Q: My father in law was getting evicted from his apartment he asked if he can stay with us we told him no we don’t have the room. He asked can he store his stuff in our basement we said sure. So, we started moving his stuff in as we were doing this he offered my son his bed and his dresser, so we took the items. We let my father in law stay one night because of the weather and he had nowhere to go. One night turned into 40 nights and then we put our foot down said you gotta go, in so many words. He moved out and he bought the house next door to us and demanded his bed and dresser back. We told him no, in no in so many words, because we can’t afford a new bed and already threw the old one out. Now he is suing us for 2,300 dollars. Does he have a case? He never paid rent and there was no agreement for rent. (Elizabeth, PA)
A: Anybody can sue anybody. It doesn’t mean they will win. No attorney will take the case (I can think of one who would). Will he go to the District Justice Office and sue? Probably not. If he does, will the DJ award him money or the bed to be returned? Probably not. He has no written agreement, it would be your word against his that it was a gift versus conditional loaner furniture.
Q: We were doing a landscape job, the customer was always texting and threatening. After 7 days she once again flipped out. She ripped everything up. She texted threats to show up at his family and friend or have someone else show up. The police are charging her with criminal harassment. She sued in civil court. The judge told us we are not to bring anything up about the criminal case. She presented only the text messages that showed her in the best light. We couldn’t show our texts because they are connected to the harassment case. She presented her time line based on her surveillance which includes audio. The job was in the back yard of her home and nobody was home. She was listening to private conversations the whole time as well as recording without our knowledge. PA is a two-party consent. We tried bringing that up, but the judge said that would be criminal and we aren’t discussing that. Police and DA said it is not criminal because the law hasn’t caught up with tech. We wanted punitive damages, under Intrusion upon seclusion. Be we can’t be heard at all. I am so confused. We lost the civil badly, our hands were tide. What are my options, if any? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: My advice is to appeal from what sounds like a District Justice award? You have thirty days. Once you file your appeal in Civil Arbitration of Allegheny County, she will need to file her complaint again. You will be able to file an answer to that complaint in which you raise your defenses. There was a decision this year handed down by the Superior Court of PA which makes it very difficult for a party to admit text messages in a hearing without proper authentication. You may benefit from this law. I would pursue the criminal case. You should contact a lawyer to help you with the appeal.
Q: My husband’s parents paid for his last two years of college out of pocket when their college savings fund ran out. Three years later, while we were planning our wedding, they claimed he had verbally agreed to start paying them back once he was married and settled. Out of a sense of honor and duty, we’ve been sending them $100 a month in the three and one-half years since then, mostly to pay them back for his cellphone bill, car insurance, and health insurance costs they incurred on his behalf after he’d gotten a full-time job but while he was still on their plans (he was unaware of this agreement, as well, until they wrote up a “bill” that they mailed to him). However, they’ve asked two or three times now for more than $100 a month. My husband refuses but is terrified of being sued. There is absolutely no signed document saying he agreed to pay them back. But assuming they kept all other pertinent documents (college bills, etc.), is there even the smallest, remotest chance they could sue? I believe the total was around $90,000, but they keep lowering it to make it seem more agreeable. They absolutely do not need the money; his father recently retired from a six-figure salary. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If they pursue 90K they cannot file in Civil Arbitration and therefore would have to sue in General Docket, Civil Division. They probably do not have the skill to file a complaint on their own in the General Docket of Allegheny County. They would need an attorney. Most attorneys would decline such a suit. However, there are attorneys that would take the case if they are paid good money, non-refundable, up front. If they sue for 50K and under in Civil Arbitration, they may be able to cobble together a form complaint on their own without an attorney if they cannot find an attorney interested. In either General Docket or Civil Arbitration, the case is not good unless they have an agreement in writing or good corroborating witnesses that state your husband agreed to pay back his college tuition. I had a similar case. The parents were bitter and angry at their adopted daughter for some reason and when she left the home to go out on her own, sued her. They found a young lawyer to file an Arbitration complaint for money up front. Nothing was in writing and there was no firm verbal agreement to repay anything. The Arbitration panel was not impressed and issued an award for the defendant. I wouldn’t lose sleep over a potential lawsuit from them.
Q: I like going through abandoned places just to look. I’ve always wanted to go there. As far as I know, nobody has ever been arrested for going there. I don’t know if the police showed up when the people were there or not. I’ve been trying to find haunted/abandoned places to go and this hospital came up. As far as I know nobody owns the land. Even if nobody owns the land are you still able to get arrested? I would like to know so I don’t go there one day and got arrested. I am 18. (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: I would bet that somebody owns the land. I would also bet that there are “no trespassing” signs and locked gates and doors which would suffice to give someone notice that they are not welcome to loiter there. If you are adventurous, you will go at your own risk. Young people and paranormal enthusiasts are attracted to these places. If you are caught, you may be given a warning but you may also be given a citation for criminal trespassing. If you are cited, plead not guilty, and request a hearing. If you explain your interests and reasons to the judge, you may luck out and be given a warning. Additionally, be careful if you choose to do this. These places are unlit, have deteriorated and can be quite unsafe. A friend of a friend fell one-story down an open stairwell at the old Dixmont State Hospital. He was stuck with a broken leg and laid there all night before being found the next morning. He supposedly was tormented by spirits all night and has never been the same and has turned super religious.
