Court of Chancery, Dover, Delaware. Monday, May 5.
“Al rise,” the court clerk shouted.
The courtroom, filled to overflowing, mainly by members of the media, anxious to witness the fate of Kerri King, the Iacardi Santa Claus, was silenced. Only the muted shuffle of people rising to a standing position could be heard.
Judge William H. McCarthy entered the courtroom through a polished mahogany door and descended into his black leather chair at the bench.
“This court is now in session,” the clerk announced. “The Honorable William H. McCarthy presiding... Please be seated.”
McCarthy scanned his audience as they returned to their seats. He saw the Plaintiff, represented by Sydney Mortimer, and flanked by Peter Tavaris, speaker for the Iacardi Shareholders. Jeffrey Wheeler and Walter Deaks were seated immediately behind. All four men were salivating over their expected victory and the total financial demise of Kerri King. McCarthy’s eyes shifted to focus on Marsha Cooper, counsel for the Defendant. “Where is your client, Miss Cooper?” he asked in an authoritative voice befitting only a judge.
“Cooper stood and faced McCarthy. “My client wishes to convey her sincere regrets, Your Honor. Circumstances beyond her control have made it impossible for her to be here today,” she replied, publicly confirming what McCarthy already knew. Kerri had earlier telephoned Cooper, and with the benefit of lawyer/client privilege, told her of her connection to Sandra Schafer, her plan to blow the whistle on Enerco, her confrontation with Jeffrey Wheeler in Toronto, and the horrifying anonymous email she had recently received. In addition to being shocked by Kerri’s disclosure, Cooper had strongly advised her not to attend the court session or even to travel to the United States. Cooper, in a subsequent and highly confidential conversation, had informed McCarthy of her client’s dilemma. McCarthy, a fair and honest man, had agreed with Cooper’s decision. He had further urged Cooper to inform the authorities, even though he understood the risks of so doing.
“So be it,” McCarthy boomed. “We shall proceed without her.” He paused to examine his notes, then peered over his reading glasses at his audience. “I have heard and considered arguments from both parties in this case. Furthermore, I have listened to closing statements from counsel representing each of the Parties... Before I render my verdict I wish to reiterate that this case has troubled me from its beginning. The fact that it has continued to this stage has been in spite of my recommendations to the contrary. Be that as it may, I have made a decision... I find for the Plaintiff,” he said, causing numerous gasps from the audience and huge smiles to appear at the Plaintiff’s table. “I award damages in the amount of one dollar. Costs shall be borne by the respective Parties,” he declared, then slammed his gavel onto its sound block. “This case is closed.”
The courtroom’s decorum was instantly shattered by cheers, whistles and applause. The expressions on the faces of the four representatives of the Plaintiff reflected shock and disbelief. Marsha Cooper struggled to restrain a smile. She opened her cellphone and texted an email to Kerri. “Good news and bad news... First, the bad news. You lost the case. Now, the good news. McCarthy awarded one dollar to the Plaintiff. Congratulations. You are now a wealthy woman, if, and only if you sell your shares of Enerco now. The lockup period ends tomorrow. Give me the word and I’ll dump them for you.”