Valentine’s Day is this week and nothing says true love like loss of consortium depositions that are a little too vague about key details. Years ago, I represented a store concerning a trip and fall. Wife fell and filed suit, Husband claimed loss of consortium. Wife was Ukrainian, Husband was American, and they lived in the Las Vegas area. When loss of consortium is asserted, I sometimes start the conversation in deposition by asking how the couple met. It’s the type of question that most couples have heard many times during their relationship and can easily answer, or so I thought.
Wife was deposed first. My thoughts as I was asking questions are in italics between quotes.
8:3 Q. [Wife], when did you move to the United
5 A. January 15, 2009.
6 Q. And why did you choose to move to the United
8 A. Because I got married, and my husband lived
9 in America.
7:3 Q. And when did you get married?
4 A. April, 2009.
Yawn, basic fact gathering.
29:18 Q. We’ll start talking about the fall. When you
19 moved to the United States, did you move to Las Vegas?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. When did you arrive in Las Vegas?
22 A. January 15, 2009.
23 Q. Did you have to learn English once you
24 arrived here? Or did you already speak English?
25 A. Learned here.
30:1 Q. Congratulations. That’s very impressive.
2 A. Thank you.
3 Q. When you arrived, you married [Husband] the
4 following April; correct?
5 A. Yes.
Wait, what? She moved from Ukraine to the United States to marry her husband but didn’t speak any English before she arrived? Ummm… what?
47:20 Q. How did you meet [Husband]?
21 A. Suddenly.
22 Q. Was he —
23 A. I didn’t make any plans.
24 Q. Was he working in Ukraine?
25 A. No.
48:1 Q. How did you meet him?
2 A. Like suddenly.
3 THE WITNESS: By accident.
4 BY MR. LOWRY:
5 Q. Were you set up on a date with [Husband]?
6 Did you meet on the internet?
7 A. On internet.
8 Q. Does [Husband] speak Russian or Ukrainian?
9 A. No.
10 Q. How did you speak with him at first if you
11 only learned English when you moved here?
12 A. In my office I had a secretary who was also a
14 Q. Do you remember what internet site you used
15 to meet [Husband]?
16 A. No.
17 Q. I was wondering if Match.com had U.S./Ukraine
18 as a selection?
19 [PLAINTIFFS’ COUNSEL]: I met my wife on Match.com.
20 THE WITNESS: Yes?
21 [PLAINTIFFS’ COUNSEL]: Yes.
22 THE WITNESS: Actually many friends ask me,
23 and I ask many people who met people on internet what
24 website you use because that I think very difficult.
25 Match.com very — I don’t know.
So, you met the love of your life online but you don’t even remember the name of the website that helped connect you with your soul mate? Your attorney freely volunteers that information but you can’t? Even if your secretary was helping you translate while you were in Ukraine, how’d you communicate once you moved to the US since you and husband don’t speak the same languages? No way, this can’t be a…
Then I deposed Husband. He was even vaguer, and did not present well. He presented much like the used-car salesman he claimed he once was.
6:19 Q. How did you meet [Wife]?
20 A. I met [Wife] on the internet.
21 Q. We asked her the same question. Do you
22 remember the site you used?
23 A. I don’t actually, no. I don’t remember the
24 name of the site exactly.
25 Q. And when did you meet? Or I’m sorry. When
7:1 did you first begin at least writing online?
2 A. I would say it must be about six or seven
3 years ago.
4 Q. Sometime in 2005, 2006?
5 A. I would say that’s a good guess. We’re
6 married about four years.
7 Q. Okay. And at the time what were — were you
8 employed during that time?
9 A. I was, yeah.
10 Q. What were you doing?
11 A. I was operating an automobile franchise.
12 Q. Would I know it?
13 A. No.
14 Q. Was it in Las Vegas?
15 A. No. It was in Providence, Rhode Island.
Seriously? You can’t remember the website either?
7:22 Q. When did you move to Las Vegas? Month and
23 year would be fine, or year if that’s all you can
25 A. I think about four to five years ago.
8:1 Q. 2007? 2008?
2 A. I guess so.
3 Q. Okay.
4 A. I should know when we were married, but I’m
6 Q. Shortly before you were married?
7 A. That’s bad not to know when you were married.
8 Yeah, shortly before we were married.
Dude, flubbing a wedding anniversary would get anyone in trouble, let alone someone asserting loss of consortium. So then I asked…
14:13 Q. Do you speak Russian or Ukrainian?
14 A. Nyet.
15 Q. I’ll be the interpreter. Is that no?
16 A. No. Just very bare understanding of Russian
17 or Ukrainian.
To summarize: 1) The couple met online; 2) Husband lived in Rhode Island and spoke only English; 3) Wife lived in Ukraine and spoke only Russian and Ukrainian. She learned English only after arriving in the United States to marry her husband; 4) Neither can describe how they met or generally anything about their relationship before they were married. Love comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, and forms. It is also found in innumerable ways. However, I’m not sure that “love” is what was described in these depositions. Now, it may also be that I’m just old fashioned. Maybe Husband and Wife spoke the language of love. Maybe they had a relationship like Jason Derulo described:
Been around the world, don’t speak their language
But your booty don’t need explaining
All I really need to understand is
When you—you talk dirty to me
Or perhaps they approached life like Pitbull & Chris Brown described in International Love.
Was I going to argue to a jury that Wife was a mail order bride? No. If Plaintiffs’ counsel actually presented the loss of consortium claim at trial, I would present these same facts to a jury and then let them draw their own conclusions as to how much consorting had been lost. Either way, facts like these do not make for a particularly strong loss of consortium claim, or a particularly romantic Valentine’s Day.