A senior executive with National Geographic was asked some visa-related questions a few years ago by American government officials concerning a British filmmaker working for the company in the U.S. The company official noted her repeated signature on visa renewal applications for the filmmaker.
It was forged. National Geographic immediately fired the filmmaker.
That individual subsequently went through what she termed an "emotional roller-coaster" ride marked by shame, confusion, legal challenges and, ultimately, vindication.
Specifically, her singular experience concluded recently in an American court room, where a jury awarded her nearly $2 million in legal malpractice damages for what she suffered as the result of her firing and subsequent challenges.
Karen Bass lost her job with National Geographic as a wildlife filmmaker because, indeed, her visa applications were repeatedly forged.
But not by Bass. Rather, a lawyer working for an American law firm with experience in specialized visa matters unlawfully signed Bass's visa petition, using the name of the aforementioned company executive.
And then she did so again, in fact, repeatedly over a number of years.
That fact eventually assumed cornerstone importance in the litigation filed by the filmmaker. Among other things, Bass's complaint alleged negligent representation and fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Legal counsel for the defendant law firm argued at trial that the matter was blown out of proportion, and that forgery was constantly raised "to demonize" the lawyer who affixed the signature of the National Geographic official to visa documents.
Clearly, jury members were not impressed with that rhetoric. They saw the forgery as a criminal act that immediately and materially harmed Bass, and their verdict clearly reflected a resolve to meaningfully compensate her for the injuries she suffered.