" There is no justice in our judicial system. When it comes down to it, it’s who’s the better liar. " 
                      - Opposing Counsel
" There is no justice in our judicial system. When it comes down to it, it’s who’s the better liar. " 
     
                                                                                      - Opposing Counsel
An idealistic entrepreneur sets out to buy a 

GERMAN RESTAURANT

and instead gets embroiled in a

HAUS of THIEVES

An idealistic entrepreneur sets out to buy a 

GERMAN RESTAURANT

and instead gets embroiled
in what feels like a 

HAUS of THIEVES

  October 1, 2018       

      Lielle Arad?
      Yes.
I’m at the 'Jeanette's Edelweiss' hostess stand behind a computer set up between two large decorative beer barrels. I giggle. This is my go-to response no matter what is going on. The conspicuous man hands me a manila envelope with a gentle smile on his face.
      You’ve been served.
      Thank you!
I say it a little too enthusiastically. Overcompensating to hide from my heart that’s been lying dormant in my stomach for the last couple months. I take the envelope and begin to retreat to my closet sized office next to the mop sink adjacent to the kitchen. I sit down and pull out the complaint.

  October 1, 2018       

      Lielle Arad?
      Yes.
I’m at the 'Jeanette's Edelweiss' hostess stand behind a computer set up between two large decorative beer barrels. I giggle. This is my go-to response no matter what is going on. The conspicuous man hands me a manila envelope with a gentle smile on his face.
      You’ve been served.
      Thank you!
I say it a little too enthusiastically. Overcompensating to hide from my heart that’s been lying dormant in my stomach for the last couple months. I take the envelope and begin to retreat to my closet sized office next to the mop sink adjacent to the kitchen. I sit down and pull out the complaint.
At first glance the complaint looks cheap and poorly written. No substance or case I believe. I read their fraud claim. I chuckle to myself. This makes no sense. It seems to be just another overconfident intimidation tactic. I'm used to these by now. 
It was exactly a year ago to the day that I had handed over $250,000.00 to buy this 3800 square foot German restaurant in Newbury Park for my non-profit organization. After the sellers took the money they became different people. Instead of transferring the ownership they left me as their manager, and denied me or my organization any ownership. My attorney spent a year trying to get the sellers to transfer the ownership lawfully. They weren’t having it. How can they claim I’m the fraud now, when I’m the one that handed them the money and hadn’t received my end of the bargain?

Turns out I’m naïve. Not about buying a German restaurant from a pair of con artists. I’m naïve about litigation. I have no experience with it. But, it looks like I’m getting that experience whether I like it or not.
I slip the papers back in the envelope and bring it out to the dining area. Lilly is at the bar, cleaning and arranging giant glass boots and steins for another day serving a full haus Oktoberfest. It’s Lilly’s first job. She is the sister of Sam, who is the lead singer for our ‘polka pop’ entertainment of the night.
      Lilly, can you take a look at this?
Lilly joins me in her bubblegum pink dirndl at one of our 10-foot long beer hall tables. Lilly is the perpetual student. English major. Law grad. Enrolled in an MBA program. She had just passed the infamous California bar exam, and was happy to serve beer from behind one instead. Lilly takes the complaint in her hands like she’s seen them a million times.
      Yea, looks generic to me.
I breathe a sigh of relief in the moment, more because I’m facing a long night of celebration with a full house. But when Oktoberfest ends, and the last two-liter glass boot breaks in the hands of a man wearing lederhosen, little does Lilly know I’ll be asking her to ditch the dirndl and help me take on the dogs of war.
Have you been sued?
Learn how Lielle answered a complaint following civil procedure and initiated her own claims.
Have you been sued?
Learn how Lielle answered a complaint following civil procedure and initiated her own claims.

  September 19, 2017 

      I need some harmony in my life.
Jeanette smiles and laughs. She is exciting and she seems excited about our nonprofit as well. She represents herself as a self-made international high powered film producer. I open the restaurant door to an oversized replica of her face featured on the cover of Germany‘s Vogue annual business edition. I believe she has had some success.

