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Although I have tried many cases to juries, I have never encountered more intelligent, educated or thoughtful jurors than those who decided Thomas Edward Vives vs. Linda Hull. The citizens of Los Alamos County have every reason to be proud of them.
During the trial, the attorney for Hull repeatedly stated that unless the jury awarded Hull at least $135,000, Ted Vives would win. But the jury did not find that Vives harmed Hull in any way whatsoever. With respect to Hull’s claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, the jury did not find that Vives committed any of the many acts of vandalism and harassment of which Hull accused him, accusations that Hull has, like a pillow full of feathers tossed in the wind, spread far and wide in this community. Nor did the jury agree with Hull that Vives brought this lawsuit for any other reason than to prove the falsity of those same accusations.
Finally, the jury acquitted Vives of any attempt to assault Hull in the Coffee Booth. The jury rejected each of Hull’s claims.
On the contrary, the jury found that Hull’s statements about Vives were false. However, the jury did not find Hull liable for these defamatory statements because she did not know any better. The jury also found that, although Hull may have been afraid of Vives in the Coffee Booth restaurant, Vives had no intention to cause such fear. In that instance, as Hull admitted, all Vives said was, “Ladies, I hope you come to our concert.” Although Vives’ statement was a little theatrical and perhaps even sarcastic, he did nothing to suggest that, as Hull falsely claimed, he wanted her to be afraid that he was about to strike her.
Vives can only hope that, in the future, Hull will understand that when you say terrible things about someone, you should have pretty good evidence that your statements are true. Most of us feel bad even to think a bad thing about someone, only to discover that we were wrong.
I once believed (without ever saying it) that someone had stolen something of mine. When I learned it wasn’t true, I felt horrible for thinking it.
For most of us, it is much worse when we’ve actually accused someone, only to learn that we were wrong. In the courtroom, Hull displayed no pangs of conscience at all for the awful accusations she made against Vives.
We hope she develops some of the conscience that most of us share.
Paul D. Mannick
Attorney for Vives
Santa Fe, N.M. 87505