Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Certified Mail is Stupid.

Someone is trying send a certified letter to my house.  The post office will not deliver the letter without my signature on the return receipt.  I don't have any idea who sent the letter or what it's about.  I will probably never find out either because the post office left a final notice in my mailbox yesterday that said my signature was required today or they will return the envelope to its sender.  The only problem is that I had to work today, so I wasn't able to sit at home all day waiting for the mailman.

I have sent scores of certified letters in the past ten years.  I have always had problems getting people to sign for the certified mailings.  That is why I always send a carbon copy of my letter via regular mail.  That way, even if I can't prove that the person got my letter, at least I know that the person got my letter.  Maybe I overestimated the intimidation factor that my law firm's address label carries, but I always thought that people were intentionally avoiding my certified mailings because they feared my wrath.  It turns out that these people were just probably not at home when the post office made their two or three attempts at delivery.  

Why can't the post office figure this out also?  The post office is such a failure.  According to Reuters, the U.S. Post office lost $3.2 BILLION during the first quarter of 2012. That means that they're losing more than $35 million EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!!!!  I wonder why.  Here is a "company" that charges a flat fee, say $5.00, to drive to someone's house to obtain their signature.  They go to the house on Monday at 11:00 A.M.  No one's home.  So they return Tuesday at 11:00 A.M.  No one's home again.  So they return Wednesday at 11:00 A.M.  All for $5.00!!  Doesn't make much sense does it??

There has to be a better way.  Eventually it should all be electronic, but that is still too far away.  What's not too far away, though, is the demise of the post office.  I predict that there will no longer be a United States Postal Service within 10 years.  Until then, I'll be using regular mail, or FedEx if it's important.  I sure wish whoever is sending me a certified letter would have shown the same courtesy.  I probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this now if they had.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Only an insurance company could suck the joy out of a made half-court basketball shot.

John Queenan, of Trumbull, Connecticut, won a drawing at a Fairfield University basketball game to shoot a half-court shot.  If he made the shot, he was told that he would win a new car, valued at $17,000.  Here's what happened:

He banked it in from straight away.  He thought he had just won a new car.  However, the insurance company that was responsible for paying out the prize wasn't so sure.  The woman who was overseeing the contest that night at the game told him that the video needed to be forwarded to the insurance company because there was a concern that he had stepped on the line while taking the shot.

I've watched the video several times.  First of all, there is no line in the middle where he is standing.  Second, even if the line had continued directly across the logo on the court, this guy would not have been over the line!!

After a full day of waiting, they eventually told him that they had approved the claim and he would be getting his new car.  Leave it to an insurance company!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Protection for the Pedestrian

You are in a car accident.  You exchange information with the other driver, you get medical treatment that you expect the other driver's insurance company to pay for, and at the end of the case, assuming the other driver was insured, you are entitled to a monetary recovery for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured.  If the driver that hit your vehicle did not have insurance, then you should look to your own car insurance for protection.  Assuming you paid for the uninsured motorist coverage to be added to your policy (you should have, it is cheap), then you can make a claim against your own insurance company for the damage to your vehicle as well as the injuries suffered by you in the accident.

But what if you weren't driving?  What if you were simply crossing the street and a driver without insurance hit you.  What if you were on a bicycle?  In those situations, many potential clients think that they only have one option: a case against the defendant driver and his or her personal assets.  However, if someone does not have insurance, they are unlikely to have any assets for you to satisfy a judgment for your personal injuries.  Often times, a defendant will file bankruptcy to avoid a judgment.  If you weren't driving a vehicle, are you really left without any options?  Fortunately, the answer to that question is usually no.  Assuming that you paid for that inexpensive uninsured motorist coverage, in most cases, it will protect you even if you weren't driving a vehicle.

