Lawsuit

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LAWSUIT

The 1963 case of Marely Family v. Cryoscan was on it's final day. They had worked their way through almost every WDF full member, ending with Jill on the stand.

The counsel for the Plaintiff was Troy S. Dolan, a choice that astonished Femina Caelestis. He was one of the most well-known trial lawyers in America, a hotshot ambulance chaser who typically netted judgments in the high six to mid seven figures. It was still three decades before America began watching court on television for entertainment, but for the 1960's this was still a case with a high media profile. Dolan's mere presence assured it.

In his most recent case he successfully sued a vending machine company for making a machine that was so heavy it tipped over and killed people who rocked it back and forth hoping to get snacks out of it without paying for them. He garnered $375,000 for the bereaved families, $625,000 for his law firm, and required a sticker on all the company's machines that said rocking it back and forth was hazardous to one's health.

In fact, every product disclaimer, from "Warning: Toaster Not A Bath Toy" to "Caution: Coffee May Be Hot" was the result of just such a victory in court by Dolan or someone just like him. Such disclaimers were multiplying to become a blight on the American landscape, an eyesore as unsightly as the forest of billboards along the freeways.

FC was astonished because Dolan was taking this case for free, pro bono. This told Jill that even after her father's death, someone was still very interested in the fiscal annihilation of the WDF. It didn't seem to be the Reformists this time.

Their own lawyer Megan was adequate, but somewhat out of her league when contrasted to Dolan. Behind the "quarterback" Troy Dolan (as a sort of offensive line) was an entire hand-picked team of sub-lawyers and supporting staff, each squad concentrating their talents on some narrow aspect of the case.

All Megan could call upon were two law clerks. Most of her time in the courtroom was spent on damage control, putting out fires after each scorching attack on the WDF. She was doing fine, but it had been a long week.

The morning began with Jill being sworn in. Dolan approached the stand and asked her, I'm interested in CryoScam's general philosophy in all this. Would you say that CryoScam's only purpose is to get filthy rich?

(Dolan would get away with calling it Cyroscam for the whole trial)

We offered April hope, Jill testified. We offered her hope that she could somehow make it intact until the 23rd Century or whatever, some future time when medical science would have a cure for her cancer and they could thaw him out and give her a new life.

And why would they bother to do that?

Curiosity. If we ourselves today found a man who had been frozen since the American Revolution, and knew a way to revive him and cure what ailed him, there are many historians and researchers who would jump at the opportunity to do so.

Is that the only hope you offered Miss Marely? That maybe people would view her as an object of curiosity and raise her from the dead?

A portion of her seven hundred thousand dollars has been invested. It will be quite a nice chunk of change in 2163. Compound interest is a wonderful thing, you see. With a seven percent return it would double twenty times over in two hundred years.

Ah, here we are at the crux of the thing. Money. Exactly what fraction of the seven hundred thousand dollars has been invested this way?

Three hundred thou.

And CryoScam would, of course, manage this investment?

Yes, of course.

What level of education have you attained to, Miss Roland? Masters degree? Doctorate? What?

Megan interrupted here. Relevance, Your Honor!

It goes to background. I'm trying to establish Becky's credentials as a responsible manager of Mr. Marely's money, your Honor, Dolan countered.

Overruled.

High school.

You completed twelfth grade, and you propose to tell this jury that you are qualified to manage an fund, or operate a company specializing in cryonics.

Jill could not detect a question in there, so she merely blinked at him.

Did you bother to inform April Marely of your...lack of higher education?

We offered the cryo, not pieces of paper from schools to impress her.

Your Honor! Dolan said, looking at the judge with a scowl of disgust.

Answer the question, Judge Carl DeMott snapped at her.

Did you inform Miss Marely of your lack of higher education?

No.

What happened to you approximately two months ago?

There was an accident with the liquid nitrogen.

You had a spill.

Correct.

You had a spill and found yourself standing in a puddle of ultra-cold liquid air. Can you tell the court what temperature this puddle was?

More than four hundred degrees below zero.

