Erasend wrote the following in response to Clyne, Dr. Roberts, and Dr. Porter File Letters With Court in Civil Case – Saying They’re Broke and Have No Lawyer.
Note: Below is about this specific trio – Nicki Clyne, Brandon Porter and Danielle Roberts. It is not about the Bronfman sisters and others as I know many will just go “but the sisters are rich and so and so has money hidden.”
I am theorizing in the realm of what is known, which is these three are broke. Theories on their hidden wealth are not relevant unless they can be proven in court.
So what are the court’s options here?….
My best guess is this would be treated like any civil case where the other side doesn’t put up a defense and a summary judgment would be issued. This would be issued by the judge, not a jury, but often whatever the judge issues is based on what the other side is demanding (but judges do have latitude to reduce the amount).
The judge could try to keep the three lumped in with the others but that is likely untenable.
Besides the financial differences, the Bronfman lawyers likely would rather not have three new bosses who are not paying them, and probably with loads of conflicts of interest involved to boot.
This is an interesting gamble the three are making. A smart one too. For them, there really is no point in trying to fight this. They gain nothing but soul-crushing debt no matter how it goes. Getting through a jury trial is super expensive, especially one that will be incredibly complex like this one. The costs per person probably would be at least $250,000 each and that is lowballing it (~$500 to $1 million might be closer).
Juries are fickle beasts and when they decide someone should pay, they tend to go into overkill mode mostly because juries are human and humans are greedy and they go, “If I was them, I would want enough money to never have to work again” and award accordingly.
So, in effect, the trio is deciding not to fight and let the chips fall how they may. Assuming summary judgment, depending on what the judge decides, it could make or break their financial future. Weirdly, the higher the amount “rewarded,” the better off it will be for them.
Generally, the courts do not force people to sell everything they own just because they lost a lawsuit, but they are expected to work on restitution in some form, usually a payment plan against their paychecks (think of it as a paycheck tax for the rest of their lives if the amount is high enough).
But scale makes a difference. A world of difference between being forced to pay back say $100,000 and $100,000,000 or more.
$100k is an achievable restitution debt to pay back (and cheaper than a lawyer). $100 million is so high that it’s pretty much assumed that it will be unrecoverable. Also so high that even if plaintiffs try to force repayment, if I was those three, I wouldn’t even bother to get a job. Why labor to achieve an unachievable goal. It is easier to find under-the-table jobs and just let the plaintiffs piss money away on lawyers demanding money that doesn’t exist.
Scale will also impact those with money (referring to the Bronfman sisters and others). Winning big has a rather considerable side effect of making it worthwhile to appeal and delay for as long as the courts allow (which can be measured in many years). Paying their lawyers to kick the can is cheaper than paying a $100 million judgment.
There is an excellent chance that the plaintiffs could win a jury trial and win so big that any payment could literally be a decade away. By then, the Bronfman investments would likely have accumulated enough money to effortlessly pay off the amount without actually hurting them…
They could set aside a $25 million “what if we lose” fund, start investing it now and in 10 years or whatever when appeals are exhausted, hit up that fund to do restitution and probably still have plenty left in that fund.
The net effect would be no loss of money because of the lawsuit. Always remember, the rules are different for the rich…
I point this out because, behind the scenes, there is a poker game going on. The goal is to maximize the payout while minimizing losses by both sides.
A “win” doesn’t mean a thing if the plaintiffs can’t recover the money and a loss doesn’t mean a thing either if the defendants can delay things indefinitely. It’s why ultimately I think this case will be settled out of court.
The costs of trial are simply too high for all sides both emotionally and financially. By emotionally, I refer to the plaintiffs. If I was the Bronfman lawyers, my primary “defense” would be a highly aggressive offense, relentlessly attacking the credibility and character of every single plaintiff by simply forcing them to admit on the stand over and over and over how they participated in the same behavior they are now suing over, while tossing in the many factoids that Keith Raniere et al had to have learned via collateral.
Shoot some of issued books that will help with this. It would also have the impact of destroying the Bronfmans’ character and credibility too but they really don’t have that anymore anyway and besides being rich (the rules are different…) means they can get all that restored with a paycheck to a college and a few PR articles.
My take is if this goes to trial, the plaintiffs will lose even if they win. As for the trio (depending on what the judge does), they may have accidentally stumbled on to the best move – “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”