The Many Faces Of Fredo, Or, Due Diligence When The Godfather Comes Knocking – Part One: The Club Owner

by Tara J. Lamer

Scope is a dirty word. It is often the most critical set of decisions you will make with regard to the job you are asking your investigator to perform, and as you know, it is a primary factor in the final bill.


Unfortunately, there are two sets of realities at play. First, life is not like the movies, where the investigation proceeds with no discussion of budget and clients are only too happy to provide carte blanche as long as the truth comes out and the boy saves the girl and the innocent are freed and the evildoers are exposed.  The second reality is that litigators and investigators sometimes use the same words, but behind those words are completely separate meanings.


Making decisions on how far to take an investigation – particularly in the context of budgets – is not the most pleasant task, but this series is designed to flesh out the ramifications of where and how you determine scope.


So, let’s say your client is trying to expand its operations in the Las Vegas area, needs space, and needs local businesspeople on the ground. Your client phones, has a name, says “he seems like a good enough guy, we had drinks at his club, his wife is super hot too,” and then says “we need background on him, you know, for the file.  And stuff.”


You call an investigator; you give the name you wrote down, and say “we need background on this person.” You cringe, because you know the next thing you are going to hear is “What kind of scope are we talking about”, followed by a litany of annoying questions that you may not have thought about and do not really care about except you want to know what it will cost and you want to mark this task off your list and get back to something that is more interesting.  (We get it, by the way.)


Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking into how to craft a due diligence investigation on this club owner, how because of the sometime language barrier between investigators and attorneys you could find yourself inadvertently diverted from important information, and ultimately, how to get to the bottom of who this person really is.


By the way, the name on your list is Frederico Corleone.

Tara J. Lamer

Tara joined Smith & Carson as an Investigator in 2014, and focuses on product liability and business litigation. Prior to joining Smith & Carson, she represented Fortune 100 clients in products and premises liability cases. Tara has extensive experience in fact and expert witness development, alternate causation and non-use defenses, multi-jurisdictional case management, e-discovery, and mass tort technology development. She has taught continuing education on effectively defending exigency demands and wrongful death cases filed in high-volume jurisdictions. Tara is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law and is a licensed Attorney in Missouri. She holds Private Investigator licenses in Missouri and Kansas.