Four hundred degrees below zero! You tried to run but your feet were frozen so hard and so fast they became dead and useless for locomotion. In the end you had to crawl out of the spill area, you had to sort of hop out of there on three points, because you were trying to at least save your right hand. Isn't that true?

It's all true.

What did this spill cost you?

One hand and two of my lower legs had to be amputated. Frostbite.

Tell me, the place where CryoScam operates, is it zoned for industrial operations involving liquid air?

CryoScan is in a suite of offices, mostly occupied by dentists, medical specialists, and family practice doctors.

Don't you think it is dangerous to conduct cryonics in a place given over to doctor's and dentist's offices, with waiting rooms filled with children?

No.

Why not?

Two of the other suites are leased by dermatologists, and both of them have liquid nitrogen on hand for the treatment of acne.

Dolan let this slide for now. He offered to the court an exhibit, two pictures of a bandaged-up Jill in the hospital which his staff had acquired. He let the jury see the extent of the injuries to Jill. What safety measures had you taken to prevent such a thing from happening?

We had none.

None? Do you realize that OSHA alone would shut CryoScam down for such a violation?

We do now.

Were they informed?

The hospital where we took me informed them, yes.

And what did OSHA do?

They sent an inspector and ordered us to cease operations.

Cease operations. What did that mean for poor April Marely?

Our lawyer Anne Samara secured a stay from a district court judge before April's body could thaw.

So what we have, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is a company called CryoScam promising to keep people frozen until science can cure what ails them, in the hopes of living again, but their own negligence in conforming to Federal safety regulations resulted in a near-fatal accident and threatened to pull the plug on the whole operation! Do you see where her family is coming from, Miss Roland? April Marely doesn't deserve this indignity.

Objection, said Megan, the counsel for the Plaintiff is grandstanding Your Honor.

Sustained.

No further questions Your Honor. The Plaintiff rests.

The defense may cross-examine the witness, said the judge.

Megan stood and took Dolan's place questioning Jill. Take us on a mental tour of the River City site. What would be the centerpiece of a visit there? What would CryoScam be most proud of?

The freezer bank.

Where the corpses would be held?

Yes, room for four of them. And they are kept cold by a $20,000 air compressor and refrigerator, with its backup.

You make your own liquid nitrogen on site?

Yes, we maintain the supply of liquid nitrogen lost by evaporation and purging.

If there was a blackout, how would all of this be powered?

By batteries, and arrays of solar cells on the roof that power everything at the site. The suite, in fact, makes more power than we use from the power grid. We've phase-matched our inverter to the line juice and the meter runs backward. We don't get a power bill every month, we get a credit.

Megan produced one of these bills showing a credit of $43 as another exhibit for the jury to examine.

Now, the counsel for the Plaintiff took every opportunity this week to call your company 'CryoScam.' Was deception involved in any way?

No. Everything is on the up-and-up. CryoScan was fully prepared to take charge of April Marely's corpse and we are still capable of keeping it perfectly entombed and uncorrupted as long for as we plan to be around.

Which is for how long?

Which is for forever. You see, we don't think in terms of a single lifetime. That is, what I think, makes us uniquely qualified to offer these services. We have the long view. At CyroScan we are of the sincere belief that we are April Marely's best shot at a new life.

The defense rests.

The judge ordered a recess before the counsel for the Plaintiff rose to give his closing statement.

When the court reconvened, Dolan paused for a full minute to compose his thoughts and deliberately tried to create dramatic tension. By forcing the court to wait for him he heightened the impression of his own importance.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I know it's been a long week for you. Let's go over what we do know about CryoScam before getting to the crux of the issue.

Only one employee of the company, Morgan Brooklyn, is pursuing a college degree at all. And that degree will be in the liberal arts. If she graduates, she will qualified to write a review of a play or critique a modern abstract painting, but she will not be qualified in medicine, not physics, not engineering, nor any field that would be connected in any way with cryonics. And she is certainly not qualified in any of those things now.

