The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries

CHAPTER 12 cont'd

"It's not my food he's interested in." I told him I didn't have the privacy I expected from the almost $800 I had spent, and I proposed to return him the cylinder and the padlock. He said it was not possible, these things were not returnable. I asked what was returnable, the grills? His warranty of return within 30 days didn't specify any restrictions. "You must come and pay me three hundred an fifty dollars in cash tomorrow before twelve o'clock." "I'll talk to the police before." But I had given up on officer Lawson, of the Crime Prevention unit. He had shown the same doubtful attitude as his colleagues from the start. He had said he would read the complaint I had just filed but when I asked a few days later if he had read it, he had said no in a very careless way and sounded vaguely annoyed at my calls. The last time I called, on Monday, he had told me that he was going to leave on a long long vacation. I asked how long. "Oh, I don't know. Two weeks or a month." A cop didn't know about his vacation time. I felt a definite unwillingness to help on his part.

COMPLAINT TO THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE

On Thursday August the 26th, I mailed one complaint against the Slavits and one complaint against Kurach and Cassell (the Workers Comp attorneys) to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee:

AGAINST LEONARD AND IRA SLAVIT:

After being injured in an accident on May 23, 1990, I was referred to a father and son team of lawyers, M. Leonard Slavit and M. Ira Slavit, by an acquaintance who visited me every day in the hospital.

I had been sideswiped by a Transit Authority bus on 5th Avenue between 42nd and 41st Street while riding a bicycle. In order not to fall and be crushed under the rear wheel of the bus, I had managed to stay up by leaning against the bus on my left shoulder and I fell on my left knee after the bus had passed me.

Shortly after I returned home, Mr. Ira Slavit told me that the jury would not believe the description of the accident as I had described it to him. He said the jury would believe instead that I had tried to commit suicide by throwing myself against the bus, and that, for that reason, I should alter my account.

PHOTOGRAPHS: On several occasions, when I was visiting at the office, Mr. I. Slavit showed me photographs which he said were of the scene of the accident. These photographs didn't show any street sign for positive identification, and the markings on the asphalt were obviously different from those I remembered and had described in my testimonies. I returned to the scene of the accident recently with a camera to ascertain that my memory wasn't failing me, and found, as I expected, that Mr. I. Slavit had showed me photographs taken at another place. I took photographs showing the street signs of 5th Avenue and 41st street, a store and the markings of the lanes on 5th Avenue.

MONEY AWARD: MM. Slavit always refused to give me even a rough estimate of the amount of money I could expect. Not until late June 1993 could I hear from L. Slavit that he estimated the award would be around $150,000.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION: Since the accident had occurred while I was working as a bycicle messenger, although I was an independant contractor I was entitled to Worker's Compensation benefits.

On August 22, 1990, I visited Mr. Ira Slavit and prior to discussing my case, he made me sign a letter stating that I didn't expect him to file a Worker's Compensation claim on my behalf. Some time later I asked Mr. Slavit for a referral since he had said he didn't handle Worker's Compensation claims, and he referred me to Mr. Cassel of the Law firm Kurach and Cassell in Manhattan. I went twice to the Worker's Compensation board in Brooklyn for a hearing. The first time my attorney was very evasive and nothing happened, the second time my attorney failed to appear, I presented myself when my case was called and the case was closed for Failure to Prosecute. I received a note from my employer's insurance carrier stating that at the date of my accident, my employer wasn't insured yet. The accident had occurred on May 23, 1991 and the policy was effective July 1st, 1991.

NEUROLOGICAL EXAM.: In April 1992, I received a copy of a letter addressed to my attorneys. This letter told me that I had to submit to a medical exam by a neurologist and in threatening terms said that I would forfeit my claim if I didn't submit to the exam. This letter was different from the letters I had previously received from the Transit Authority. It had been printed on a computer printer and used large letters and a lot of bold face, unlike the usual T. A. letters. But I felt intimidated by the language, I didn't question the origin of the letter and made an appointment. My attorneys didn't contact me to make arrangements to accompany me as had been the case for other medical exams. I was busy with my work and didn't contact them either and went by myself on May 21, 1992 to see Dr. Slotweiner, 153 Waverly Place in Manhattan. This exam was a horrible experience. The doctor asked me to close my eyes and pricked my skin with needles on various parts of my body, except the area of injury, to check my sensory receptors. He asked me to close one eye and count his fingers at a fast pace, then close the other eye and repeat the procedure. He performed all kinds of unpleasant and stressful tests on my skin receptors while my eyes were closed, he placed a vibrating instrument on the sole of my feet until I screamed in exasperation, but whatever test he performed, he never tested the part of my leg which had been injured. I felt I had been abused, and when I returned home I called Ira Slavit and burst in tears on the phone when I explained what had happened. Mr. I. Slavit told me that Dr. Slotweiner had followed standard procedures, but that I shouldn't have gone, that the exam would have been mandatory only if I had still been seeing a doctor. I have been looking for this letter to attach it to this complaint and found it missing from my file, like the driver's testimonies. I have called the Transit Authority to know if they have any record of their letter requesting me to be examined by Dr. Slotweiner. Their computer doesn't show any payment to that doctor, which seems to indicate that they didn't request that exam in the first place.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: I was the victim of sexual harassment by Dr. Nailor. For that reason, in May 1991, I changed doctors to have the metal parts in my leg removed, and chose Dr. Francis Pflum. Unfortunately Dr. Pflum didn't take out everything and didn't have any X-rays taken post-surgery, and a staple in the front of my knee appeared in the X-rays taken later on. I sought my attorney's advice regarding a lawsuit for each of these problems. Mr. I. Slavit discouraged me from doing anything and explained vaguely that the claim he had filed for me covered also any subsequent damages.

