In my line of work, it has never been unusual to see lawsuits. Several thousand times each year, homeowners will hire a contractor to install our roofing on their home. Out of all of those times, there are bound to be a couple of times when things go awry, the contractor and the homeowner don't see eye to eye, and things end up going to the “next level” – litigation. Usually, when things seem to be heading in that direction and we know about it, we can step in and get the involved parties talking to one another again. Things will then usually take a turn for the better and a suitable resolution will be found. Sometimes, though, if that doesn’t work, litigation does occur and sometimes we get drug into that litigation even though most sensible folks will agree that we did not have any true responsibility in the disagreement. Attorneys and insurance companies invariably start searching for “deep pockets” and, for some reason, they think we might have those. (Boy are they wrong.)
However, in the last couple of years I have seen some really odd things happen. We have been sued over two jobs that our products were never even installed on and, just yesterday, I learned that I am both personally and corporately being sued by someone I have never even heard of. It involves a commission which he feels that an independent dealer for our products owed him but never paid. I feel certain that we will get this suit thrown out of court before it will ever go to trial but it’s going to require a lot of time and money to make that happen.
I always wonder more than anything how I am supposed to handle such things. I Corinthians 6 says that one believer should not bring suit against another but these are cases of people I hardly know (if I know them at all) bringing suit against me. Now, if I wrong someone, I should pay for it and make restitution. I won’t argue that, and, just through the way I live my life, I make every effort to make sure that I never wrong someone. I just can’t figure out how I might have wronged someone I have never even heard of. But, again, if I did, then I am responsible.
I guess that what I seek is to make sure that, throughout even these situations -- these tests by fire -- I am the face of Jesus. A few years ago, we were sued over a mis-installed roof. The contractor who botched the job had also contracted cancer afterward and gone out of business. From the moment I knew about the problems, we offered to fix the roof at no charge. We had no real responsibility to do that but we made the offer out of goodwill. Heck, before they sued us, the plaintiffs’ attorney even told me that he didn’t feel we had any liability. But, our continued offers to fix the roof were denied by the homeowners. During depositions, though, we had the opportunity to meet face to face. I think that, through that process, they discovered that I was not the anti-Christ after all and they began to talk about settlement. I could have settled the entire situation at that point for a moderate amount of cash but I stuck by my guns -- they had contracted to have our roof properly installed on their home, and that is what I wanted them to have. I knew that it would ultimately cost us more than what we could have settled for but I insisted on replacing the roof because I felt that it was the right thing to do.
Well, to make a long story short, replacing the roof cost about five times more than what we could have settled for but we got the roof replaced and the homeowners were made more than whole and are very happy. I pray that, through all of that, they were able to recognize the face of Jesus working on their behalf. If that happened, it was probably no small fete because I am pretty sure they are Jewish.
Anyway, I do not even know where I was going with this post. Oh yeah ... I don't know what this world is coming to. Something serious must be done in terms of tort reform. It is truly ridiculous how much money and effort are being wasted on frivolous lawsuits being driven I feel by greedy plaintiffs and attorneys. Greed quickly becomes our own worst enemy.