The company is run by Kimberly Lokken, who testified here yesterday that she has only completed eleventh grade. She doesn't even have a high school diploma! Not only that, she seemed to feel it was not a very important thing for April Marely to know CryoScam was run by a high school dropout before she spent her seven hundred thousand dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, your little mental red warning flags should be waving all up and down right now.

Another employee of the company is Becky Roland, a high school dropout herself, who is still recovering from a completely preventable liquid nitrogen spill. Prior to working for CryoScam, according to Robyn's testimony, she and Robyn made their living in a girl garage band called Hunky-Dory. That's quite a resume! No other work experience at all, which probably explains their incompetence in handling dangerous materials.

You see, CryoScam promised April Marely that they'd keep her corpse frozen for two hundred years, possibly more, but within one year they'd almost been shut down by OSHA due to sloppy work that resulted in a mishap that landed Becky in the emergency room.

Some would say what we are dealing with here is some kind of wierd religious cult. A cult that is trying to raise money by suckering terminally ill patients in their final weeks of life with pie-in-the-sky promises of rebirth. But that is another battle for another day.

You six people have been selected from a cross-section of citizens here in King Country to do only one thing, and that is to decide the facts in this case. You must decide, was April Marely of sound mind when she liquidated all of her assets into cash in the last week of her earthly existence? Was she of sound mind when she designated that her body, upon death, was to be given over to CryoScam? Was she of sound mind when he directed that more than seven hundred thousand dollars of cash be paid to CryoScam rather than to her own sons and daughters?

You have also heard the testimony of doctors and specialists who told you of the common occurrence of growing mental impairment as this particular type of cancer progresses. We can't say for sure that is indeed what happened. That is up to you, as you carry out your duty as jurors, to decide.

Now, it is not dishonoring the memory of April Marely to recognize that cancerous clumps carried in the blood to her brain may have grown and caused dementia in her final days. But it would dishonor her memory to let her cancer-ridden dead body sit in a freezer for two hundred years, wrapped in foil, making her the permanent laughingstock of others and the butt of jokes and a source of furtive whispers.

The Marely family seeks to put this matter to rest in a way that will preserve the dignity of April Marely. Her family seeks final closure. On their behalf, I ask you to give that to them. Thank you.

Megan was still flipping through the disorganized pile of yellow legal paper on her desk when the judge prompted her to begin her remarks. She stood up and cleared her throat, reluctant to begin as though caught unprepared.

Yes, Your Honor. Ladies and gentlemen, in the last five days we've lost our way. This is not a criminal trial, it's a civil suit filed by the Marely family, because they didn't like the way Mommy wrote her will.

Miss Lokken, Miss Roland, and the other ladies employed by CyroScan are frankly outraged. They are not on trial for their religious beliefs, nor is April Marely on trial, post mortem, for adopting those beliefs in the last days of her life. They all acted in good faith and did nothing illegal. All the I's were dotted and the T's crossed. The state federal governments got their cut right off the top in Death Taxes. Surely April Marely had the right to decide what to do with what was left over.

Look at the twists and turns we've taken to shore up their only defense, their silly assertion that none of the ladies at CryoScan should be engaged in this endeavor because none of them have a piece of paper from an accredited college with a cryonics course of instruction. I ask you, how is that possible, when cryonics itself is so experimental?

What happened to the America I thought I lived in? The America where Thomas Edison could drop out of school, yet go on to invent the electric light, the phonograph, and the motion picture?

No, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must turn your attention to the real question here. And that is nothing more or less than this: Did April Marely have the right, when she in good faith, with a duly witnessed and legally signed will, directed the final disposition of her assets and the fate of her body?

You see, the Marelys are frustrated. They had no way to steal from Mommy when she was alive. But they could try stealing from her behind her back, when April was dead and could not lift a finger to stop them. That is the real reason we are in court today.

They refuse to treat the final wishes of their mother as sacred, with all the accompanying rights. If they succeed, you the jury will be setting a dangerous precedent. If the sons and daughters and great aunts and third cousins of a rich man or woman who dies have their hand out and don't like the outcome of the legally executed division of the estate, and if there is a history of the slightest hint of eccentricity in that man or woman, the door will be wide open for frivolous challenges against his or her final wishes expressed in a legal will.

