law

Run For The Border

I got a call on a Thursday afternoon from [Suzie]. It was a curious call because the address on the intake form was a Canadian address. Prepaid Legal only sold plans to people in the US. Suzie had met [Gavin], a Canadian, online. After a whirlwind romance, Suzie and Gavin decided that they live together in Ottawa, where Gavin was living. They packed up all of her things into a U-Haul and then hitched her car to the U-Haul on a trailer.

The couple set out for the border crossing near Buffalo, NY. As Suzie and Gavin reached the border, the Canadian immigration officials asked if them if Suzie was emigrating or coming to Canada for vacation. Suzie replied that she was coming for vacation. Since most vacationers don’t bring 4 rooms worth of furniture and a car on a trailer for a vacation, Suzie was turned away at the border. At this point, Gavin got out of the truck and hitched a ride to Ottawa with another driver.

Suzie was now stuck in Buffalo. So she called her friendly home state PPA firm. Since I was the only one who knew anything about immigration, I got to take the call. This led to the following exchange:

Suzie: I only have enough money to stay in this motel until Tuesday! I got the forms right here. You think this will all be sorted by then?
Me: I highly doubt that you will be able to apply for and secure a residence permit in Canada in three and a half days.
Suzie: What?? I didn’t even think you needed a passport to go up to Canada. [Note: this conversation took place in 2009.]
Me: You can go up to Canada for a visit without requiring a passport or visa, but you cannot emigrate there without a visa.
Suzie: Well what do I do then?
Me: I would suggest asking your fiancee to get you an attorney in Canada to assist you with the process.
Suzie: You mean I don’t get this taken care of for free? Why am I paying you $19.95 per month?
Me: I can advise you on US immigration law, but you need someone who is licensed in Canada. You will need to go through Canada’s procedure for emigrating.
Suzie: I don’t have any money to stay in this motel past Tuesday! I thought this would be done by then!
Me I am sorry to disappoint you.
Suzie: Where am I supposed to stay??
Me: You could always come back to [my state].
Suzie: I can’t! You have no idea how tough it was to get up here with all my stuff!!
Me Well, then I suggest you get a residence and a job in Buffalo. This is not going to be a quick process.
Suzie: This is so unfair! Why do I pay you guys $19.95 a month??

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I Can't Help Where I Have To Park

A man called in to complain about his car being damaged. He was working at a building where people had to pay for parking. So, this man decided to park in a side street to avoid the fees.

Man: They forced me to park in the side street.
Me: How do you figure that?
Man: I don't want to pay for parking and I have to go to work. It's their fault this happened.
Me: Let me get this straight: You chose to park in the side street, and that is your employer's fault?
Man: Well, if I hadn't been forced to park there for work, my car would be fine.
Me: How do you think things will go for you at work if you sue your employer for damage to your car?
Man: What do you mean? Can they fire me?
Me: As long as they can prove it's for a non-discriminatory or protected reason, they can fire you. We are in an at-will employment state.
Man: That's not fair!

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Emigrating To The Green Isle

A man called in the day after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. Obama's victory had convinced this man that the U.S. would soon become  a "Socilist" haven that would target God fearing people such as himself. So, this man decided he wanted to emigrate to Ireland.

Man: So, do I call the U.S. Embassy in Ireland about this?
Me: No, you have to contact the Irish Embassy here in the U.S.
Man: Really? Why? I'm an American citizen.
Me: Because if you're trying to emigrate to Ireland, you need to ask them what their laws and regulations are to enable you to do so. The U.S. Embassy can only counsel you about matters pertaining to this country. Besides, wouldn't that be akin to sleeping with the enemy?
Me: I never thought of it that way!

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Just Send It To My House

A man called in about evicting his adult stepdaughter from his home. Stepdaughter was originally supposed to stay for two weeks while she found a new job, and then was to get her own apartment. Six weeks had now passed, and stepdaughter was whiling away her days sleeping and watching TV. He asked what the usual eviction process was. I explained that a letter would usually be sent to the tenant, along with a notice of eviction being attached to the apartment door.

