NOTHING!