Bed Bug Ohio Jury Verdict $173,000

John Zervas from our office obtained a sizable jury verdict after our client suffered bed bug bites at a Days Inn. Our client suffered an allergic reaction and was later diagnosed with Morgellons Syndrome - a delusional disorder where a person believes parasites are moving in and out of their skin.  At trial, John presented expert psychiatric testimony on our client’s condition.  He also successfully impeached defense witnesses with evidence of prior complaints at the hotel.   Overall John got a verdict for $173,000, including $75,000 in punitive damages. 

The issue of attorney fees under the CSPA and the punitive award is still before the Court.  This far exceeds the nominal value the defense put on the case going into trial.

If you believe you have a bed bug case, please contact your local health department first for any prior reports of bed bugs at that location. These are public documents that your health department is required to provide to you. Take pictures of any injuries you sustain, and photos of the bed bugs in the room. If you went to the hospital or saw a psychologist, please gather those receipts/invoices too. Then call our office at (614) 944-5219 for a free phone consultation.

Lawyers Who Help Small Business Owners

Lawyers Who Help Small Business Owners

The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. provide legal representation and services to new and developing small business owners. Our experience with consumer litigation lawsuits give us a unique position to advise small business owners. We understand the difficulties of running a business and drafting contracts, hiring employees, and operations. Small business lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. can represent small business owners in civil lawsuits and help prevent future lawsuits with our contract drafting and negotiation services.

Doucet & Associates offers a free video seminar about drafting contracts for small business owners on our website. Click here to view the free video seminar. Our lawyers not only help develop contracts and offer legal advice but also help small business owners settle contract disputes. Using an objective based approach to help our clients, we review all the facts and help them evaluate their best options.

Small business attorneys are usually much more affordable than the gigantic law firms that serve large corporations.  We have less overhead and are more responsive to our clients' changing needs.  Hiring a small business attorney can help with organizing a business at an affordable cost, as well with litigating out claims.  Our litigation attorneys can even help at a flat monthly payment against our hourly rate.  Contact us for more information!

Aside from contracts and negotiations, our lawyers can also assist small business owners in a variety of other legal matters. Our lawyers have experience fighting federal and complex litigation lawsuits, commercial foreclosure, tortious interference, scams, and fraudulent misrepresentation. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. have great experience handling appeal cases at the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and have successfully shaped national mortgage law with a verdict from one of our appeals. Call Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. today at (614)944-5219 to set up a consultation with a small business attorney.

 

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How to Stop a Sheriff’s Sale in Ohio

There are several ways to stop a sheriff’s sale in Ohio. This post discusses several ways to stop a sheriff’s sale with plenty of good information to help you understand your options.

Need Help Getting Funds from the Clerk of Court?

If you have had property sell through the court system for more than what you owe, the excess funds will be placed in an escrow account with the clerk of courts.  This usually happens when a foreclosure sheriff sale occurs where the property is sold for more than the loan balance.  While some legal work is necessary to get the money back, the process is not complex.  We have helped a number of people get those funds from the clerk at relatively nominal cost.  Recently, we helped a client recover over $80,000 for about $1,200 in fees.

Unfortunately, we have been hearing that several law firms have been offering to recover those funds for a third or 25% of the total amount held by the clerk.  We believe this practice to be unethical under RPC 1.5.  There is no risk of loss for the lawyer in taking on one of these cases, nor substantial work needed to get these funds from trust.  A lawyer is prohibited from charging a clearly excessive fee pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.  We believe it is excessive for an attorney to get a $20,000 fee from a $60,000 deposit that requires $2,000 worth of work.

I should mention that recovering a deposit is different than "redeeming" the property.  Redemption of the property means you save a property from foreclosure by paying the full balance due.  This is a bit more legal work (a few thousand dollars, depending on the court), but still should not be done on a contingency.  

If you need help getting funds that are deposited with the Clerk of Court, you may attempt to get those fees directly through the Clerk's office.  If you would prefer to hire an attorney, call our firm for help on an hourly rate.  We won't take a percent of the award - only bill you for the work we actually do.

NPR Story About Our Teacher Clients

Several clients of Doucet & Associates are appearing in a National Public Radio (NPR) story about PHEAA and FedLoan Servicing this week.   The NPR radio report about our teacher clients, Maggie Webb and David West, outlines our clients’ frustrations about their TEACH grants being illegally converted into interest bearing loans.   The story is available here: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/03/28/596162853/dept-of-education-fail-teachers-lose-grants-forced-to-repay-thousands-in-loans

The teachers we represent are part of a class action against PHEAA and The Department of Education that claims PHEAA is purposefully converting these loan, in violation of RICO.  RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which prohibits entities from scheming to defraud others. 

