Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hot Summer Days and Gearing Up for the Fall

The waning days of summer, the end of August, and a bit of a lull in life in general for most people. Most of the Courts run with a lighter schedule, people and businesses take their summer vacation, trying to squeeze that last bit of sanity out of their summer vacations. It’s also a great time to take use the downtime to prepare for the upcoming school year, even if you aren’t in school and don’t have children.

Even after we are no longer in school, it’s still ingrained in our subconscious that Labor Day rolls around in September and life begins to get serious again. Those summer Fridays with their reduced hours are gone and the economy seems to pick up momentum as we head towards the end of the year.

Have you checked over your estate planning documents? Do you have estate planning documents? Your will is up to date, your beneficiaries on your accounts are up to date? Did you get married over the summer? Have a child? All of these life-changing events are a good time to re-evaluate where you are legally and where you plan on going from here.

Running a business? How are all those vendors doing? Those folks who begged for more time to pay their bills because of the summer slow down could probably use a call about now. No more secretaries answering the phone and covering for their boss while she is on the beach. It’s a good time to review your receivables.

It’s also a good time to check your corporate books. Normally you have filing requirements at a variety of times throughout the year and with the slow days of August upon us, it’s a good time to dust off that black binder and check to make sure your documents are up to date.

Whatever your situation, use this late-August time as a productive time to plan out your fall and take the initiative for the rest of the year.

For more information on litigation or corporate planning or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Return of the Pay Day Loan Scam

Just like a media news cycle, it appears that the pay day loan folks are at it again. After a few months of peace and quiet, there has been another uptick in consultations with prospective clients who are being harassed by the pay-day loan companies. Now added to the mix are the folks from the American Indian reservations who have also jumped into the game, attempting to take business from pay day loan companies by claiming to have better rates than the pay-day loan companies.

The scam continues to operate the same way. You take a pay day loan to help you get through a rough time, and end up paying the amount back with a significant amount of interest. For example, you borrow $500 at a 20% fee, so you end up paying them back $600 at the end of the loan (an annual interest rate of more than 500%). If you need more time to pay them back, they usually offer an extension that will cause you to incur more costs. If you have approved them to automatically debit your bank account and the money isn’t there, guess what? More fees are added on to what you owe.

When the day finally comes that you have paid off the loan, you feel good and are happy to move on with your life. Until the calls begin to come to your home, threatening you with arrest if you do not pay more money to pay off the loan. There is often a “problem” of some type with your final payment and you are asked to immediately wire money or utilize some other non-traceable form of payment to “pay off” the loan (that you already paid off).

The problem, of course, is that this company is usually located overseas, using a “spoofed” telephone number to appear to be from the United States. They are not actually owed any money and are simply phishing for someone to be scared enough to send them money without confirming the actual debt that is owed. In order to scare you, they will rattle off a list of pay day companies until you confirm that you had taken a loan with one of them and then claim to be working on their behalf and with the local sheriff’s department.

The simple answer to all this is to force them to provide you accurate information and pay attention to the details (or lack thereof) in their telephone spiel. It is an intimidating call, but one that consumers should not necessarily be afraid of.

For more information on defending yourself against these scams or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Long Trial and a Lost Summer

Image cc: Kids_Gifts on

A long hot summer has somehow led me away from this blog for too long. Well, that, and a five-week trial that put my entire life on hold and made a day at the circus look like a mundane 9-5 job. In the span of those weeks, there were full days of trial, half days of trial, adjournments for fake medical emergencies and entertaining games of “Where’s Waldo” in the courthouse as we attempted to locate the opposing party so we could continue. Those long days taught me many a lesson:
  • Have Additional Copies of Your Evidence. A good portion of trial time was spent waiting for the opposing party to find additional copies of his evidence. Rather than have any organization, he showed up with a large pile of papers and spent time just going through the documents, page by page, introducing some documents, reading from other documents and generally engaging in a level of filibuster that would make a politician proud. Instead, my client and I have our exhibits pre-marked, with copies for the opposing party, the witness and the Court (when requested) and my copies on my iPad with my notes for examination.
  • Remember What the Case is Actually About. When we finally got to the actual allegations at trial, opposing party spent his time, hours upon hours, on issues that were not jurisdictionally before the Court. Many of the issues had already been decided more than five years ago and had been upheld on appeal on multiple occasions. Despite the wild and irrelevant assertions, it was important to stay on message and stick with our trial plan and not get sucked in to the morass caused by the opposing party. It was tempting to deviate from our strategy, but our strategy, hatched five months in advance of the hearing, had been battle tested and planned out deliberately and worked better than allowing the trial to degrade further.
  • A Summation is the End of Your Case. When the Court finally decided to conclude the case, both sides were allowed 30 minutes for closing. Opposing party did his closing, I did my closing, and then opposing party demanded a rebuttal. As there were a few minutes remaining before the Courthouse closed, the Court allowed the rebuttal. But then at the end of the rebuttal, the opposing party began to produce more papers and attempted to add more evidence to the record. What ensued was an entertaining explanation that a summation is the end of your case, not a pause in the case.
  • Leave the Evidence, Take the Cannoli. At the end of the case, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, the opposing party attempted to leave the courthouse with some of the documents that had been placed in evidence during the trial. The Court officers had to chase him down before he left and made him return the documents to the Court’s file. Rule of thumb, the evidence stays behind.
For more information on trial practice or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.