The Rainmaker

I’ve always loved John Grisham books. Except The Partner…that one was awful.

My favorite is The Firm (and I loathe that movie with Tom Cruise). It’s nothing like the book…like, not even close. Worst movie adaptation ever.

I have read The Firm probably 15 times, if not more.  I always take it to the beach anytime I head south because that’s the route the main character, Mitch McDeere, took in the story.

The Rainmaker was harder to read. Books and movies are an escape for me and I don’t like reading anything based on a true story.

For example: The Pursuit of Happyness. I wish I could be hypnotized and have the memory of that movie erased from my mind. I’m a huge Will Smith fan anyway, and seeing him play that dad made their story even more believable. That movie had 15 seconds of happiness in it. I cried and cried at what they, and others in that situation, went through. 

I do realize works of fiction have inspiration from somewhere, especially when a real lawyer is writing them. It’s the same with the medical suspense/thrillers I read – written by former doctors. I probably don’t want to think too much about how much they use real-life cases to form their art.

The Rainmaker is a fictional book, but the domestic violence, corrupt legal system and corporate greed are very real. After I read it once, I did read it again because I find I enjoy the story, and go slower. when I know the ending.

I loved the movie. Since it came out in 1997, and after I discovered the book, I’ve seen it maybe three times. Even then, I have to fast forward through parts where I know, in my heart, a real family has been in the exact same place…with the exact same pain.

It’s hard for me to watch anything where people are in pain or being abused. I’m not taking about the “I’m being attacked by an alien and they cut off my arm pain.” It is like any pain I can personally relate to…

It’s the the type of agony where you know someone cried for hours into a pillow, and felt their entire heart was shattering into a million pieces from loss, betrayal or…pain.  It’s when their chest is no doubt sore from heaving anguished breaths, and their eyes are swollen from tears.

Sounds like a good Saturday night Redbox?

So, back to The Rainmaker. You have a young man who just passed the bar, and an older, street-smart advisor who hasn’t passed the bar after trying five times. The law firm where they work is raided by the Feds and they find themselves thrown together trying to make a practice of their own.

The young lawyer, Rudy Baylor, had met a family at the free legal aid office because their son had been denied health insurance benefits. 

It was life or death. We aren’t talking about fender benders, stolen property or someone who says they hurt their back at work.

It was life or death, but those corporate lawyers and the initial judge did not care. Their routine to settle and treat Rudy like he was doing something noble was smooth and rehearsaled. 

I’ve met people like this in the past few years, and writing down my experiences may hurt me or help me in future endeavors, but it’s the truth, and I need for someone else to know. 

In the book, an insurance company repeatedly denied claims to policy holders in order to fatten their pockets. These policies were sold door to door in poor neighborhoods, monthly premiums collected, in hopes people would be too dumb or too broke to fight back when denied.

This one mom though, Dot Black, her son had leukemia. He was going to die without treatment. She wrote to Great Benefits Insurance Company and hounded them about how she had paid every premium, until they wrote her back saying,

“Dear Mrs. Black: On seven prior occasions this company has denied your claim in writing. We now deny it for the eighth and final time. You must be stupid, stupid stupid, stupid!”

Her breath catches. Her heart drops. She probably realizes that her son’s suffering will not end. The letters and pleas have fallen on deaf ears. No. One. Cares.

Most moms are naturally a protector, but this time she can’t fix it. She paid for services and now the suits and ties tell her she’s stupid? She has no money, no connections and no way to fight back.

But, she is going to try anyway.

This is how I felt the day my children’s court-appointed Guardian as Litem told me I was crazy. When she twisted words and couldn’t read emails in the right order, and refused to believe she’d made a mistake, even when I laid it out in black and white for her to read. 

This is how I felt when my ex-husband’s attorney and the same GAL recommended I have a psychological evaluation and claimed I wasn’t fit to make custodial decisions on my own. Based on what? The air? The words from a deadbeat dad? 

This was how I felt the day that GAL prepared a motion of the very best fiction in December 2015, and she and a judge decided to handcuff me, put chains around my waist, send the bailiff out for larger ankle cuffs, and place me in the jury box – at a hearing about when Christmas visitation would begin. Seriously, is Friday at 2:00pm good for you? 

Now, you might be thinking I must have done something terrible with my kids for lawyers to do these things to me. There must be some part I’m omitting because people just aren’t that deliberately hateful. 

I had full custody and raised my girls since 2002 when their dad decided to leave us. After I remarried in 2005, my husband and I have provided for their every need and besides the Lord and my husband (a real dad) – the girls are my whole world.