The restaurant has only been in business for a couple of years. It’s charming. Murals depicting scenes taken from what seems like the sound of music are the backdrop to a miniature train track running along the ceiling perimeter of the dining hall.
      Do you have a train?
      Yes, all you have to do is call Peter. Feed him some rouladen. He’ll bring the train back.
I’m impressed. I believe Jeanette and her tv producer husband Jim have created this little German gem. The restaurant looks like an actual film set, where you can eat your apple strudel between two apartment buildings on picnic tables in Bavaria. Flowers, murals, faux shutters and decks, a garden stage, hand carved wooden tables and bar. The servers in dirndls and lederhosen. It was obvious the ingredients for fun were conceived but I couldn’t ignore the murky dark and quiet feeling that also accompanied this afternoon tea time. Very few customers trickle in. 
Michael, a nervous tall dark haired German, sets a cup of coffee with three dollops of Bavarian cream in front of me. I take a sip. It’s cold.
      Oh, I’m so sorry.
Michael takes the cup apologizing and embarrassed. Jeanette and Jim sit across from me. This wasn’t our first encounter. In 2015 they sold their branded jams and mustards at our non-profits farmers market. At the table, Jeanette is all business. She’s explaining the opportunity to buy their restaurant like it is a gold mine; they are just too busy making deals in their TV business to manage. I’m suspicious. But I’m listening.
Jeanette - A picture of one of our opponents.

  January 29, 2019

Today is the day, I’m coming out pro se.

Up until this point I had legal representation. But I can no longer stand back while my kind hearted attorney trips all over himself to keep up with the opposition's high powered litigation tactics. I’m not paying him enough. I need to take the law into my own hands. Whether this is considered proper or not. I can’t accept these con artists cheating me, my non-profit or anyone else for that matter. Otherwise, I don’t feel I deserve to be a non-profit president.
     Tell me what you want. What is it that you want?
Kris Stingber looks and talks like Bill Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. His website states he is an entertainment lawyer. The entertainment industry is notorious for breaching contracts. Kris is an experienced litigator and he is also a settler.
      I want justice.
Kris bursts out laughing.
      There is no justice in our judicial system. When it  comes down to it, it’s who’s the better liar.
Our meet and confer is a formality. A requirement before a demurrer to our first amended cross-complaint. A demurrer is an attempt to cancel our complaint altogether. Like an objection. And it can have that effect. It can wipe my complaint out entirely. A demurrer keeps my complaint in limbo where it technically is not ‘at issue’ in the court. 

I’m a bit unsuspecting at 5 foot and fairly petite. I’m sharp, but litigation is another level. Legal terms are not all intuitive. The work is grueling, technical and tedious. The law seems insurmountable to comprehend in any crash course. A lot is at stake and this is more reading and writing than I have ever experienced in my life. I don’t intimidate Kris or his clients.

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m still scrolling through 100+ pages of moving papers. "Uncertainty” … “Lack of standing” …. “Sham pleading” …. Kris told us he is unleashing his dogs of war. But dogs don’t exactly fight with their intellect. So I feel I can overcome this dime store demurrer. I take a deep breath and get up from my computer to walk through my quiet house. My son Quest sleeping soundly with his dad upstairs. 

I walk into the cold dark garage where a fourth of it has been converted into a makeshift office from the previous tenant. I push open the lightweight door to brown berber carpet and a corner desk made out of a mish mosh of different furniture parts. I touch the exposed drywall. This will be my war room.







  January 10, 2020

It’s 5pm and I’m refreshing the courts website every minute waiting for the tentative ruling from our judge to appear. Lilly and I are on the fourth demurrer now. It’s been 15 months and we still do not have our case at issue.

This may be our last chance. We had spent the month at the Pepperdine Law Library, scouring the books for case law and statutes to support our arguments. Our opposition reads to me this time like a love affair with the law. Every line sung to me like a song of law and fact in undeniable harmony. But no matter how meticulous my moving paper felt to me, I’m convinced I’ve blown it. I concede to my non profit board that I tried as hard as I could, and I’m sorry but I’ve failed.
     The horse has left the barn.
Kris liked to colloquial in idioms. He is not convinced in my plea to stipulate to some of the main claims alleged in my complaint. I’m prepared to drop claims entirely in fear of a looming negative ruling that could render my complaint dismissed. 
    It’s here. I can’t read it. Lilly, you read it. 
Lilly starts to skim the paper. My eyes avoid the details at all cost until they recognize the word overruled. Now I want to look. I see another paragraph start with the word overruled. I skip to the end. OVERRULED. All fourteen causes of action in our complaint survive what feels like an attempted demurrer-der. My nemesis is ordered to answer. I can feel the year of stress in my shoulders relax a little. My hand wanting to stay suspended in a high-five forever. Our case is at issue and I enroll in law school.
SANCTIONED & ENJOINED FROM IMPROPER SPEAKING OBJECTIONS.
After several depositions of our opponents using their overpaid high powered attorney to obstruct as much discovery as possible, I stopped the misconduct by filing a motion to compel a proper deposition, without the opposing attorneys constant speaking objections, and sought sanctions. Motion was granted. 

This was a major turning point. 

Trial Date: March 14, 2021. Stay Tuned.

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