Finally, in a December 1994 hearing, Judge George Nielsen told Clemency, "The firm does not bill people just for asking for representation. I see a bill for $48 from lawyers; I presume that there was some consultation."

Indeed there was. Clemency produced a copy of the letter to Warner prepared in 1983 by a Streich Lang attorney that states, ". . . this firm has been instructed and is commencing preparation of a draft of deed restrictions for the above-referenced property, which restrictions will limit the commercial uses . . ." and ". . . this firm will then proceed to put the deed restrictions in final form."

Clemency did not respond to repeated requests to be interviewed.
According to Warner attorney Vining, this was the first time the Warner side had seen such a letter. Clemency stated in court that he was under the impression that the file had been sent.

On May 1, Judge Nielsen disqualified Streich Lang from representing Bank One in Warner's bankruptcy. The firm remains counsel to Bank One in the civil cases, however, which Warner's plans to contest.

Ron Warner would like to have the money back that he says was stolen out of his business. He's also asked for punitive damages against the bank. He says he plans to create a fund to help other businesses in a similar situation bring legal action against the bank. Warner's recently sent out a copy of Guthrie's January affidavit, along with a cover letter explaining how the company alleges its business was stolen, to about 500 customers and suppliers.

Warner's has hired new designers and is putting the business back together. In August, it plans to move to a new location in Scottsdale, assuming the court doesn't rule in favor of liquidation.

"It's just survival," says Ron Warner. "The first thing I have to do is keep this corporation alive. There are just so many hurdles to jump through."

Ebbett and Guthrie started their own design business with two or three other former Warner's employees about a month after Warner tossed them out.

Guthrie settled with the Warners for about $40,000 in a $2.5 million judgment against him.

Perhaps more important to Ron Warner than the money is his name and reputation. And that's what he seems to be fighting for the most.

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It always warms my heart to see how a small business can develop into a million-dollar enterprise with sheer hard work and talent. But when that same business shatters, the feeling can be crushing. Still, this incident at Warner’s not only opened doors to queries, but also opened eyes to the dirty world of money-making.

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