Q: I have a dog. He was at home when my brother had his friend over. The boy went and provoked the dog by taking away his good dish while he was eating. The dog, out of defense for his food, bit him in the side of the face. The people are threatening to put him down and want me to pay 3 large in hospital bills. The wound became infected because it was not treated properly causing them more hospital visit making the bills rise. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You may eventually have to pay medical bills, but do not let these idiots bully you into putting your dog down. It should not be a trade-off. It has been a while since I defended a property owner on dog bite case, however my recollection is that they would have to prove this animal had vicious tendencies, you knew it was vicious and it attacked unprovoked. Certainly not the case here. In my case, the dog bit a girl who stuck her head in the closet where the mother dog was nursing new born pups. Find an attorney that will help you-one is out there. I don’t know if you have been cited with a citation under the PA Dog Law, or just threatened with a civil suit. Call Animal Friends, and any other organization who stands up for animal rights. They may be able to refer you to someone. For them to get you to pay 3K in medical bills, it will take a law suit and at least a year. You have some defenses if there is a lawsuit in that the dog was provoked. You might win. You have some time. Also, if you have homeowner’s insurance, report this as soon as possible. There may be coverage for you.
Q: My partner and I recently moved to a place together after living in separate places. We both hired the same moving company. I was moving from a one-bedroom, third-floor apartment while my partner was moving from a small house. There were two movers for both moves. One of my movers suffered from asthma and had to constantly take breaks, which prolonged my move from the originally estimated 6 hours to over 12 hours. Eventually, the one mover stopped coming up and packed the truck, leaving me to one mover to move my belongings and furniture. Furthermore, the movers took an hour lunch break on my time. In the process, many of my boxes were dropped and some of my furniture was damaged right before my eyes. My partner’s move was worse. This company damaged several antique pieces of furniture (and I do mean damaged) as well as damaged the new home we moved to. The damages include: gouges in the wood door frames and hardwood floors, a damaged handrail with plaster everywhere, damages to the brick wall next to our driveway (broken bricks from backing in sloppily), etc. We have been in touch with the moving company, but so far, they have been defensive. Do we have any rights here? (Bridgeville, PA)
A: I put this under “litigation” as you may get more responses. I hope you have not paid them. You have more leverage if you did not or you can stop payment on the check. These moving companies are notorious for stalling and delaying-they probably have no intention on paying you. Have an attorney read your contract. Gather your evidence-photographs, documents, your written log of what happened, estimates for furniture repair and home repairs. If your evidence is good, and your damages are high enough, an attorney may take the case. Do not wait too long to file this. There are applicable statutes of limitations.
Q: I’m suing a woman for harassment, bullying, Cyberbullying. But, her attorney keeps filing preliminary objections saying these are not recognized as legal claims. Please help, my suit may be dismissed. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The outcome of your case is not likely to be favorable if you do this on your own. Do you perform minor surgery on yourself? You should review this with an attorney to see if you do have a claim.
Q: My mother lives on $1100 per month social security and has 5-6 loans ranging from $300 to $1000, some collateral and others payday. I paid off her loans two years ago and she has just redone the loans again. She had given me control of her checking account, but she opened a checking account and started taking out the loans again. (Neville Twp., PA)
A: As long as she is competent, she can do as she pleases. If she owns real estate or a motor vehicle, they can be subject to a lien or seizure if she is sued successfully and a judgment is obtained. If she owns no such property, and she takes a judgment, nothing can really happen to her except bad credit and phone harassment from creditors. Of course, you want to make sure she is not borrowing from thugs who may break her legs if she doesn’t ante up. If these loans are a result of some sort of mental infirmity or incompetence, and she becomes a danger to herself, you may want to speak with a lawyer about becoming her guardian.
Q: I have a judgement against me, I did not go to the hearing over a year ago and the judgement went through. Now I am receiving papers from a law firm, Interrogatories for Discovery of Assets in Aid of Execution. Is there anything I can do to appeal or stop this?
My ex-husband bought items on one of my cc cards. We divorced, and I was left with a hefty amount due on the credit card. So, that is why I did not pay it in the first place. But now I’m here, and shame on me. Thanks. (Shaler Twp., PA)
A: Yes, if you have allowed a judgment to be entered, you are way late to appeal. There is a procedure to get back to court which involves filing a Petition to Open Default Judgment. I am not sure if the facts in your case would support this legal procedure, which will involve hiring a lawyer and incurring legal fees. If the judgment is something you can pay, you may want to work out a settlement agreement. Consult with a lawyer.
Q: I was carjacked on camera. I was knocked TKO and then repeatedly punched. I was completely unconscious helpless and defenseless with over 100 punches to my face and skull. He broke my teeth, cut my face in multiple places including a 3-inch-long wide deep laceration that showed my skull bone and needed internal stitches to stich my facial muscles back together. The DA refused to convict him and withdrew most charges but kept one charge of simple assault and that was a plea of threatening language. This criminal also raped me and was knowingly infected with incurable HIV. I have medical reports and proof that I was never infected until after he raped me but all that was withdrawn. Everything was on video surveillance camera and the Feds and US Marshalls gathered enough evidences and picked him up for life threatening assaults he did to me. I was subpoenaed to prepare for trial. I was never notified about that court date and I was subpoenaed via email and it said my eyes only just me no one can come with me make sure I’m alone. When I went there they said they destroyed the video. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I guess my first question is if you were a TKO (technical knock out) you were presumably conscious. If so, how is it that you were “completely unconscious”. The story sounds too horrific to be true, but I will presume you are being candid. There are many issues here, police abuse, police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of process, official oppression, to name a few. Try to find a lawyer to help you-it won’t be easy, but keep looking. One is out there. In the meantime, contact any victim’s rights organization you can in Allegheny County. You can try the law firm of Bordas and Bordas, who profess to fight for the little guy. If you get nowhere, call Marty at KDKA.