People often ask why their own personal automobile insurance would apply if they weren't driving a vehicle?  The answer to that question is that most car insurance covers those situations because it puts your own insurance in the place of the uninsured driver.  What if you do not have personal car insurance and therefore, no uninsured motorist coverage?  All may not be lost.  Many car insurance policies will cover anyone who resides with the named insured.  Of course, a lot of these coverage issues depend upon the actual language of the policy.  Moreover, some insurance companies are better than others and are much more likely to cover these scenarios than the fly-by-night companies (think tacky commercials).  It is always best to consult with someone that has specific knowledge regarding the variety of issues than come up in situations where insurance coverage is questionable.  In a future article, I will discuss the interplay between a defendant's insurance coverage and underinsured motorist coverage where the defendant's policy is not large enough to cover the damages suffered by someone in a car accident.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aurora Beacon's Blog Log

The Northern Law Blog received a nice feature in yesterday's Aurora Beacon newspaper.  HERE is a link to the article.  A free registration is required to view the article.  Your free registration gets you access to the Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Naperville Sun, and other websites, so please register.  Here is the article:
"Michael Huseman knows the ins and outs of Illinois law. Huseman, 35, has been practicing law in Aurora since 2003. He shares law news and advice on his blog Northern Law Blog. 
“I started the Northern Law Blog to communicate with my clients about general topics that may interest them,” Huseman said. “I read several newspapers and many different blogs every day. I often come across topics that I want to share or expand upon.” 
Huseman’s blog appeals to clients, other lawyers and those intrigued by interesting law news. In recent posts, Huseman writes about mistaken identity and the question of corporations possessing personhood. Posts can range from informative to jovial news stories pertaining to law, but also act as a resource for other lawyers, including information about available jobs. Regardless of the topic, Huseman presents each issue in an approachable and understandable way. 
“I have tried to make myself accessible through the blog. I want to communicate that my firm is here to help people in need,” Huseman said. “If we cannot assist with your particular issue, I probably know someone who can help.” 
Readers need not be lawyers to find the value in Huseman’s blog though. Many posts are special interest topics that would find mass appeal. One post discussed a bill presented in Congress, proposing that unused gift cards need not face penalty or expiration. Another post discussed the Drew Peterson case, a topic that intrigued more than just lawyers. Reader participation is encouraged, allowing spectators to state their opinion through commenting. 
Interested in learning more about law? Read Huseman’s blog at http://www.northernlawblog.com/"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What is a Zombie Deed?

I tweeted a link out yesterday to a Chicago Tribune article about zombie deeds (Follow me on Twitter here), but the link required an online subscription to the Tribune.  I just had that pointed out to me, so HERE is a link to a free version of the article.  I also wanted to follow-up in case anyone else was curious about that tweet. 

The Tribune article was the first time that I heard the term zombie deed or zombie title, but I have witnessed the phenomena for some time.  A zombie deed is a piece of property that the owner has abandoned but that has not yet fully gone through foreclosure.  People who get "attacked" by zombie deeds probably packed up and moved out of their homes as soon as they received the notice of sheriff's sale.  Then they move on with their lives and never give another thought to that old piece of property.

The sheriff's sale is not the final step of the foreclosure process, however.  A lot of things can happen between a sale and the time an actual deed is recorded naming the new owner.  During that time period, the former (current) owner remains responsible for homeowner association assessments, property taxes, and any municipal fines that may be assessed if the property falls into a state of disrepair.  There is also potential liability if anyone is injured on the property.

It is generally not advisable to move out until after title has been transferred back to the bank or third-party purchaser.  For people who are facing this situation and who had or will have a foreclosure sale, please email me HERE if you have any questions about the process.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Latin Fever Night!

Escape the cold and come to Latin Fever Night! On Friday, February 22nd, The Latino/a Law Student Association(LLSA) would like to invite you to dance the night away at Cabana Charley's. If you love to dance or would like to try it out, please come out. We will have a free dance instructor at 6pm, a nacho bar at 7pm and a raffle at 8pm. Our raffle prize is a $50 gift card to Carnivale, located in downtown Chicago. The night is guaranteed to be a great time. Bring your friends and your dancing shoes. Entrance is only $5. Cabana Charley's is located at , 1470 S. Peace Rd Sycamore, IL.