Man: So, can you send a letter to [stepdaughter]?
Me: Let me get this straight. You want me to send a letter to evict your adult stepdaughter from your house. Meaning the letter will be sent to your house?
Man: Yeah.
Me: Just curious: How does [stepdaughter] receive her mail?
Man: My wife hands it to her.
Me: So, your wife will hand an eviction letter to [stepdaughter]?
Man: Yeah.
Me: This will not end well.
Man: I have to do it!

About a month later, the man called in because stepdaughter had gone nuts after getting the letter. He now wanted to sue her for the damage to his dishes and other breakables that were damaged during the ensuing altercation between stepdaughter and wife.

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I Need Better Cell Service!

A woman called in about the deterioration in her cellphone service. She was a legacy customer of Cellular One, which had recently been acquired by U.S. Cellular. I asked her when her contract was up, and she told me it would expire in 2 months' time. So, I offered to contact U.S. Cellular to see if they would let her cancel her contract with no penalty.

Woman: I don't want to cancel! I want better service.
Me: I understand. If we get your contract cancelled, then you can move to another company that has better cell reception.
Woman: I just want better cell service! I don't want to change my company! I been with them for a long time.
Me: How do you think that your cell reception will get better if you stay with U.S. Cellular?
Woman: I don't know! I need you to make them do something!
Me: They're not going to move a cell tower closer to your house so your signal gets better.
Woman: Why not????

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The African Diamond Affair

A man called in with an unusual request. He needed me to contact Interpol on his behalf. This man had gotten into touch with some men in the African nation of Benin (I wasn't told how the two parties met). The man calling me had completed a couple of transactions with these men to buy diamonds, spending around $2,000 each time. After the completion of the second sale, the Beninois told the man they had an unbelievable deal for him. They would send him a diamond worth at least $1,000,000 for only $50,000. The man promptly wired the money to Benin. After the money was received, the Beninois mysteriously disappeared.

Me: Did you know these people personally?
Man: No. I only conversed with them over the Internet.
Me: Just curious, but how were they going to get the diamond to you?
Man: We agreed that the diamond would be sent by DHL.
Me: Wait a second. Did you intend to declare the diamond and pay import duties?
Man: Why would I need to do that? They were sending it via DHL.
Me: DHL packages can be checked by customs.
Man: They can?
Me: Yes. Anyway, I can't initiate an inquiry to Interpol. You'll have to go through the [state] Bureau of Investigation.
Man: Will they find the Men?
Me: Not very likely. You have been tricked by criminals.
Man: I see. I suppose I should tell my wife.
Me: Not a bad idea.

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Making Money Shouldn't Be So Hard

An elderly woman called in about a website she had "bought". A nice man called her approximately two months earlier and said that for only $10,000, his company would sell her a website that would make her money. After the money was sent to the nice man, he mysteriously stopped taking the woman's calls.

Me: So what exactly were you going to be selling?
Woman: He told me I'd be selling products and that every time someone came to the website, I would get paid.
Me: Right. But what were you selling on this website?
Woman: I told you! Products?
Me: You don't know, do you?
Woman: silent

About six months later, the woman called again about another website she had "bought".

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People Who "Tell the Truth" Aren't A Protected Class

A woman called in about being discriminated against at work because she was African American. She said that her manager was not giving her the same hours as all the other employees. I sent her a questionnaire to fill out to get more detail about the case. About a week later, I got the paperwork back and called her. She sent in a work schedule as part of her packet.