AGAINST KURACH & CASSELL:
WORKERS' COMPENSATION: Since the accident had occurred while I was working as a bycicle messenger, although I was an independant contractor I was entitled to Worker's Compensation benefits.

I received a note from my employer's insurance carrier stating that at the date of my accident, my employer wasn't insured yet. The accident had occurred on May 23, 1991 and the policy was effective July 1st, 1991.

I received a notice of hearing. I didn't hear from my attorneys so the day before the hearing I called their office. Mr. Cassell said that he hadn't received copy of the notice of hearing, and we arranged to meet at the Worker's Compensation Board the next day.

Mr. Kurach met me there on July 23, 1991. He was very evasive and nothing happened. For the second hearing, on September 8, 1992, I called my attorneys in advance to make sure I would be represented, but my attorney failed to appear. I didn't see anybody representing my employer either. I presented myself when my case was called and I didn't understand what happened. I called a week ago, in August 1993, and learned that the case had been closed for Failure to Prosecute but that I could make a motion to have it reopened.

SMALL CLAIMS COURT COMPLAINT

Friday the 27th: I had lost hope on their side and went instead to file a complaint to Small Claims Court about the locksmith's refusal to honor the 30 days warranty. After 7PM I called his answering service to inform him that I had filed a complaint against him.

BACK TO SUPREME COURT

During the following week, I was mostly occupied with trying to find a new attorney. But I thought that first I should try to clean up the case by having my testimonies rendered null and void by the judge. This would entail the conclusion that my attorneys had forged them. I wrote a notice of motion and went to the clerk to file it. He read it and told me it was dangerous for me to admit to having lied, that it could compromise my credibility for ever. Plus I was not at the right place and he gave me the address. I went at 80 Center Street and found a clerk who looked like he had serious emotional problems, the kind that would not seem out of place in a psychiatric hospital. He was tall, lanky and very nervous, but he was very helpful. He showed me a Notice of Motion that had just been filed so I could get the right language. I asked him if he could make a copy for me, that he could cross out the personal information and he obliged. I thanked him profusely, said he had been very helpful and went out. After talking with other lawyers, I decided against filing this paper for the time being.

TRYING AGAIN TO FIND LEGAL HELP

Three categories of lawyers appeared: most of them were in the first category. They thought that I had a good case when I told them how the accident really happened. Some of them were surprised, if not disappointed, that I had not suffered worse injuries than I did. Only a broken knee! Indeed. But they turned the case down because of the problem of the false testimonies. It wasn't worth their time.

In the second category, Sanford Solny, a young-sounding attorney who works with Susan Benson and whom I called to have his advice proposed to offer the TA to settle out of court for me. He said he had already worked against the TA and knew some lawyers over there. But I thought it would weaken my case so much, being the Plaintiff, it would be like an admission of wrongdoing on my part, and the TA would get off the hook for a song.

In the third category, there were the lawyers who said I shouldn't change my story, maybe four or five of all the lawyers I called. One of them was a criminal attorney whose name I had picked in the Daily News ads. When I called first he was out and his secretary took my number, saying he would call me. I wanted to have his opinion regarding the false statements. He said that if I perjured myself on the stand I would probably not be prosecuted.

