Part XXXV: Seeing Stars - Part 2
Time has convinced me of one thing. Television is for appearing on, not looking at.
~ Noel Coward, attributed
The Case of the Underground...
I received a call from the West Los Angeles police a short time later stating that they had set up a hearing for the matter. They had found Miss Club Rat through her friend who had given me the telephone number. On the day of the hearing, I arrived and saw Miss Club Rat only briefly and would never have recognized her as she had completely changed her appearance since the night in question. She looked petite, no make up, no hair style, a simple dress - like an innocent little girl - actually Miss Club Rat had transformed herself into Little Bo Peep. We were interviewed separately. I was then told that the court would take it under submission and be in touch with me.
I received a call from someone at the courthouse/police station later and was told that they would not be assigning it as a case because they didn't feel that a jury would believe that that frail looking young woman could put that dent in the roof of my car. They would just be wasting the taxpayers' money. So they told me that my best choice was to file a civil action against her.
Well, I think you have come to know me well enough by now to not expect me to give up on something I believed in. Perhaps it was because she was so young (they told me she was 21 years old) that I felt that Miss Club Rat aka Little Bo Peep needed to take responsibility for her actions and not go beating up on people unnecessarily in parking structures. Yes, she needed to be taught a lesson...
I filed in small claims court and hired an attorney's service or sheriff to serve her. But...they couldn't find her. She seemed to move around, from one address to another, and they couldn't find an address to serve the papers.
I don't recall what I was feeling at the time. Perhaps I was about ready to let it go. Or maybe I just released it enough from my consciousness to allow the Universe to take over investigative duty. :-) In any case, what happened next was really a surprise and completely out of the blue...
I got a phone call from People's Court. Yep, the original People's Court with that famous Judge Wapner presiding - a real character. Researchers for the show would examine small claims filings in Southern California and approach the plaintiff and defendant in interesting cases. The producers offered to have me appear on the show and have Judge Wapner mediate if I would drop the action and be bound by Wapner's decision. And if I won the case, I would be paid the amount of the judgment by the show immediately, not by the defendant. In fact, the losing party would also be paid to appear on the show. Therefore, I was assured of getting payment and not having to go through the hassle of collecting my judgment. You probably know that if you win a judgment in small claims court, that doesn't mean you'll ever see your money. I had filed in Small Claims for the estimate I received for my car - $1,000 - plus the medical bill which was modest and the expert witness (explained below). In order to fix the dent in the roof of my car, the entire roof had to be repainted and that was the major expense.
I told the producers it seemed like a great deal as far as I was concerned, but they would have to locate the defendant and she would have to agree to appear. They already had. She agreed. After all, she had everything to gain - she would never have to pay me if she lost and she would make a few bucks on top of that. I'd say that was a pretty darn good deal for someone in her position. Funny how she showed up when TV Land called. Those TV research guys are good.
People's Court cases had witty, pun-related names and ours was no different. It was The Case of the Underground...(something or other - I can't recall). I have the videotape in a closet and would have to watch it to get the name.
I wasn't going to take any chances on losing this deal - not in front of millions of daytime viewers. :-) I promptly set out to find an expert witness to support my claim and found an accident reconstruction expert who could explain how Little Bo Peep caused the dent in the roof of my car. I think it cost me $100 to have him appear with me as a witness. Interestingly, I had never watched People's Court but everyone knew Judge Wapner's reputation as a television personality and how tough he could be. I was prepared.
The day came to show up at the People's Court studios. My expert witness was there and I parked my car in back of the studio as instructed so the Judge could look at it if he wanted to. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Miss Club Rat aka Little Bo Peep - she had again transformed her physical appearance for her television debut.. She was now Ms. Daytime Television Star...
To be continued...
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