Legwork received an assignment in March 2008, to effect service of a Deposition Subpoena on Ricky Hutchinson, last known to live with his parents in Northern California. The deposition was set to take place in a month, at the office of a court reporting agency in Sacramento.
The reason we want to take Hutchinson’s deposition is that on his very first day of employment with a car dealership (also fired the first day after this incident), he allowed a young female, a minor, to test drive a brand new 2009 vehicle, and during this test drive this minor female caused a collision by broad-siding another vehicle, a woman in a brand new BMW. No injuries by any parties, just vehicle damage.
The BMW woman hires an attorney and sues the female minor and the car dealership. I am working for the defense. This minor is covered under her mother’s vehicle insurance policy.
In taking Hutchinson’s deposition, it can be determined exactly what happened, ascertain our real liability for settlement issues, and to determine liability on the part of Hutchinson or the dealership.
Sounds simple enough, this is what insurance is for, accidents do happen and this is not a catastrophic situation, just a simple legal routine, get the facts, write a check and settle this thing.
As far as the dealership – their lawyers deny any liability stating it’s not their fault “stupid employees allow minors to test drive new vehicles”. The lawyers pretty much say this using legalese in their pleadings. Ricky Hutchinson states he was never told this specific policy by any management at the dealership.
I originally figured that serving this subpoena on Hutchinson was going to be a slam dunk because he was not an actual defendant (only the dealership was named in the lawsuit) and he was going to be a nice-honest-young-responsible adult who will want to assist everyone in settling this matter.
So I thought.
So I thought.
Ricky Hutchinson, 21 years old, appears to be living in a high-end neighborhood of Sacramento, living with his parents. I visit the parent’s residence and no one was home, there was a scooped up nice sports car out front, but that’s all. I leave this residence for now and go be-bopping into the dealership where Ricky used to work. I have no intention of talking to any management personnel as they are being sued, and they wouldn’t talk to me anyway. The idea here is to find some young salesman or mechanic, who WILL talk, and just ask them if they know where Hutchinson is working now.
I walked around the dealership, without any legal papers in my hand as I am just there to get some information. Outside walking around the car lot I find one of the salesman named Rob, and in speaking to him, I find out he is Ricky’s brother-in-law.
Rob stated Ricky is not working now, is going to college, recently got married, and he is now living down the street from his parents, but he had no idea what his address was. Rob was willing to give me Ricky’s cell phone number, and after jotting this down, I left quickly before the dealership management got wind of what I was doing there.
A few minutes later, I called Ricky on his cell phone (still thinking this was going to be a slam-dunk). He answered his cell all upbeat but as soon as I told him who I was and what the deposition was about, man, was he hostile. He just started yelling and using profanities, more or less stating it’s all the dealership’s fault for not telling him minors could not take test drives in their vehicles. He was talking so fast it was hard to keep up with him; he went on and on about it being his first day on the job and this was bullshit. I tried to calm him down but he was just being a little prick. I told him that as a witness, we needed to take his deposition to resolve the case so everyone can go on with their lives. He remained hostile the whole time so I had to end the conversation by telling him he can accept this subpoena the easy way or the hard way. He said, “not my problem” and hung up on me.
But it is his problem.
I didn’t have his new apartment address, so for a week after this cell phone conversation, I made attempts at the parent’s house and there never was a response, even with vehicles in the driveway. I figured Ricky told his parents I was after him so they decided to support their arrogant son and refuse to answer the door. I just kept going back to send a message to his parents - I wasn’t giving up.
I needed to verify if Ricky and his new wife actually lived with his parents or live in their own place. By submitting an address request from the post office, we learned the post office had no new address. As his brother-in-law stated, Ricky lived down the street from his parents, but you never know who’s lying so checking out every detail is crucial and lessens your chances of getting jacked around. Confidential databases were consulted showing that Ricky listed no new address as yet, only his parent’s address. Ricky’s cell phone number was also traced showing this to be under his father’s name and address, so no luck there.
Since we were getting no response from the only address we had, we had to search other ways to find him. Social sites were searched such as Facebook, My Life, Classmates and My Space. I was glad to find a little information; Ricky and his wife were found on My Space. They were married on January 19, 2008; both attend college and are members of some school associations. The site said they recently visited Europe after they married, and as an added bonus, there was a picture of both of them so at least now we had physical descriptions for them. Some actions were taken in locating Ricky and his wife on campus but this did not work so another plan was needed.
I continued to leave nice phone messages for Ricky on his cell just so he knew this is not over. I told him he needed to be a standup guy and call me. This resulted in no return calls, which I expected.
Sub-Rosa and stakeouts were now necessary. I tried the nice and simple way but it was time to up the ante. First, I staked out his parent’s house on a nice early morning, sitting in my vehicle from 7:00 AM to 11:30 AM, watching and getting an idea of who comes and goes when at 8:30 AM, I observed the mother leave for work in her BMW SUV. Then a while later, I observed a female, not Ricky’s wife, but maybe a sister, leave the house with school books and drive off in her vehicle. At no time did we see Ricky or his wife.
During this time I observed neighbors watching me, so I told them what I was doing, just being upfront as this avoids them calling the police reporting “suspicious behavior”. As it turns out, these neighbors had run-ins with the Hutchinson family over the years, and did not care for them. They also had not seen Ricky in a while. I concluded at this point that Ricky definitely did not live with his parents.
Now it was time to put our second plan into action, and there is no one better at Sub-Rosa than Trudy Harris, an associate of mine. We needed to find out where Ricky lived, and since the parents would recognize me, (previously seeing me when they peeked out the windows when I knocked on their door), Trudy was the perfect person for this Sub-Rosa role.
One evening watching the house and making sure the Hutchinson family was home, Trudy knocked on their residence door @ 8:30 PM, with belated “wedding flowers”. To our luck, Ricky’s sister answered the door ONLY seeing the flowers through a peephole.
Just so you know, I am not an advocate of “delivering flowers” every time in situations such as this, nor am I in favor of delivering pizza or packages either. In these times, people are very suspicious, and if they even have a hint that process server is after them, this kind of action will not work.
It did work in this case because it was 100% believable Ricky would receive belated wedding flowers. If you know you’ll get a 100% result, by all means use this ploy.
The sister actually invited Trudy into the house! After explaining we have flowers for Ricky and his wife, and “no, we don’t know who sent them, we don’t read the cards, we just deliver them” speech, the sister calls Ricky on his cell, stating someone was here at the house to give him some flowers. Ricky told his sister to give us his address, which she did. Yeah!
Ricky and his wife live one block from his parent’s in an apartment complex. After punching in the gate code (this is a trade secret, I have all the gate codes), we arrived at the apartment of Ricky and his wife, and when he answers the door, he is very pleasant. When he was informed that he was also served with the subpoena (which was in the card attached to the flowers), he immediately was stunned and just stood there, yelling while Trudy walked away.
He should of chosen the simple way.
He should of chosen the simple way.
Ricky Hutchinson did show up for his deposition but he was fired-up. He told the lawyers during the deposition that , 1) I was a liar, 2) I never left him any messages, 3) That he would have cooperated if I gave him the chance and 4) He kept stating this accident wasn’t his fault and he still doesn’t want to be involved. Ricky was making a last ditch effort to be right and if lying does that for him, fine, at least we prevailed in finding him and getting his statement on the record - which was the point. If you give someone a choice as to whether they want to be served the easy way or the hard way, and they choose the hard way, this is the result, which is what you were hired to do.