MR FALK, ATTY

A personal injury lawyer called me. A paralegal in another firm had called me to give me his number after I had been turned down by the firm where she worked, but I didn't call. So he called me. Mr. Falk's voice was extremely calm and velvety. He pretended to know very little about my case but I'm sure he had talked with the Slavits before calling me. I told him I had fired my lawyers because they had told me to lie and I hadn't been sworn in at the depositions. He told me that it wasn't really lying, that the lawyers had made me say certain things only to make my case easier to understand for the jury, that it happened a lot, that I shouldn't feel guilty. He appealed to my sense of greed, saying he was sure I wanted the money. I kept with the problem of the tes- timonies, and said I was considering to file a notice of motion to have them voided. "If you want to kill your case, that's what you do." "But my lawyers didn't tell me these documents were legally binding, and I wasn't sworn in." "But you have to keep being consistent, you have to say the same thing you said in your depositions or you'll lose the case." "But what they told me to say is unbelievable, I can't believe it myself. I cannot stand a cross examination with this story." "You must remain consistent, that's the only way." "But there is such a thing a due process." "No." Then he excused himself, saying he had to take a call on another line. He was absent several minutes. I am sure now that he had L. Slavit on the other line and that they were conferring about what to do. Then he was back and apologized for keeping me waiting.

"Now, you've fired your attorneys. What happened to your file, do you have it?" "No, they have it." "Well, they are not going to keep it forever. You must find a new attorney who will take over from them. Now would you like to come to my office?" I said ok and we made an appointment for the day after Labor Day. Then he told me, with a lot of warmth in his soft voice, that I shouldn't feel guilty, that I had done nothing wrong, that I wouldn't have to pay a double fee even if I changed lawyers, and wished me a good week- end, not to lose sleep over this matter. But after I had hung up, I realized that I could definitely not go along the same line as the Slavits, and one good reason was that I had sent a complaint to the Grievance Committee, the DA, that I had said to the Judge that my attorneys had directed me to lie. Maybe I'll have to wait until an investigation is started, and maybe until I am called as a Government witness to testify about all this.

I called David Margolick a second time and told him Susan Benson's lawfirm wouldn't take my case. I was angry at the way she had treated me, like I was a despicale individual. I was incensed. I told him that I hadn't been sworn in at the 50-H and the EBT and I swore that I would expose my lawyers. He said that he had done all he could for me. He sounded annoyed. I understood that his time was valuable and that I was being a pest. I hung up with a feeling of letdown.

LOOKING FOR THE LANDLORD'S AD

In the last days of August, moved by a sort of impulse, I went to the Public Library to look for the ad which I had answered when I was looking for new digs back in 1989. What intrigued me was that the ad said "Musicians welcome" and obviously this place where I live is the opposite of an artists' colony.

I asked for the microfilms of the Village Voice and the New York Times of July and august 89. I was pretty sure that the ad was in the NY Times but didn't find the ad that I had answered, altough I remembered having seen it several times: first before I spent some time at Sarah's, which was in early July, and then in the second part of August. I was almost positive that the day I moved in or just the day before the ad was in the paper. The microfilm of the NY Times was reeled backwards, with the last page of the last day of August at the beginning. I asked on attendant how could this happen. She had no explanation and said that it happened sometimes. But the loaded reel and the empty reel are different. The loaded reel goes on the left slot, and the empty reel that receives the film can't be removed, which forces the user to rewind the film to the loaded reel. So how could the film be rewound backwards on the loaded reel? And why did this have to happen to me?

And to my surprise, in the "Furnished rooms", there was nothing about 19 West 103rd street! All I found was in the Voice of June 5, 1989, an ad that said:

103rd st. West #19
Very sunny, clean rooms
From $85 & up weekly. See owner
No fee. 678-0492. Job refs req.

Same thing in another June issue of the Voice, and in the issue of August 29, the following ad:

103rd St. West, #19
Between Manhattan ave and CPW, 1 blk IRT
$85 & up weekly. Artists and Musicians
Welcome. See owner 212/678-0492

This was the ad that I had answered.

I went to Computer Warehouse where I had bought my computer and asked whether all the keys to lock the computers of the Kenitec brand were different or identical. The man said they were all the same. So it really had been a very bad idea to bring Bonarti to the store and encourage him to buy a computer like mine, because with the key of his computer he could unlock mine!

During all this, I haven't given up music. As a matter of fact, I have played much less than if I had been playing outdoors like I intended at the beginning of the summer, but what I expected from this practice, I obtained while playing much less and staying indoors. The glitches I was referring to are mostly gone, and what I lacked, the polish, was in fact the phrasing of the vocal part. Now I am able to really intend every word and impart it with meaning and emotion, because I am no longer afraid to be overwhelmed by my feelings. Therefore my breath control is better. I believe I had to get all this monstrous machination out of my system. It was interfering with my ability to relax and express myself vocally and emotionally. The sonority of my voice has greatly improved too. I have kept stretching my lower jaw all summer, so that opening my mouth wide doesn't feel too awkward and it has worked. Besides I am more self confident after the horrendous stress I have weathered. I know that if I'm not more advanced in my career, it is not because I lack talent, but because my mother prevents me by any means to even get started. So I have to keep faith and be prepared for when the opportunity occurs. So many times have I had opportunities, but I wasn't prepared. Let this not happen again.

In September 1993, I had caught up to the present events and was now writing a diary


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