Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beware of Accepting a Lump Sum Payment in a Divorce

Divorcing Pennsylvania might be tempted to accept a lump-sum payment for their share of a family house or other real property, or from other property division proceeds. Yet that payment option might create a false sense of security, as a recent financial commentator reminds us.

The danger is that a sizable payment from a divorce proceeding might discourage long-term planning. However, many divorce attorneys recommend planning for at least 20 years of retirement at about 80% of one’s pre-retirement savings. From that perspective, even a six-figure payoff from a divorce settlement agreement might not satisfy projected retirement needs.

Continue reading Beware of accepting a lump sum payment in a divorce

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Morbid Obesity & The ADA

Discriminating against someone with morbid obesity may be a violation of the Americans with Disability Act.  At least it was in the case of Ronald Kratz II who was allegedly fired from BAE Systems for being morbidly obese in 2009.   At the time Kratz weighed over 600 pounds and was employed as a material handler. 

According to Kratz, "my supervisor told me to see HR. I didn't know what it was for and they told me they were terminating me due to my weight. I had good evaluations I was doing a good job I did what I was supposed to do. They just said it was because of my weight."   This happened two weeks after asking for a seat belt extender for the forklift he operated.

While Kratz claimed he was qualified to perform the essential functions of his job, it seems BAE believed that based on morbid obesity, Kratz could not do the job.  As a result BAE fired Kratz.  Interestingly, there were not even discussions between the employee and employer about whether Kratz could be reasonably accommodated.

Kratz recently settled the lawsuit for $55,000.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No More Texting and Driving

     Texting while your vehicle is in motion is now illegal and can subject you to a $50.00 fine.  Title 75 has been modified to add the definition of a "Interactive wireless communications device” or “IWCE.)   The definition if an “Interactive Wireless Communications Device” includes devices that can be used for voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the internet or instant messaging but specifically excludes a device being used exclusively as a global positioning or navigation system; a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle; or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.

     Section 3316 of Title 75 was amended to prohibit a driver from operating a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic way while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion.  This does not apply when you are placing or ending a telephone call.

     A "text-based communication" means a text message, instant message, electronic mail or other written communication composed or received on an interactive wireless communications device.
This can be a primary offense which, like failing to wear your seatbelt, can be the basis for you being stopped by an member of law enforcement.
     Consider these issues with the new law –
1)   It is illegal to send, read or write.  If you are accused of writing or sending a message, we can look at your usage/history to determine if you did or didn’t send a message at a give time as the officer represents.  However, the real curious one is read.  It is presumed that all the officer will needs to say is that he saw a glow of a IWCE and the drivers head was in a position that he was reading the IWCE.  How could you ever prove you weren’t reading a message?  There’s no history of that type of use.

2)   While it’s possible that a website’s content could fall within the definition of “other written communication,” there is no prohibition on surfing the internet while driving. 

3)   There is also a difference between operating and vehicle and it being in motion.  Is being stopped at a red light and checking your email a violation of this new law?  While you are still “operating” your vehicle when you are waiting at the red light, you are certainly not “in motion.”  What about pulling over to the side of the road?  Again, not in motion but likely still operating the vehicle.  Where exactly do “in motion” and “operating” begin and end?

4) This may prove to be an interesting area of law with lots of permeations

Good luck, be careful and I wonder what you think about the law?

Monday, January 30, 2012

$2.5 Million Civil Penalty Assessed to Debt Collection Company

     In United States of America v. Asset Acceptance, LLC, Asset Acceptance LLC, a major U.S. buyer of consumer debt, agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle charges that it used deceptive collection practices. 
     Asset Acceptance, LLC purchases old consumer debt from credit card companies, health clubs and other creditors.  An investigation revealed that it failed to investigate when a consumer said debt information was wrong.   In some cases, consumers would not learn that Asset Acceptance reported them to a credit bureau until they applied for a loan. Believing the debt to be invalid, consumers would sometimes pay the debt just to be sure they would get their new loan.
     Asset Acceptance, LLC  would deceive consumers by claiming to sue in order to collect the debt, knowing that they could not because the statute of limitations to sue for the debt had already passed.
     According to the Federal Trade Commission, Asset Acceptance's debt collectors would sometimes misrepresent the amount of a debt or give credit reporting agencies inaccurate information about what was owed. 
     In the complaint filed against Asset Acceptance, LLC, the government claims that as of September 30, 2010, Asset Acceptance had 34 million accounts with an original value of more than $42 billion which it had purchased for 2.54 percent of the face value.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


PJRLAW: MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE DIVERSION PROGRAM: MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE DIVERSION PROGRAM Looks like the Cumberland Court of Common Pleas is taking steps to assist homeowners facing foreclos...



Looks like the Cumberland Court of Common Pleas is taking steps to assist homeowners facing foreclosure.  It is anticipated that later this year a mortgage foreclosure diversion program will be instituted.  The program is designed to provide a sixty (60) day stay for all newly filed mortgage foreclosure actions where the property is an owner occupied residential property.  During those 60 days, property owners will have the ability to participate in this program which will give them the opportunity to meet with a representative of the lender.  A meeting will take place and the parties will attempt to work out reasonable arrangements before the mortgage foreclosure action proceeds. 

Homeowners will have the option of having an attorney appointed to assist them with the negotiations.  This will be provided to homeowners without cost to them.  MidPenn Legal Services will serve as the representative for homeowners who qualifying based on financial factors.  Those households that do not qualify for assistance by MidPenn, the program will rely upon private attorneys willing to provide pro bono services pursuant to a limited representation agreement. The attorneys will not obligated to provide continuing assistance to the homeowner after the initial conference.  If the matter is not resolved through the initial conference, the attorney and the homeowner may enter into a separate agreement for legal services representing the homeowner in the mortgage foreclosure itself.  Look for more information from the County.