Stop and think for a moment. Is there any instance in your life where you have done something out of the ordinary? Perhaps you've driven barefoot. Maybe you've tried to smoke banana peels or peanut shells because you heard they were hallucinogenic. Would you like those things to be the basis for an ungrateful son or daughter you've cut out of your will to challenge your decision to leave everything to your spouse alone?

In April Marely's case the issue is far more important. When she closed her eyes in death, she died hoping to open her eyes again, maybe in fifty years, maybe in one hundred years. CryoScan offers her best, her only chance of waking up from the cold sleep of death, as she so desperately hoped she would.

But on the other hand, if her family succeeds in pulling her body out of cryo and putting her into the ground or cremating her, her hope is buried with her. Indeed, if that happens, her hope died the moment she died.

From the vigorous way this was pursued in court this week one can't help but think that April might have detected a certain eagerness in her family as death approached, and this is why she changed her will. Without hard evidence it is impossible to say. But please give her the benefit of the doubt. On behalf of April Marely I ask you to affirm her final wishes and keep her hope for a second life alive. Thank you.

The jury deliberated for all of two hours, long enough to scarf down the pizza delivered by the bailiff and have a few rounds of voting. The issue was never really in doubt. They found for the Plaintiff, the Marely family.

For the primary judgement the family was to recieve Mrs. Marely's $720,000 and her body back, plus CryoScan had to pay for all the funeral arrangements. They wanted a decent burial, to bring them "closure" as Dolan put it. By all accounts Dolan got $400K from that sum.

Punitive damages were also awarded. The Marelys wanted to put CryoScan out of business forever. No more ripping off terminally ill patients with false promises of immortality. The cryo equipment was to be ripped out and sold at auction, although it was not clear who would want to purchase it.

But Cryoscan did not go out of buisness. The trial, in fact, turned out to be the best advertisement for CryoScan money could buy.

Samantha Addison had watched the entire trial in person. Not wishing to be seen talking with CryoScan, she was rolled out of the courtroom by one assistant, but another assistant approached Robyn in the courtroom as the trial ended and asked if she would come speak with Samantha in private that very afternoon.

Samantha could walk on her own but the wheelchair was to avoid as much exertion as possible. When she was in the wheelchair her breathing was assisted by an oxygen bottle and a pair of tubes that up her nose.

Let me tell you about myself, she told Robyn. I'm in my seventies, and I'm worth about $40 million dollars.

Those are the two most important things you could start out with, Robyn told her. Are you shocked to hear that?

No, I expected to hear that. I've been watching CryoScan. I think I know you well. But let me go on. I've had high-blood pressure all my life but I didn't catch it until recently. This resulted in an enlarged left ventricle of my heart that caused a worsening series of coronary thromboses and close calls in the operating room.

I'm glad you have been so lucky until now, Robyn said. But it's a situation that can't possibly last for long.

My doctors assure me the best medical care my money can buy will only give me six months to live, tops. I am marked for death.

Something tells me you're not a woman who likes to give up.

Let's say death is an unhealthy obsession with me. Your unfortunate loss in court has probably left you penniless. I'm offering capital to start CryoScan up again.

Do you have a family, Samantha?

Yes, and you might say they would be just as aggressive as the Marelys in pursuing another trial of CryoScan should it come to that.

You saw what happened. Do you want to risk it?

I'm offering capital for secret cryonics. That is, cryonics for people who are afraid their families will do precisely what happened to April Marely today.

So you didn't buy Dolan's attacks on our ability and willingness to carry it out? You didn't buy Dolan's line that we are a cryo scam?

No. Like I said, I've been watching you. My judgment is that you're fully serious about this and fully capable of carrying it out. And I want to be your next customer.

So Samantha Addison's money became new operating capital for CryoScan. The first thing Femina Caelestis did was acquire all their own equipment back at the auction, for 30 cents on the dollar.

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