Category Archives: CIVIL LAW

I got this email from Cash Advance Inc. threatening law suit.

Q: It says you are going to be legally prosecuted within a couple of days in the Court House and Internal Revenue Service will put your social security number on hold causing severe damage to your credit history or credit report and your income paychecks will be put on hold any child support or disability or unemployment or retirement benefits will be either place on hold or will be stopped until you will pay the outstanding amount of 783.67 dollars to us

A:  It is nothing but junk mail from a con artist hoping you will give them a credit card number.

How should I ask about paying an attorney?

Q: I thought I was one step from hiring an attorney. I simply asked how much he was charging so I could pay him up front and get things going. I haven’t heard back from him after I sent an email asking about meeting or faxing info to him. I wanted to pay him up front and deal with him on the 1st step as he had already put some time in talking to me and if things went further had already let me know I would be referred to someone else for further action, which I was fine with as I felt he deserved something for his time. After my email to confirm a payment amount I never heard back. Is it wrong to ask for pricing? I’m not someone who can just say bill whatever amount and be in debt to an attorney for $10,000 for a ten-minute conversation. Just want to know how to approach asking how to pay for their services please?

A: Of course, an agreement of potential fees should be discussed before any work commences. Likewise, any consultation fee should be communicated to you by the attorney before you start the consultation. Certain types of legal work require fees to be included in a written fee agreement signed by the attorney and the client. Ask the attorney and if you can’t reach an agreement, find another attorney. If you are sent a bill for a consultation and you never agreed to such billing, you may have a defense to not paying it.

If my car is wrongfully towed, can I sue the bank?

Q: I have a car loan with a local bank and had to do a month’s deferral because I was out of work for a while. I called my local branch and spoke to their loan officer, who sent me the paperwork in the mail and told me everything would work out just fine. He said the month I couldn’t afford to pay would simply add on to the end of my loan and it wouldn’t be a missed payment. However, I’ve been getting nonstop collection phone calls from their collection department. I spoke with them and explained the situation to someone there and they told me “oh yes, now that you said you had a deferral I see that on our system”. They told me everything was fine. But today while I was at work they called again and a tow truck was seen on my street. If they tow my car wrongfully, can I hold the bank liable and sue?

A: You are likely in breach of your loan agreement if it is not paid and I am assuming under the same contract they are permitted to reclaim their vehicle. Now, the question is whether you can rely on their promise to extend or defer, or, is this just trickery being used to get their car back? Lenders are permitted to use some level of trickery in repossessing their collateral. It is not uncommon for the lender to invite you in to discuss your financial woes, while unbeknownst to you your car is being hooked and hoisted by a tow truck in the parking lot. What a lender cannot do is breach the public peace in the repossession process. For example, if your car is on a public street, it is fair game. However, they cannot go into your garage and take it. If you are serious about catching up with your payment, you might want to make the car unavailable until you are so caught up. If they do tow it, I don’t think you have a legitimate claim to sue them. If you cannot pay up, you may want to just turn the car in voluntarily to preserve your credit worthiness. Additionally, if they are calling you at work, they are in violation of the law.

Can I sue a pedestrian for causing car accident?

Q: I was driving in the middle of the city before a concert and looking for a place to park, there was a woman flagging on the right side of the road, I went to pull into the lot behind her and she stepped out into the road pointing to a parking lot of the left side of the road, I in turned swerved back left to avoid hitting her and I hit another car. Both myself and the other car pulled into the lot, and exchanged info, she apologized and said she was sorry he even called her boss and said it was her fault and asked if we could park for free. He said no. My question is why was she flagging on the wrong side of the road and can I sue her or her company for causing this accident?

A: Yes, you can sue a pedestrian for causing a motor vehicle accident. Will it be worth it? A lot more facts would need to be known. First, there needs to be liability, fault on her part. Secondly, you need damages. I am hearing property damage here but not personal injury, lost work or other compensatory damages. If you suffered only property damage and you are insured, is your insurer not covering you? If your total damages are your deductible and say, rental car, while your car is being repaired, you may generate little interest in an attorney investing hundreds of dollars in costs and thousands of dollars of legal billable hours in this endeavor. You may want to file a civil action at the local District Justice. If you do sue, you may want to sue her employer as well. What is their liability? Would a judge find her to be exclusively liable for your property damage or would you be apportioned some fault (contributory or comparative negligence) for pulling into traffic without being clear to do so. I am just saying, I share your frustration but it may be a reach to hold her liable or not worth the investment. Why don’t you just submit the claim to your insurance company so they can assess potential liability.

Bad haircut. Can I sue?

