Cross-examination is one of the most powerful tools in a trial lawyer’s litigation bag. This was demonstrated recently in Willenken’s successful defense of a breach of contract and fraud action.
The firm’s client, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic and computer components (“Contract Manufacturer”), was sued by an international staffing firm (“Staffing Firm”) for failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in disputed invoices related to the provision of temporary workers and services. The Contract Manufacturer did not pay the invoices because it had found discrepancies between the invoices and its internal accounting and time keeping records.
Through investigation and discovery, the Willenken team uncovered the real reason for these discrepancies: The Staffing Firm’s on-site supervisor submitted fraudulent and inflated time cards in a scheme to divert the additional payments to his personal bank account. With this knowledge, less than a month before trial, Willenken deposed the Staffing Firm’s head of security. Within the first two hours of the deposition, Paul Loh, using meticulous questioning, elicited fatal admissions from the witness. Specifically, he admitted that the Staffing Firm not only knew of its own employee’s misconduct, but it deliberately sought to lay blame upon the Contract Manufacturer for failing to detect the fraud. Paul then took the witness through critical internal emails which ultimately forced him to further admit that the Staffing Firm had sufficient records to detect and stop the fraud at its inception, but failed to properly review them.
Less than a week after this key deposition, the Staffing Firm offered to dismiss the suit for a walk-away. The Contract Manufacturer, however, also wanted the Staffing Firm to issue a written, public apology for bringing suit, because the litigation had generated negative press for the client. Within 48 hours of this demand, the Staffing Firm agreed to issue the apology. This successful ending was the direct result of a thoroughly prepared and incisive cross-examination.