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Advice/Opinions needed....sticky wicket.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am in need of some advice and/or suggestions on how to address a situation I'm dealing with. I'll be as brief as possible.

Background: I volunteered for a project that would eventually produce a calendar as a fundraiser. I was one of three "heads" of the project - and had my role very well defined. I incurred approximately $1,000 in expenses that I had been told would be reimbursed once we got to selling the calendar. I probably invested something on the order of 450 hours on it, as well.

I was "fired" from the project because I caught - and confronted - one of the other heads in a huge lie, one that was not simply offensive to me but which affected the calendar project itself - it had to do with additional models being used, and coordinating the shoot for that. She demanded that I apologize for her lie, and I refused.

This incident came immediately after I traveled from my home in the Los Angeles area to Georgia, in late June, getting sick, and doing a 2 day shoot which went from about 8 am to about 11 pm one day, and not being able to sleep because of the partying which was going on. I was somewhat terse the next morning (after sleeping for about an hour on someone's floor....), and was basically abandoned when everyone left for the next morning's shoot (I didn't have a rental car.).

They cut me out of the project, and then, because of their actions, the project lawyer quit. This is not a good sign, you know? I've requested three times in writing that I be given the new lawyer's info who's working on the project, but have not been given that. (And yes, I've kept copies...) I've also heard through the grapevine what the other head has been saying about me, and it's false, utter baloney, and completely untrue. They have not communicated with me whatsoever, until yesterday...but I've heard from others who've joined the team, and the emails from them have been nasty, vile, and altogether vicious.

The email I received from the more "neutral" head wants to know if I want to be included (in a very, very minute way) on the back of the calendar, in the credits' section. She has set a deadline of December 10th to let her know, but I haven't had the time today to investigate the issues legally, and don't believe I will be able to do so before the "deadline."

So what would you do? Should I demand my $$ back, let myself get credited in the calendar, or....??? This whole fiasco has hurt me personally in a very deep way, as these other heads were friends of mine before, and the one who's caused the trouble was someone I trusted implicitly and with my heart; and now I hear the things I shared with her coming back to me from people I didn't want to know. She's a gossip, a b*&^h, and someone who I wouldn't trust a cup of coffee to.

But does anyone have any ideas how to handle this effectively, and what to do about the $$ and the credit? I just don't know what to do. I have major conflict with this.

Thanks in advance - I do appreciate your help with this! (And I'm glad TCS is back....!!!)

Best-
Michele
post #2 of 20
Sounds like small claims court to me. Keep your emails and if you print them out include the headers that tell the route the emails took. You should be able to win some of that money back.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
They are in other states; the one head is in Colorado, and the other in Rhode Island....I wonder if I can file here? I certainly have the proof, but I am not sure at all about jurisdiction (although the waivers for the calendar were written in CA....).

Best-
Michele
post #4 of 20
I think that if business was transacted in California, especially if the original contract was there, then you can sue in California. But I doubt they would show up and even if you won by default, how would you collect? If you know someone in the city where the main project is, maybe you can assign the case to them and they can sue for you. I think, I am certainly no expert. Becky
post #5 of 20
personal opinion. I'd talk to a lawyer. But that's just my opinion.
post #6 of 20
You'd sue the group, not the heads. Then they decide what to do to the heads. And since it's based in CA, you'd file here.
post #7 of 20
post #8 of 20
Michele, I would get out and get everything you can of your money back from them. A small credit on a calendar isn't worth what these people have put you through.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Michele, I would get out and get everything you can of your money back from them. A small credit on a calendar isn't worth what these people have put you through.
And I didn't go into detail, either.

I'm conflicted heavily here. I am so very tempted to slap them with a Temp Injunction to prevent them from moving ahead, which will prevent them from selling the calendars until we can agree in writing what will occur (and I'm damned good at stalling things; besides, they'd have to appear in court, and that means they'd have to come here....).

This will, however, stop the fundraising. And that's why I wanted to do this in the first place - to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

Aigh!!! I'm just really torn between doing right by me personally, or doing right for the greater good. And I'm not at all sure they're mutually exclusive, I just haven't figured out how to get it done. KNow what I mean?

Oh yuck. This caused many sleepless nights over the summer, and looks like it will cause at least two more - last night and tonight.

