My Letter to Honeywell International

Last October, I sent a six page letter to the Chairman/CEO of Honeywell International in Morristown, New Jersey, as my brother worked for them for the last 3 years of his life.  I explained, in detail, what had happened to him and the trauma my parents and I were subjected to by one of Honeywell’s employees.  I also asked him, if he could, to explain why, aside from the 10 co-workers that sat with my parents and I at our hotel in NJ a few days after losing my brother, we never heard anything from the company that my brother worked with for 3 years, no phone calls, no condolence cards, not even a simple e-mail expressing sympathy.

Not surprisingly, I have yet to receive a response.  I’m not even sure if he ever read the letter or even held the envelope.  For all I know, it could have been intercepted and thrown out or shredded by a certain “someone.”

So, as what would have been my brother’s 38th birthday approaches next month, I have decided to post the letter I sent to Honeywell on this Blog.  I have replaced the names of the Honeywell employees with their initials.

I ask you, as I did the Chairman/CEO, please read the letter, out of respect to my brother, thank you…

Honeywell International
101 Columbia Road
Mailstop – M6/LM
Morristown, NJ 07962

Mr. “C”,

My name is Joel Vine and my brother, David, worked for Honeywell International in Morristown, New Jersey for approximately 3 years as a Human Resource Technology Project Manager up until his death in November 2009.  I have held off in writing you since my brother’s death, mostly for my family’s sake in our bid to bring my brother back to Los Angeles to be re-buried next to our grandparents, and because our attorney was told by your attorney, Ms. “D” not to contact anyone with Honeywell.  But, I cannot hold my tongue or my feelings any longer and need to express my families’ and my own feelings.  I respectfully ask that you read what I have to say, out of respect for my brother.

A little background to begin with.  In September 2008, my brother married his former Honeywell secretary, who had been promoted to the HR Technology Unit Secretary position, “B.”  My parents and I flew to Las Vegas to witness the nuptials, where we met “B.” for the first time the day before the wedding. From day one of their marriage, “B’s” goal was to erase everything related to California out of David’s life, including his entire family, as she was paranoid that he would leave her and move back to California.  If only he had done so, he would still be alive.

Five months into the marriage, they separated, with the intent to file for an uncontested divorce in February 2010; they had to wait a year to file, according to the state laws of New Jersey, which do not recognize separation, only divorce.  This all can be confirmed by many people, including the psychologist David began seeing after marrying “B.”  “B.” had long since moved out of their apartment and moved back in with her mother.  David often worked from home, so he could avoid running into “B.” at the office

On November 13, 2009, around 7pm (California time) “B.” called us and told my father that she had taken David to the emergency room, as he was having trouble breathing.  My father asked if we should fly out, and she retorted a quick, “No.”  Saying that David was a strong man and we were not needed.  As soon as my father hung up the phone, he told me to find the number of the hospital, Morristown Memorial, as “B.” did not provide it to us. 

My father was soon on the phone with the doctor treating David, and he said that David was brought to the hospital around 10am, some 12 hours before we were called, was diagnosed with Double Pneumonia and most likely the Swine Flu as well.  He was actually in critical condition, and if he were his son, “he’d be on the next flight out.”

After making frantic airline and hotel reservations, my parents and I rushed to LAX at 4am for a 6am flight to New Jersey.  We landed a little after 3pm, and after dropping our bags off at the hotel, we rushed to the hospital, where David was in Intensive Care.  When we entered his room, he was sitting up, with a Bi-Pap oxygen mask on his mouth, but could barely breathe.  He recognized that we were there, but could only communicate through grunts, as both of his lungs were filled with fluid.  The doctors decided to put him on a respirator, to help him breathe easier, and soon after they did, his body began to fight it, and the doctors were forced to put him into a medically induced coma.  We were told that the coma could last a few days, weeks, or months, along with the possibly that he would never wake up.

The next two days were spent by David’s side, as my parents and I sat in his room, “B.” was there as well.  We decided to table our differences and act civil for David’s sake.  On Sunday, my father asked the nurse what she was going to give David for his fever.  The nurse retorted that he didn’t have a fever, and my dad begged to differ and requested that she take his temperature.  His temp had climbed to 103 degrees, and the doctors plugged in a sixth IV bag.  By Monday, his fever rose to 104 degrees.

Monday night, after we had eaten dinner at our hotel and had returned to our hotel rooms, my mother had a strange feeling, and told my dad to call the nurse’s station.  They told him that they had been trying to contact us (though none of our cell phones had rung at all,) as David was crashing and we should get to the hospital ASAP. 

