Category Archives: CIVIL LAW

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.

Can someone plead an inconsistent theory in PA?

Q: I was served with a complaint which had several counts. How and where can I find out about inconsistent theories in a pleading? I must file an answer in 20 days. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: In civil law, it is common to plead alternate causes of action in the alternative. Go to the Rules of Civil Procedure, Pleadings in title 42. For example, someone might include a count for breach of contract but in case they lose that argument they may also plead assumsit or quantum meruit in the alternative.


Is there a centralized on-line data base to check civil judgments?

Q: Is there an online database for civil credit card debt judgments?Mail has been received from a collection company stating that I owe on a credit card that was charged off. I searched the court reference website and cannot find any record of a civil judgment against me. There is one note that records prior to 1994 are available but this would have made me 16 at the oldest. Can I find the judgment information in any other source online?

A: To check judgments against you in Allegheny County, visit the Department of Records in the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh, or, look on line on Allegheny County DCR. This takes care of Allegheny County. If there are judgments against you in other states and counties, there is no centralized data base that I know of. For that you may want to obtain a credit report.

Is there any action I can take to keep from paying to repair a leaking roof?

Q: I noticed that the contract was not followed. I had a roof installed in August of 2011. Yesterday I noticed that there was water leaking into one of my upstairs bedrooms. I cut a hole into my attic wall and found where I think the leak is coming from but noticed that there is a large area where there is no underlayment. In my proposal it clearly states that there will be new underlayment installed. is there anything that I can do to keep from paying out of pocket for this?

A: Review your contract to double check if underlayment was to be used. That would definitely be a breach of contract if underlayment was contracted to be used and was in fact not used. Have another contractor inspect the work. You will need him to verify that underlayment was not used per the contract, and him to give you a report stating what he found and what he needs to do to remedy the situation, even if it means a new roof. Have him take photos. I would then notify the prior contractor of your leak, both by telephone and in writing. Proof of notice is essential if you potentially have to sue him. If he will not remedy the situation to your satisfaction, you may need to file a law suit. Make sure to preserve all documents and information from the prior contractor and for what is currently going on.

How does pleading not guilty by mental illness or defect work?

Q: If my boyfriend was having a schizophrenic episode and did cocaine because he currently thought he was the president and was around a really bad influence. We were able to get him help but he was on probation and missed his scheduled group meeting They urine sampled him now he isn’t sure if he did cocaine or not but he does take Adderall which in the urine test would come up the same as cocaine. I’m having it analyzed to see if its cocaine or Adderall now if it is cocaine. He didn’t really understand what he was doing. Is pleading not guilty by reasons of mental disease or defect a possibility?  (South Park, PA)

A: If your boyfriend had a big tumor on his neck, would you try to diagnose it yourself and perhaps look up information on WebMD and then operate on him in your kitchen? If your friend has such serious mental health issues and is being prosecuted, he needs way more help than you can offer. He needs an experienced criminal defense attorney and he needs to be treating with a mental health professional. PA defines terms such as mental illness and guilty but mentally ill in Rule 314. PA follows the McNaughton Rule which basically means that your friend must be laboring under such delusion that he doesn’t understand what he is doing or the results of his actions. An insanity defense is generally a very difficult standard to reach or prove from the defense. However, his mental illness at a minimum may be mitigating factors to use in attempting to circumvent prosecution or obtain a diversionary program. Again, get him to a lawyer and if he cannot afford one, sign up for the Public Defender.