It sent me into a moderate depression, as well....which is a high cost to pay for these twits.

I just don't know what to do.

Best-
Michele
post #10 of 20
It really depends on the "lie" i reckon. Is this project still something you'd wish to have your name associated with if you weren't dealing with these people (who do sound pretty awful from your description! ). If it is then i think you should put your name on it as you have put so much work into it already. If it's not i would definitely go down the lawyer road. I'm no expert either but i think with all the work you have put in to this project you deserve better than what has happened but you wouldn't have started this project originally if it wasn't something you believed in either.
post #11 of 20
I don't know what to tell you, but I will send you good vibes and hugs from me and the kitties. You don't deserve this crap and I hope it all works out.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
It really depends on the "lie" i reckon. Is this project still something you'd wish to have your name associated with if you weren't dealing with these people (who do sound pretty awful from your description! ). If it is then i think you should put your name on it as you have put so much work into it already. If it's not i would definitely go down the lawyer road. I'm no expert either but i think with all the work you have put in to this project you deserve better than what has happened but you wouldn't have started this project originally if it wasn't something you believed in either.
The lie was....

I was NOT in charge of coordinating the shoots' models and photogs, only running them (I am the artistic one). We shot 14 models in 4 days here in the LA area, but didn't get three of the models done (btw, the photogs and models were not paid; strictly volunteer.) The models were disappointed, so the "head" in charge of the coordination told me to set it up for them, as I was local, and could handle it by myself. I said "sure, no problem," and started to get that done.

The "head' stopped me shortly into this. No big deal, it wasn't something I wanted to handle in the first place (that's not my best stuff...). I was told that the head had gone ahead and set up the shoots. I followed up, because I thought if I had time, I'd go and help (makeup, artistic direction, et cetera.) I was not given the date/time/location after several requests. I finally asked "what the heck is going on here...you guys are making decisions and not including me...and my name is on all the waivers, so I need to know what's going on!", I was told that the models didn't want me there. So I checked that out - the "head" was furious that I'd challenge her...her ego got in the way here. After checking things out my way, it was confirmed that these models had NOT been contacted by Mary, did not ever say they didn't want me there *again, which wasn't an issue to me*, and were waiting for their shoots to be set up.

I confronted her with this information, and was told the deadline had passed, so they weren't being shot. I called her out on her lie, and also made her aware that the timeline didn't call for the shoots to be complete until September (*this was in July.). Caught in the lie, which affected not just me but the project in total, she demanded that the other head join her in firing me.

I'm also still wondering how you can fire someone from a volunteer project, anyway...

That's "the lie." And the legal issues involve copyrights, waivers/legal liability, and out of pocket costs/potential profits lost. The "head" recieved free stuff from some vendors, so she's been "enriched," and all I want is my money back, legal protection from lawsuits should one of the photogs/models sue, and my name cleared up.

Yes, I feel strongly about the cause; but at what point do I protect myself, too? That's the difficulty that I see.

SIgh. I suppose I need to speak with a lawyer tomorrow.

BEst-
Michele
post #13 of 20
I'm really sorry you have been forced to make a decision like this. It's clearly been really difficult but i think you are right in speaking to your lawyer. The whole situation seems incredibally unfair. Good luck Michele!!
post #14 of 20
[quote=noni
......Yes, I feel strongly about the cause; but at what point do I protect myself, too? That's the difficulty that I see.
Michele[/QUOTE]



Two things jump out at me from all this and I read it really carefully: Michele, have you ever been on a flight when the plane is taxing to the runway and the flight attendants are going through all the safety drills?
"The oxygen mask will drop if there's a loss in cabin pressure. Cover yourself first, and then attend to your children and/or those around you." Now that is very good advice. Sweet Michele, how can you possibly do the greater good if you aren't looking out for #1? YOU! You can't possibly give your best --and your truest-- under these murky and slimy circumstances. And as somebody else pointed out - Heidi I think - do you really want your good name associated with the project? We know, you know, most people would know that this is an honorable and righteous endeavor, but put that oxygen mask on girl before you start helping others inthat intent. Cut your losses, get out, file a small claims court Claim and take your good name, your talent and most of all, your integrity, to another project that deserves your light!.