The NPR story is about teachers that outlines how we believe their grants should not have been changed into loans.  The teachers agreed to work in targeted areas for four years in exchange for having grants forgiven.  But by converting the grants into loans, PHEAA may be reaping millions in extra fees and interest.  Doucet & Associates filed a class action last year that has recently been subject to a MDL motion to consolidate this lawsuit and others before one judge.  

Doucet represents over 20 teachers in this class action against PHEAA and the US Department of Education.  If you would like to explore joining this lawsuit, please use the submission section located here.   We will then reach out to you directly.

Read more about this lawsuit here.

To read the entire lawsuit, click here.

To sign up to get notifications about this lawsuit, click here.

Free Furnace for the Holidays

Keystone Properties is having their 4th Annual Free Furnace Giveaway is underway, and we encourage you to share this opportunity with others, or nominate someone in need.  The deserving winner (must be homeowner in Fairfield or Franklin County) will receive a free furnace and installation by Keystone.

In recent years, we’ve been honored to give warmth to single mothers living without heat and even a cancer patient in his last days. 

Please don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impact on our local community.

Ways to share:

Nominations close December 17. Thanks, everyone! Wishing you a blessed New Year.

What to look for when you are buying a new used car?

Buying a used car can be exciting, stressful, and convenient for a consumer living on a budget and trying to save money. Many consumers are fearful about overpaying for a new used vehicle and buying an unreliable vehicle that will need repairs and extra maintenance. The lawyers at Doucet & Associate Co., L.P.A. have experience fighting car dealerships for selling misleading, defective used vehicles to consumers and violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA). Below are some tips and tricks for consumers shopping for used cars to follow to help better protect themselves from buying a malfunctioning used vehicle.

Do your research before buying!

Decide what vehicle features and characteristics are most important to you before you start shopping. There are so many different makes, models, and brands of cars that test driving every car would be time consuming. You should also research the dealership you plan to buy the used vehicle from. Read the dealerships reviews and see if other consumers have been happy with the used vehicles they purchased.

It is also important to check prices of used vehicles online. Websites like Kelley Blue Book, Nada, and Edmunds let you check and compare the prices of used vehicles for many different makes, models, and years. Using these websites can help you determine the types of vehicles that you may be able to afford before you start shopping. These websites can also help you pinpoint vehicles you should avoid because they are overpriced at the dealerships.

What does it mean if your vehicle is sold “as is”?

You should take precautions when buying used vehicles sold “as is”. Used vehicles are not protected by the Ohio Lemon Laws, but the car may be under warranty. When a vehicle is sold “as is”, it means the vehicle is being sold in its current condition. You, as the new owner, are accepting all responsibilities for known and unknown problems with the vehicle after the transaction has been made. Dealerships selling used cars “as is” must clearly state and tell consumers about the “as is” policy before they agree to buy the car. There is no 3 day right to cancel a car purchase in Ohio.

Test drive the car!

Driving the car before you buy it is important! Every car drives and feels a little different. A driver has different perspectives of the road depending on how large the car is and how high the seats are. When test driving a used vehicle, you should try to drive it on many different types of road ways. Drive the car on a highway, on a curvy country road, a wet surface, a bumpy road, and any other types of roads the dealership will let you drive the vehicle before buying.

It may also be a good idea to test drive the car to a mechanic for an inspection. If you are planning to spend a couple grand on a used vehicle, paying for an extra inspection could save you from having to fix an expensive problem in the future. If the dealership refuses to let you get the vehicle inspected at a mechanic of your choice, you may be better buying a car from a different dealership that will let get the car reviewed.

Does the car have a history?

Using the vehicle identification number (VIN), you can check the cars history on websites like CarFax and AutoCheck. A vehicle history report will include information about ownership changes, accident reports, repairs and mileage. Most dealerships are willing to provide this information for you.

You can also check the condition of the car for clues the car was involved in an accident or has a problem and needs fixed. By using a magnet, you can check for fillers in the metal parts of the car body. If the magnet does not stick to the metal, then it is likely a filler was used while repairing the car. You can look for excess paint that was accidently sprayed on doorjambs, in the trunk, and in the engine area. Over spraying paint can be a sign the car has been repaired and repainted. You should also look under the car for any suspicious leaks and puddles.

Review any contracts you sign!

It is beneficial to read and understand all warranty, loan, and service contracts when you are buying a used car from a dealership. A warranty is a guarantee given to the consumer by the seller or manufacturer promising to make repairs if necessary. There are many different types of warranties so it is important to understand what types of repairs are included. A vehicle service contract can usually be purchased by consumers when buying a car to help reduce the costs of repairs after a warranty expires.

A loan contract will include all information regarding interest rates and other fees. If the lender does not provide you with this information before you sign any contracts and agree to buy the car, then the lender is violating the Truth In Lending Act (TILA). The TILA was created to protect consumers signing contracts with creditors and lenders. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. are well educated about consumer rights under the TILA. You can read more information about the TILA regarding consumers and loans in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.

 

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