Me: I am looking at this schedule, and I see that there is a Sheneneh and Laquanda [names changed]. May I presume that they're African American as well?
Woman: Yup.
Me: I also see that they are getting 40 hours a week.
Woman: That's because they're friends with the boss.
Me: That really sinks your case. You can't claim racial discrimination if there are other people of the same race getting 40 hours a week. If these women were all getting reduced hours, then we might have something.
Woman: If I get fired, do I get unemployment?
Me: Not unless we can prove discrimination. Which we can't.
Woman: Well I'm going to apply anyway.
Me: You are free to do so. The likelihood of you getting benefits is low.

She called back in a month later about being denied for unemployment. The reason for her getting fired? Telling her boss "the truth".

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Send Me Cash and I'll Send You More Cash

This woman called in wanting me to contact a lender who had not sent her money from a loan she was promised. The woman had seen a commercial about real estate investing. This commercial directed viewers to contact a specific lender to get the loans they needed to begin living their dreams. After doing some research and finding the lender on LendingTree.com, the woman determined that the lender was "legit".

Me: Well, what did you use as collateral?
Woman: They said that I needed to send them $3,000 as collateral and they would send me the $35,000 they promised me.
Me: Wait a second, you used cash as collateral for the loan? That doesn't make any sense.

But wait, it gets worse. Once the woman contacted the loan company and sent the cash, they stopped taking her calls.

Woman: I need to pay these loans by Friday.
Me: Who did you borrow from?
Woman: I took out payday loans for the money.
Me: You did what?
Woman: I was going to pay the payday loans back when I got the money from the loan company and use the rest to start investing in real estate.
Me: I hate to tell you this, but you've been defrauded by these people.
Woman: But they were on LendingTree.com!

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The Party Boy

A man called in about his son's expulsion from the local school district. Dad wanted son to be reinstated at once. It was imperative because the young lad's cheerleading career hung in the balance. The new school didn't recognize the son's brilliant cheering abilities. It was the kid's senior year; his time to shine.

Man: He's really a good kid. All he did was a dance called the "Party Boy". Some teacher got all bent out of shape about it and told on him.
Me: What's the "Party Boy"?
Man: It's from a movie called Hot Rod.

I decided to watch this dance on YouTube while the man gave me some other details.

Me: So your son was doing a dance that consisted of him thrusting his groin repeatedly at someone or something?
Man: Well yeah. But he was just kidding around. That teacher has no sense of humor! I can't believe she can't take a joke.
Me: Wait a second. He did this in front of a female teacher?
Man: Well, yeah.
Me: Is this conduct considered acceptable by the school?
Man: They said he violated the Code of Conduct.
Me: Was there a hearing?
Man: Yeah. It didn't go well.
Me: If there is another school district that is willing to take your son in, the old district doesn't have to take him back.
Man: That's not fair!

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Unfair Accusations

A woman called in about the police unfairly targeting her son. The son's phone was found near the scene of an arson; he was currently sitting in jail.

Woman: They're always accusing him of stuff!
Me: Like what?
Woman: Oh you know: robbery, attempted murder, burglary, drug possession with intent to distribute.

This wasn't the main issue though.

Woman: Is it legal for the police to look at my son's text messages?
Me: If they have probable cause to believe that the phone was used in furtherance of a crime, then yes.
Woman: That should be illegal! They're trying to get him on drug charges because someone sent him a text asking if he could get them some weed.
Me: They're allowed to do that.
Woman: That's so unfair!

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There's Only One Motel In Odessa, TX

This woman went to Odessa, TX and booked a three night stay at a budget motel. The premises were apparently so unsafe that she was forced to stay inside her room for the majority of the day. When she did go out once a day for ice, she had to be escorted by a member of the hotel staff. Of course, she wanted the hotel to compensate her for "pain and suffering". Naturally, some questions arose.

Me: Why didn't you go to another motel?
Woman: Well, I had a reservation for three nights.
Me: There are other motels in Odessa. It's not a small town.
Woman: But I was so scared! I suffered a lot of emotional pain.
Me: You could have gone elsewhere.
Woman: Really? I thought you couldn't do that if you had a reservation.

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