BENTON – “I am an unpleasant old man,” attorney Bruce N. Cook of Belleville said at a deposition on April 12 after calling the witness’s lawyer a “cheat,” and a day after he sparred with another deponent in the same case, calling him a “hot shot.”
Cook filed transcripts of the depositions in U.S. district court on April 27, on behalf of client Richard Clark of Cobden.
Clark claims he slipped on a recycling machine and suffered injuries in 2013. He sued the machine’s owner, River Metals Recycling, and its builder, Sierra International Machinery.
The lawsuit was initially filed in St. Clair County circuit court, but defendants removed it to district court.
Last year, Cook moved to reopen discovery for the purpose of tracing the machine’s assembly.
He claimed in March that Sierra confused Magistrate Judge Reona Daly, and that Sierra hoodwinked lawyers in his firm and River Metals counsel James Craney of Edwardsville.
Daly denied the motion to reopen discovery.
Cook appealed to District Judge Phil Gilbert, who reversed Daly and granted depositions of three Sierra employees.
Cook deposed John Sacco on April 11, in Los Angeles.
A summary of the deposition shows that as Cook began asking about ladders and the width of a machine, he struggled with a laptop computer.
Cook: That’s the wrong ladder now. Do you see the green one? That’s you. This ladder comes up and folds in.
He made a gesture and said, “Like that.”
Sacco: Does it?”
Cook: Yes. That’s on your RB 6000, the last one you sold.
Cook: Here’s the ladder. This is – oh crap.
Cook: That’s the RB 6000 S, rear platform ladder.
Sacco: This is the RB 6000 S?
Sacco: How do I know that?”
Cook: I just told you that.
Sacco: I’m not going to believe you.
Sacco: I’m not believing you for the sake of I’m under oath. You’re baiting me.
Cook: No, I don’t ever lie.
After an interruption about document numbers…Cook: So you think I’m a liar, do you?
Sacco: I do not.
Cook: Between you and I, that’s half of us.
Cook asked about a trade show on April 14, and Sacco said the exhibit hall would open Monday night and the closing ceremony would be Thursday night. Cook asked if it was open to the public, and Sacco said he had to buy a ticket.
Cook: Are they expensive? I could probably afford it.
Sacco: You probably can. You’re an attorney.
Cook: I can afford it.
Sacco: I know you can.
Cook showed Sacco a document about the RB 6000.
Sacco: We didn’t design this. It’s all in Italian.
Cook: It’s not all in Italian. A portion of it says plaintiff’s exhibit E.
Cook asked if he could see that, and Sacco responded that he could; Cook asked if he did see it, and Sacco said, “Yes, sir.”
Cook: Do you know who gave that to you, hot shot?
He asked Sacco if he said it was a diagram of an RB 6000 S, and he said he did.
Cook: Right, and you knew it wasn’t, didn’t you?
Sacco: What it says here doesn’t necessarily mean what it is. I’ve had history with the Italians. They make mistakes all the time.
Cook: Maybe it’s not 94 inches wide.
Sacco said he never measured it. He said the rear of the machine said 96 inches.
Cook said he could go to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and measure it, and Sacco said he could.
Cook asked if that morning, he said it was 94 inches wide.
Cook: And now you changed your testimony.
He asked Sacco if he went outside and talked to his counsel, John Socolow of White Plains, New York.
Sacco said he didn’t talk to him about this.
Cook: You went outside and then you changed -
Socolow objected and Cook said, “Now you changed. Boy you changed.”
Cook: Didn’t you say all morning that it was 94 inches?
Sacco: The front neck. That’s been the discussion all day, sir.
Cook: Even though it says RB 6000, you say it’s an RB 6000 S?”
Sacco said he did, and Cook said, “This morning you said that an RB 6000 S trailer was 94 inches?”
Sacco: Where the pumping unit, where it attaches.
Cook asked if he thought the transcript about what he said that morning would say that, and Sacco said he did.
Cook: You do? And if it doesn’t say that, you’re a liar. Is that right?
Sacco: No. I’ll retract my comment then.
Cook: You’ll change your mind about what you said?
Socolow objected, and Cook said, “Boy you’re something.”
Sacco: Don’t throw that at me, sir.
Cook: Don’t do what?
Sacco: You threw that at me.
Cook: Oh, did it hurt you?
Sacco: No, but you threw it at me.
Cook said he was sorry, and Socolow said, “Objection. Please.”
On April 12, Cook deposed Sierra employee Jose Pereyra in Los Angeles.
In an interruption about document numbers, Cook told Socolow he didn’t like him commenting on evidence in the record or talking to his client on breaks.
Cook: We don’t do that in the Midwest because it’s against the law.
Then he saw he had a wrong document number, and he said “oops”.
Cook: I was looking past it before John interrupted me…Thank you John, before I found the page…You’re smiling? You think that’s funny?
Socolow: I’m not smiling.
Cook: I don’t want you interrupting me.
Socolow: Just continue the deposition.
Cook: Don’t tell me what to do.
Socolow: Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice.
Cook: I can talk to you any tone that I want, you cheat.
He said to Peyrera, “Now you’ve seen I’m an unpleasant old man.”
On April 16, Cook deposed Emory Olds in Las Vegas.
Cook said it appeared that ladders were optional on the equipment.
He asked Olds how to get one with a ladder, and Olds said he didn’t know.
Cook said it appeared that the ladder had to be attached to the trailer.
Olds said he couldn’t tell what it was attached to.
Cook: You could be right but I’m not sure. Is that what you’re saying?
Cook: So I need to take a peek at it if I want to know?
Cook: You say your clients are good old boys. They won’t sic their Rottweiler on me, you think? You know us sailors, we fight back. The first bite is best.
Olds: You may want to let someone know where you’re going to be.
Cook: No, I do understand that and I understand that you old boys down South, down there, I hear you’re armed…We’ve been through that before, haven’t we, and you know where Sherman was from, don’t you?
Gilbert has set trial to start July 30.