I called “B.” and told her to meet us at the hospital, and my parents and I ran downstairs to get a cab.  When we arrived at the hospital, we all jumped into the elevator and I sprinted out of it and ran to the ICU unit.  As I approached David’s room, I saw about 10 doctors and nurses in the room, and they were performing CPR, I nearly collapsed.  It was so surreal watching them push down on David’s chest, while his stomach would rise in a reaction.  My parents and “B.” soon entered, and one of the doctors said that they had been working on David for about 45 minutes, with no change, or signs of life.  After another 5 minutes, my dad told the doctors to stop.  My brother was declared dead at 9:26 pm, November 16, 2009.  My mother collapsed into the chair, my dad froze, and my entire body went numb, from the top of my head down to my toes.  “B.” supposedly cried out, “my husband,” but I didn’t hear her as she was on my left side, and I am deaf in my left ear.

After a few minutes I was able to leave the room and call my sister and our aunt to inform them that we had lost him.  I also called David’s supervisor, “J.”, but she already knew as “B.” had called her supervisor who in turn called “J.”

While I was in the hall making the calls, my parents expressed their wishes to “B.” that we would be bringing David home to Los Angeles with us, so he can be buried next to his grandparents.  “B.” quickly responded, “No you’re not, he’s my husband and he’s staying with me.”

When I came back in, my parents told me what she said, so I approached her at the nurse’s station and begged her “don’t do this, let us bring him home.”  She snapped, “He never wanted to go home!”  She obviously was unaware that David had an airline ticket to fly home the following week for Thanksgiving, as he did every year since moving out of state.  Soon after, “B.” stormed into David’s room, grabbed her purse and David’s bag of belongings, and left the hospital.  One of the nurses offered to clean David up, take out his respirator along with the IV’s.  My parents and I then stayed with David for another 3 hours or so, and then were driven back to our hotel by the hospital’s rabbi a little after 1am.

The next day, Tuesday, I called “B.”, who had moved back into David’s apartment (in Morris Plains) when he was admitted to the hospital, and I asked if my parents and I could come up to the apartment to go through some of David’s belongings.  Her sister answered, said they were having “their” family there, and we were not welcome to come up.

 On Wednesday, my father received a call on his cell phone from “B.’s” sister (with “B.” listening in) stating that in going through David’s papers, they discovered that David has named him as the sole benefactor of his life insurance, my father had no prior knowledge of this.  Her sister went on to explain that they didn’t think that was fair, and that if my father would sign over the entire share of my brother’s life insurance, along with paying all of his medical and personal bills, they would consider letting us bring him home to Los Angeles.  They were basically holding David’s body for ransom through extortion.

My father then requested that all of their “demands” be put onto paper, and they balked, saying that maybe our lawyers should handle that.  They ended the conversation with a “threat and a promise:” “What’s more important to you Mr. Vine, your money or your son’s body?”  “B.” added, “and if I don’t get what I want, I’m just gonna bury him.”

The rest of the day and the next few days were spent on the phone trying to find a New Jersey family law attorney to help us.  We also contacted the rabbi who sat with us in David’s room, and another member of the hospital’s clergy.  Both of them, along with our rabbi in Los Angeles, put a call into “B.” to find a solution, but were turned away in shock that she would demand money in exchange for David’s body. 

“B.” also mentioned in the phone call that she had scheduled a viewing of David’s body for the next Monday.  My father reminded her that David, as we are, was Jewish, and that Jews do not put their dead on display for all to see.  “B.’s” response, “I don’t care, this is what I want.”  David, being as private as he was, would have been incensed knowing he was being put on display so “B.” can gain sympathy for herself.

Wednesday afternoon I received a call on my cell from David’s boss, “J.”, asking how we were holding up, and if it would be ok for her and a couple of David’s co-workers to come to our hotel and sit with us.  I said that would be fine, and 4 of David’s Honeywell co-workers met us in our hotel lobby after they got off work.  We talked, shared stories, and cried together.  My parents shared with them “B.’s” demands, and they were just as shocked as we were.  They also pledged that they would not attend the viewing, in respect for David.  Friday evening more of David’s co-workers, including a couple who came Wednesday night, came by to sit with us, and also pledged their never ending support for us.

Monday morning, my parents and I went out for breakfast when my dad received a cell call from “B.”  She wanted to make sure we would not be at the viewing (as we would not be welcomed), and that she was going to put David’s burial (scheduled for the next day) on hold, as my father told her we had to fly home the next day to take care of family matters and discuss signing over David’s life insurance, though my father had no intention of ever doing so.

Tuesday morning my parents and I flew home to Los Angeles.  As we were being driven home from the airport, I checked my cell phone for any messages, and listened to one left by “B.”  First she chastised my father for not having his cell phone on to accept voice mail, then she informed me that she had buried David while we were in the air.  We also learned from our attorney a few days later that she had also cleaned out David’s apartment, taking everything for herself and her family.  Months later we did receive two boxes of David’s high school yearbooks and college textbooks, along with other things that connected him to California.  I am assuming (100 % sure) that “B.” either divided up among her family and friends or sold off David’s TVs, computers, cameras, electronic gadgets, clothes, and everything else.