Q: I went to Supercuts for a hair-cut. She was in a big hurry. She actually scalped me. The easiest way to describe it is if you have ever seen a comedy sketch where someone clips the back of the head and there is a bald spot there. That’s exactly what she did but mine is not growing back. I contacted them. They said I was just a trouble maker trying to get someone fired. I had to go through the holidays like that let alone being teased at work All I wanted is them to fix my hair. I can’t go through life like this

A:  Our hair people have more power than we realize. It reminds me of the old Morrissey song titled, ‘Hair Dresser on Fire”. “…I sense the power, in the fingers, within an hour the power can totally destroy me, or it can save my life….” We are all sensitive about our hair. Most people can understand. The problem is that in law, this case does not have a high monetary value. If you were a public figure, actor, or politician, who appeared in front of thousands of people, the case would have more measurable damages. This is not meant to devalue your existence. It is just accepted, that people who rely on their appearance for a living will have higher damages when their appearance is somehow damaged. Talk to another more sensitive hair person or make up person. There are ways to conceal this. They sell like a paint in hair colors to conceal temporary bald spots. Do not despair, it will grow back.

Do you have to pay for a broken water pipe you were unaware of?

Q: Do you have to pay a bill that you weren’t aware of? My friends water pipe broke and the water company is charging him 5thousand dollars for the month where he unknowing used 120,000 gallons when he typically uses less than 20,000. As soon as it was brought to his attention he fixed the pipe but the water company’s only response was “we’ll put you on a payment plan.” This is a gross injustice- what can he do to appeal the situation?

A: If the broken pipe was his private line and not the public main, your friend may be liable. The rationale of the water company is this. Why should they be liable when your friend was in the best position to realize there was a leak? This is not to say your friend was at fault, but is the more negligent of the two. Normally, water companies will enter into a payment plan in these situations. Your friend may want to review this with a lawyer or even call the PA Utility Commission for another opinion.


What should I do?

Q: My car was stolen by a 16-year-old boy, his sister and 3 men. The 3 men and the sister got away. But the girl left her Giant Eagle rewards card in the car. The boy totaled my car into a parked Salvation Army truck. The wreck knocked-out some teeth of one of them and they are still in the car. My child was traumatized. We were 3 feet away from getting in to the car, with Christmas packages when we realized someone was in it. What should I do?

A:  Obviously, this is a crime and therefore you need to report this to police. Get a copy of the police report. Contact your insurance company immediately and file a claim. They will need a copy of the police report. All insurance policies required the insured to report claims promptly. If some of the identities of these little reprobates are not known, the police should be able to track the girl with the Rewards Card and eventually she and all or some other reprobates will confess or rat out the others once the police start working on them and their parents. Oh, and give the teeth to the police. They can be tested for DNA if necessary. Also, they can be circumstantial evidence if one of the kids is missing any. As far as trauma for your boy, contact your health insurance provider to see if any mental health coverage is available for him.

Employer paid me too much

Q:  My employer put extra money on my paycheck for some unknown reason. What should you do? Should I contact a lawyer? (White Oak, PA)

A: Ask him why. If it is a reward for good work, accept it and say thank you. If it is a mistake, it will eventually be detected and withdrawn from your pay. Telling your employer will make you look better. I don’t think you need a lawyer.

Can I rescind a car sale contract that I have not yet taken possession of?

Q: The car is still with the dealer for detailing. I purchased a car 1 day ago. The dealer did not give me the sales contract to take home with me to go over completely because the car is being detailed. I was told I could get the paperwork in 4 days when I come back to pick up the car. I do not want the car now. This entire transaction seems very suspect to me. It is still at the dealership. Since I have not taken possession of the car yet, can I rescind the contract? (Hermine, PA)

A:  It has only been a day or so, you haven’t taken possession, and it appears title has not changed. Just be firm with them and tell them you do not want the vehicle. I would draft a dated letter to them telling them so and keep a copy. Serve it on them via hand delivery or mail, and keep a copy. You did not say if you paid anything. If so, they should return your deposit.

How to overrule a 302 Mental Health Commitment on misdiagnosis

Q: My friend has been placed though a 302 filing on an ” involuntary inpatient medical treatment” He got into a physical confrontation with no physical harm done to the other party or himself (both male). He was arrested and taken to the hospital for an emergency evaluation, because the other party made accusations that my friend had a mental problem. At the emergency evaluation the psychiatrist wrongfully diagnosed him as” Bi-polar”. This diagnosis was contradicted by a 2nd opinion and evaluation a few months ago with” Post Dramatic Stress Disorder”. To make matter worse, my friend is still been injected with medication for Bi-polar with heavy side effect, which he reported to his physician. He was forced to continue the injection treatment which alters his brain chemistry. What can be done?

A: No one can answer this without a lot more of the facts being known. The hospital and medical people will not talk to you unless you are next of kin, have a signed Release from him or are his Agent on a valid POA. All I can tell you is, and I am assuming he is still committed, is to ask his attorney or Public Defender what happened and why he is still being detained and medicated inconsistently with his diagnosis. If you get no answer or insufficient answers, you can only hire an attorney who can visit him, talk to his doctor, look at the record and if necessary seek relief from Orphan’s Court.