Years and years have gone by of denied medical reimbursement as ordered by the divorce decree, thousands of dollars still in arrears, and for six years his mom paid his child support every month so he wouldn’t go to jail. He never attended a school play or ball game until court began in 2014 and then he put on his game face. 

When I was faced with those claims of needed a psychological evaluation (which were dropped), their teachers wrote character reference letters on my behalf stating they had never even seen my ex-husband in the entire 180 days of school…and then, in 2015-2016, someone decides I’m the bad parent?

I might have been going crazy, or worried to death, or stressed beyond belief at the stories my daughters were telling me about what was happening during visitation, but to imply I wasn’t fit to hold full custody, and to chain me up in order to intimidate and scare me, and threaten to take away my children – I felt like I was holding that letter from Great Benefits. I was a very small person fighting against a system that regularly screwed people for a living. They knew how to file 15 motions of endless paperwork and lies just to overwhelm the system, and me, in hopes that I would give up. 

Note: You may be asking about where my legal representation was. Well, the finest man in the legal community suffered right alongside me. He was also threatened with jail time (he’s been an attorney for 50 years…yes, 50). His health also suffered. He had a hearing and put the GAL on the stand trying to expose her, and even the judge seemed to turn against him.

Apparently, lawyers have a line they may not cross with one another because at the end of the day, they all work in the same courthouse and have to trade favors and keep clients believing there are actually two sides. But, most lawyers are not from the generation mine was from, when integrity for the profession and oath meant something honorable.

My attorney said in his 50 years of family law, he’s never had a case like mine. He could not believe what was allowed – and then sealed tightly away. He toiled and fought for me for three years until he felt he was doing me more harm than good after the judge and other attorneys had threatened him.

Now, I had lost my only ally. The one person who was there in 2002 through 2016, at every hearing and motion, and he had to step aside.

A mutual friend introduced my husband to an attorney who asked to help us, because he knew of the personal corruption and could push forward with holding these people accountable for their unethical behavior. To this day, I’ve never met him. I still have a pending civil case and I’ve never met my new attorney. We’ve only talked by phone and email, and it’s been almost a year since I’ve even heard from him.

I was later told he was an old friend of the judge on my case, so now it appears he “offered” to help me so he could keep tabs on what my intentions were, because they knew I had valid reasons to file ethics complaints, write to the judicial review, and to the bar association. He would constantly tell me not to file a bar complaint against the judge, and to focus on the GAL…she was the guilty one. He even filed a phenomenal motion against the GAL to dispute the orders and judgments against me on 7/8/16. It even had photos.

That motion to set aside (or whatever) the judge’s order was filed that morning and by lunchtime the judge had recused himself.

Because I don’t know the politics of the legal system, I’m not sure if they were closing the blinds, circling the wagons, and trying to get away from this case as quickly as possible, or if that motion will ever get a ruling.

See, when every judge recused themselves, it was assigned to a new county in September 2016. There’s been zero activity or communication since the civil case was reassigned.

I greatly appreciate the 14 months of peace and no visitation my girls needed, especially during my daughter’s senior year, but why did they  bury it? Are they waiting until some statute of limitations passes so those in question cannot be held accountable?

The legal team of Great Benefits looked like seven mob bosses at the table. On the other side you can imagine a young, Matt Damon and Danny DeVito (with no law license), going against attorneys who make a thousand dollars an hour, and the young lawyer is barely scraping by.

With or without money, they were fighting for their client armed with the truth, who was greatly wronged by powerful people, and her son died because of corruption and politics.

You may think at this point that no one died in my case, so it isn’t the same or that serious.

I almost did. Really.

It’s hard and embarrassing to admit how the depression suffocated me to the point that I withdrew from my friends, went to bed as soon as I got home, slept as much as I could, and imagined the relief I would feel if the Lord would just take me out of this world.

They say people who commit suicide don’t really want to die – they just want to escape the pain. I believe that’s true. It’s exactly like the scene in Catching Fire where Katniss and Finnick heard the japperjays, with tortured screams of their loved ones. She could only get down on her knees, cover her ears, and try to block out the sound. The endless code in your brain that recalls a terrible event, or series of events, consumes you and drowns out any other logical thought.

Looking back, it was incredibly selfish to my husband and children to think like this, but the pain from phone calls where they were crying, or the weeks in the summer when they weren’t allowed to talk to friends or family, and I didn’t know what was happening to them…it caused a level of anxiety that I hope to never feel again.

I need to stop now, but because this is a Christian blog, and there is a part 2 backstory coming of all that God was teaching me through this, that I just didn’t realize at the time.

The Rainmaker. What happened with that poor mom who was betrayed? 

She didn’t get a dime.

She did expose their corruption and she bankrupted Great Benefits.

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