BTW, the Claim is filed in the State where the transaction of any money took place. When that happens a "contract" of services is implied. You can file in your home state if you signed any finalizing documents or transacted funds. There are some multi-part claims that appear in more than one State. But do get a lawyer to help you. The CA State Bar may have young lawyers listed for some pro-bono work for free to get the experience. Start there or at Legal Aid. Do not spend any more money.
Love,
Elizabeth
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Sweet Michele, how can you possibly do the greater good if you aren't looking out for #1? YOU! You can't possibly give your best --and your truest-- under these murky and slimy circumstances. And as somebody else pointed out - Heidi I think - do you really want your good name associated with the project? We know, you know, most people would know that this is an honorable and righteous endeavor, but put that oxygen mask on girl before you start helping others inthat intent. Cut your losses, get out, file a small claims court Claim and take your good name, your talent and most of all, your integrity, to another project that deserves your light!
You're correct. We have a lawyer in my office, whom I respect so very much. We are the same age, live in the same area, and I just adore her.

We spoke today, on the balcony. I told her the entire story, and we discussed it a bit. In the cold and gloom I spoke of the cold and gloom in my heart about all of this. We spoke of the betrayal, the legal aspects, and the emotional issues which are involved. The one legal aspect which I hadn't considered is that if my name/face appears on the calendar, that would increase my liability, which right now is somewhat limited because of the date I was fired (I've kept all communication.). It would confuse a jury and/or a judge, should it ever come to the project being sued, as to when my responsibility/liability ended, and to cloud that issue is not a beneficial thing at all.

And I came to the conclusion that while I *do* have legal grounds to litigate, and while it wouldn't be easy, I would likely prevail, the cost of the litigation would be enormous. Not financially, but emotionally.

Because of my clinical depression, I can easily forsee a slipping into a darkness while this litigation occurred. Even if it only took a few weeks, it would be enormously difficult for me to deal with and *not* slide down the hill.

And I come first. My needs come first in this, and I need to let it stay "ago" and not give it any more life. I need to not feed that fire, not allow my bruised ego control my life, not create any more drama around this whole thing. I am coming to the end of a year which saw me in hospital three times for surgery (two minor, one moderate), which had me treated for cancer (chemo sucks, btw,); a year in which I changed companies, enlarged my real estate practice to include the entire training program, and made more money (for the time I was able to work) than ever before. This has been a year which has seen my brother leave CA, and take his family with him.

I do not need to add to the level of stress in my life. I do not need to add to the level of turmoil in my life. There are things which just happen, and that's enough for me to handle. I do not need to add to that, even if I am right, even if I deserve it.

Karma will step in now, or God, if you'd rather. When people do what they did to me, for their own gains and purposes, the Universe seems to make sure that they get put back in their place. I don't need to help the Universe do that...rather, instead I choose to help myself and not give me more to deal with.

Thanks for all the comments and guidance - I really do appreciate it, and all the comments have helped me make a clear decision. Love to you all!

Best-
Michele
post #16 of 20
Michele, I'm glad you have been able to come to decision that feels right in your heart. That's the best any of us can do in any situation.
post #17 of 20
Michele, I've read a lot of your posts and what I've gleaned from them is you are a very competent, empathetic, kind, honest, talented, and skilled individual. Maybe this is putting the situation too simplistically, but is seems to me that the "head" was JEALOUS of you. Not that that helps your case, should you decide to file one, but I just wanted you to know that people at this site admire and respect you. Your former "friend" doesn't deserve you.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi, all.

After much researching and lots of soul searching, I contacted a lawyer. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is how this is best described. My need to protect myself at this point outweighs any possible benefit the project can create. Which really sucks, in a way. You know?

There are many things I've discovered which were done without regard to the law, and violated copyright stuff. Furthermore, there's been some plagiarizing of the mission statement which I wrote, and no credit has been given at any time for any of the stuff I did. Additionall, there has been not simply copyright violation, but intellectual property violations, as well.

My lawyer is confident we will prevail. It's going to get rather interesting....I've never been in Federal Court.

Just thought I'd update you all on this.

Best-
Michele
post #19 of 20
wow, i hope it all goes well
post #20 of 20
Holy moley Michele! Good luck with everything. Sounds like these were some pretty unscrupulous people working on this project. Even if you didn't do this, who's to say that the charity would have received the funds they should have from the money raised?
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