Hit That Fuckin’ Clown

GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corporation (pdf, 44 pages) is but a drop of water in the raging river of commercial litigation that runs through the federal trial courts. Or at least it was just a drop of water until plaintiff’s counsel tried to depose the defendant company’s owner/CEO.

HTFC Corp. is a “mortgage investor.” It takes loan applications and sells loans to lenders. GMAC Bank, which administers residential mortgages, contracted to buy a bunch of residential loans from HTFC. GMAC sued HTFC in federal court for breach of contract, alleging that loans at issue weren’t properly underwritten and were not “investment quality,” whatever the hell that means. HTFC filed a counterclaim for tortious interference with contract and the case proceeded.

Agonizingly boring stuff, right? Well, hang on a second, Cochise. It gets better.

Depositions are an integral part of any civil case. I can’t even count the number I’ve been involved in over the years. They generally take place at the office of a lawyer involved in the case. The lawyers get together in a room with a court reporter and a witness. The lawyer who initiated the deposition then gets information from the witness via question and answer. The court reporter transcribes the goings-on. In that respect, the process is not unlike trial testimony. In depositions, though, the atmosphere is generally much looser and subjects of proper inquiry much broader than in a courtroom. Moreover, Jones v. Clinton notwithstanding, there’s almost never a judge present.

So it was when counsel for GMAC deposed Aaron Wider, the owner and CEO of HTFC. As is typical these days, the deposition was both transcribed and videotaped. My boss has been videotaping his depositions for many years based on his belief that the presence of a camera tends to make the witness behave better.

Not so in Mr. Wider’s case. The deposition was a two-day, twelve-hour affair during which the witness exhibited explosive potty mouth on a near biblical scale. Among the highlights:

Q. [T]his is your loan file, what do Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald do for a living?
A. I don’t know. Open it up and find it.
Q. Look at your loan file and tell me.
A. Open it up and find it. I’m not your fucking bitch.
Q. Take a look at your loan application.
A. Do it yourself. Do it yourself. You want to do this in front of a judge. Would you prefer to [do] this in front of a judge? Then, shut the fuck up.
Q. Sir, take a look–
A. I’m taking a break. Fuck him. You open up the document. You want me to look at something, you get the document out. Earn your fucking money asshole. Isn’t the law wonderful. Better get used to it. You’ll retire when I’m done.

. . .

Q. And you have a hard time comprehending. We’re going to adjourn this deposition if this happens again because you are offending every single person.
A. Don’t speak for anybody in here except yourself fuck face.

. . .

Q. What we can do is we can have this deposition in front of a judge.
A. We can do that.
Q. And the judge can–
A. Let’s do that.
Q. No, no. We’re not going to–
A. Let’s do that; this way he can rip your ass out.
Q. We’re not going to do that, sir, okay.
A. Then don’t fuckin’ threaten me, asshole.
Q. Well, sir, I would appreciate it if you would control your language in light of the people that are present in the room and I would appreciate it if you would be a little more courteous, okay.
A. I’m very courteous.
Q. Okay. Now–
A. Let’s go in front of a judge and shut up.
Q. Sir–
A. Shut your mouth.

. . .

Q. Well, do you know the purpose for these transactions?
A. Why the fuck would I know that?
Q. I’m just asking you whether you know.
A. Why the fuck would I know that?
Q. I’m asking whether or not you know that.
A. It’s got nothing to do with the transaction. Don’t ask stupid questions. Ask smart questions.

. . .

Q. Are you very pleased with yourself, sir?
A. Yes, I am.
Q. Because you’re trying to perpetrate a fraud and hide it?
A. Go fuck yourself, Bob. Now, you’re going to have to wait.
Q. Sir, if you keep walking out–
A. Shut the fuck up.
Q. Here we go again.
A. I have a business to run.
Q. You don’t have a business to run. You have a deposition.
A. Shut the fuck up. Don’t tell me what to do. You sit there. You’re on the payroll. You can sit there and juice your client; you’re not juicing
me. [Wider leaves the room.]

. . .

Q. Is it just a coincidence Mr. Petinton was involved as the Trustee in connection with both of thoseTrusts?
A. It’s not a coincidence that I’m a genius at what I do. I obey the law and live the law. You practice the law. Sir, I’m not going to be interrupted while I am speaking. I live the law. You serve the law. You practice the law. I abide by the law and enforce the law to the fullest extent the law allows. The only difference between you and I is I have a pair of balls and you don’t. The only difference between the average person [and me] is I have a pair of balls and they don’t. You think it’s funny. I’m not the one chasing $15 million ass wipe.

My personal favorite exchange arose from Mr. Wider repeatedly calling plaintiff’s counsel a “fucking clown.” Against that backdrop the following delightful exchange occurred:

Q. Okay. You’re not employed by HTFC Corporation?
A. No, I own HTFC Corporation. Be specific.
Q. Okay. And what do the initials HTFC mean?
A. Hit That Fuckin’ Clown. That’s what it means. It’s an acronym.

The trial judge (or more likely his clerk) actually counted the cuss words and discovered that “Wider used the word ‘fuck’ and variants thereof no less than 73 times.” By contrast, the word “contract” appears but fourteen times in the entire transcript.

In the end, the judge sanctioned Mr. Wider and HTFC’s counsel — jointly and severally — to the tune of $29,322.61 in attorney fees and costs. Defense counsel’s liability was based primarily on his failure to keep Wider under control, but the court also noted that at least one point Wider’s antics had defense counsel snickering on the record.

Hit That Fuckin’ Clown’s website is available here. I double dog dare anyone to incur Mr. Wider’s wrath by stealing that super-cool money graphic on the right side of the page.

Update: Please don’t waste your time clicking on the HTFC website linked above. The link now takes you to the website of some IT company called Blue Lion Solutions. Boring, very boring.

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