A few weeks later our attorney was told that not only did my brother not have a will, but he also did not designate a benefactor to the 401k and life insurance he had with Honeywell.  We assumed that he figured that by designating my father the sole benefactor to his private life insurance, it would just roll over to include his Honeywell insurance as well.  “B.” soon demanded that she be named benefactor, even though David never included her, and that my father give up any claim to the insurance. 

In the weeks after getting home and coming to grips that I would never hear David’s voice or see him again, I was communicating (through e-mail) with David’s boss “J.”, along with “J.’s” boss “S.”, who came to our hotel as well.  I was trying to get a direct address on where I could send an Edible Arrangement to thank her and the co-workers that had come to our hotel.  That’s when our attorney got a message from Honeywell’s attorney, “L. D.”, asking that I stop sending e-mails regarding “business matters.” 

Ever since then, I have not received any communication from anyone related to Honeywell.  The last e-mail I received was back in December 2009, telling me that it wasn’t necessary to send the fruit basket as it might make “B.” and her cohorts uncomfortable.  I can understand your employees being asked to not communicate with us through their work e-mails, but we’ve heard nothing from anyone, not even a single condolence letter from the company.  Nothing from those who came to the hotel and pledged their respect and love for David along with their support for us.

The judge assigned to oversee our petition to disinter David and bring him home does not want to hear any of these facts I just told you, and is only interested in why my parents feel we should be allowed to do so.  I am not allowed to testify as she feels siblings don’t hold much of an importance as opposed to parents and a surviving spouse (even if that spouse was soon to be an ex-wife if David had lived.)  She also does not want to hear how “B.” tried to extort David’s life insurance by holding his body for ransom, or how she instructed the funeral home not to communicate with us, and when they forwarded a condolence letter from a former co-worker of David from an earlier job, “B.” called this worker (who knew that the marriage was over,) and berated her for offering support to us.  She also “attacked” several of David’s Facebook friends, falsely accusing some of them of having affairs with him, even though none of them live anywhere close to New Jersey.  Our case has been postponed twice, the first due to my mother’s spinal fusion surgery last year, then early this year due to the judge’s illness.  We are not sure when or if we will be granted another date.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have written.  I assure you that everything I have described is factual and sincere. I would be willing to swear on a bible or take a lie detector test if given the chance to do so.  I do not know what version of events “B.” has told everyone, as we have heard nothing from Honeywell, but I will guarantee you that it is nowhere near accurate.

What you do with this letter is entirely up to you.  If you choose to respond, my family will happily accept any response.  If you choose to share it with other leadership members, please do so.  If you choose to ignore it and toss it in the trash, or pass it on to your legal department and have them remind our attorney that I am not supposed to have any contact with your company (for reasons I have no idea why, nor was ever told why,) we will not be surprised. 

We would appreciate, if possible, an explanation on why we haven’t heard anything from anybody from the company that my brother worked with for 3 years and was loved and appreciated by fellow employees that he worked with in NJ, along with others in divisions around the US and overseas.

Again, thank you for giving me the chance to express my thoughts and frustrations…  Please feel free to contact myself or my father if you would like to talk or have any questions.

Joel Vine

As you read in the letter, my brother was buried (Frankford Plains Cemetery in Frankford Plains, which is part of Branchville, NJ.)  while my parents and I were on the plane flying home to Los Angeles, after being told his burial would be postponed.  While we launched a 2 year long court battle to bring him home, had two court dates postponed in the process, we have for now, suspended our fight.  Mostly due to financial reasons, maybe someday we will be able to renew our fight, and bring him home where he belongs…

A couple of days after losing my brother, I remarked to my parents, “she might have his body’s shell, but that gold-digging, extorting whore will never have his soul.”

so, How You Doin?


3 comments on “My Letter to Honeywell International

  1. susan cohen says:

    Hi Joel,
    Thanks for sharing this. I can not imagine the stress and trauma of not only losing your brother, but having that loss compounded by all of the unfortunate incidents that accompanied his death. I continue to wish things had resolved differently for you all, and especially for David. I’ve heard it said that when someone sends a letter like this, the actual “sending” can be very healing and cathartic, regardless of how Honeywell were to respond. I hope that you can find it within you to know a) what a good and loyal brother you are, and b) that David would absolutely want you to put closure on this and not wait around for a suitable answer from anyone in NJ. You will ever know all of the motives from Honeywell or his ex-wife. It’s all very unfair.

    Many families wouldn’t have put up half the fight you all did. And I believe, David knows this from where ever he is today. Moving on doesn’t ever, ever mean forgetting.


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