Job Opportunity

I thought I would pass along this job posting that I received from the Kane County Bar Association today:
Seeking newly admitted attorneys for a temporary multi- month document review project. Project is expected to start immediately in the Western Suburbs and last several months. Selected candidates will review documents in a large pharmaceutical litigation. You will be asked to work 40 hours a week, some weeks may require additional hours. Prior document review experience helpful. Pharmaceutical litigation experience a plus. $25.00 per hour contract position / no additional benefits. Email resume to rpt@meyers-flowers.com if interested.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Corporations are not people, Part II

Last week, I told you about the guy who tried to say that he was riding in a car with a corporation.  He was ticked for driving alone in the carpool lane in California and used the corporate papers sitting on the passenger seat as a defense.  The Court told him that corporations are not people.  (Story HERE.)

This week, we have another story confirming that corporations are not people and this time it benefited a criminal defendant.  Tamatha Hilton was a bookkeeper for a company called Woodsmith's.  She would take checks written to Woodsmith's and give them to her husband.  The husband and another person opened a new bank account in the name of Woodsmiths Furniture Company.  They would endorse the checks as "Woodsmiths" and deposit them in the new account.  They allegedly stole more than $600,000.

The three of them were arrested and convicted of identify theft.  The statute under which they were charged makes it illegal to use "a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit ... a violation of federal law." They appealed their conviction.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed their conviction because they actually had stolen the identity of Woodsmith's, and Woodsmith's is not a person.

So, there you go Mitt Romney.  Two cases in the news within a seven day period that confirm that corporations are not actually people, my friend.  (Source: The Federal Criminal Appeals Blog)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Corporations are people too, my friend."

Maybe if Mitt Romney would have been elected President, Jonathan Frieman would have stood a better chance in traffic court last week.  We all remember when Mitt Romney uttered the famous words, "Corporations are people too, my friend" to a heckler on the campaign trial.

Mr. Frieman remembered those words also when he was pulled over for driving alone in the carpool lane in Marin County, California.  As the officer approached his car, Mr. Frieman reached to his passenger seat and picked up legal papers related to a corporation that he had just formed.

He argued to the police officer that he was not alone in his car because he was carrying a corporation with him.  The officer didn't buy it.  Neither did the court.  Lowering the Bar, the legal humor blog, reports that Mr. Frieman's argument was rejected by the traffic court and he was fined $478.00.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Frieman plans to appeal.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Kane County State's Attorney is Hiring

JOB POSTING -- January 9, 2013


Responsible for providing legal advice and representation to Kane County board, elected officials, department heads and employees with respect to various legal issues.  Draft appropriate pleadings and motions.  Conduct research and discovery in all appropriate cases.  Review complex files for drafting of motions and responses.  Appear in State and Federal court and conduct all discovery hearings and trials.  Also respond to complaints of violations of the Illinois Open Meetings act and Illinois Election Code.

  1. Law Degree from an accredited law school.  Licenses to practice law in the State of Illinois.
  2. Ability to work with large volume of cases efficiently.
  3. Ability to conduct hearings and trials.
  4. Ability to conduct legal research and ability to draft pleadings, motions and letters.
  5. Ability to use computer systems licensed by State’s Attorney’s Office, including TCX, Access, Word, and Lexis or Westlaw.
  6. Strong customer service skills.
  7. Establish and maintain satisfactory relationship with county elected officials, department heads and employees.
  8. Three years of relevant legal experience required.
Resume accepted by:
Christy DeChristopher, State’s Attorney’s Office
Email to: dechristopherchristy@co.kane.il.us.
Applicants must submit to a criminal background check.

EEO Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids are available to individuals with disabilities upon request