A Frivolous Lawsuit is a shakedown to see what falls from the tree. Frivolous litigation is an intentional practice of starting or carrying on a lawsuit knowingly that it is without legal merit with little or no chance of success.
In the United States, the law of the land is that, each party to litigation pays for their own court costs, without regard to win or lose. This encourages plaintiffs to litigate without fear of fee liability and since we have too many lawyers without ability to get a real job for a real fee they are willing to take a contingent risk for the shakedown. It’s all in the numbers: the more they file the more the likely that one or two of those filings will pay off. Shake the tree to collect low-bearing fruit.
101,000,000 lawsuits were filed in 2009 reported by National Center for State Courts. We suspect the number is closer to 30million because there is no definitive source accumulating this real data.
A statistic sourced to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America reports that 79% of people believe advertising by personal injury lawyers encourages people to sue, even if they have not been injured, at an annual cost to the US Economy of $233 billion dollars in civil litigation (source: //www.statisticbrain.com/civil-lawsuit-statistics )
“Americans don’t just sue big corporations or bad people. They sue doctors over misfortunes that no doctor could prevent. They sue their school officials for disciplining their children for cheating. They sue their local governments when they slip and fall on the sidewalk, get hit by drunken drivers, get struck by lightning on city golf courses-and even when they get attacked by a goose in a park (that one brought the injured plaintiff $10,000). They sue their ministers for failing to prevent suicides. They sue their Little League coaches for not putting their children on the all-star team. They sue their wardens when they get hurt playing basketball in prison. They sue when their injuries are severe but self-inflicted, when their hurts are trivial and when they have not suffered at all.”
Many of these cases do not belong in court. But clients and lawyers sue anyway, because they hope they will get lucky and win a jackpot from a system that allows sympathetic juries to award plaintiffs not just real damages.
There are countless stories of stupid lawsuits. Like the woman who spilled coffee in her lap while driving, or the person causing an accident while using the cell phone and texting while driving, or even using the toilet brush to brush their teeth causing manufacturer to print product warning for obvious stupidity:
A warning on a snow sled:
“Beware: sled may develop a high speed under certain snow conditions.”
A 5-inch brass fishing lure with three hooks is labeled:
“Harmful if swallowed.”
A warning on an electric router made for carpenters:
“This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
A sticker on a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow warns:
“Not intended for highway use.”
A household iron contains the warning:
“Never iron clothes while they are being worn.”
A warning label on a baby stroller cautions:
“Remove child before folding.”
So! What can you do to protect yourself?
As I always used to say to my children: “So… knowing this piece of information, how are you going to make money with it? I used to bring my children, and sometimes their friends, and we would go over the Value-Line stock investment charts, and we would pick stocks they knew about: i.e. Mario what are you drinking? He would say Coke. What industry is Coke? He would respond: “Beverage?” Can you name other products in the Beverage industry? He would respond by “Pepsi, Snapple, what about wine? You get the picture. We then would go to the library and visually look at stock charts and conclude that if there was high unemployment, people would drink more beverage, and if we guessed that unemployment was going up, by investing in Coke, or Pepsi, or other beverage stocks, we would stand to make money.
So if you are in business, own a home with equity, have small children, or have any other asset, you know that your wealth can evaporate just before your eyes with one frivolous lawsuit.
How many times have you told your children, old enough to be at home by themselves, that you and mom were going away for the long weekend? You planned to leave late Friday and come home late on a Sunday or early Monday.
Before leaving you would gather your kids and would instruct them: no friends, no drinking, no smoking, no going over other friends, lock the door, etc. and here’s the phone number we are going to be at. And about an hour before you left to get back home you would call and announce that you were one hour from home. Did you do that? Did your parents do that?
You are thinking: but that’s why we have an Umbrella Policy. Just for that purpose. And that’s why we also have a fire insurance policy and automobile insurance. So I’m protected.
Well, that’s true. Insurance is your first line of defense. But, what happens when you leave home, on a Friday afternoon with your wife, for that long weekend and your minor children decide to have a few friends that turns into a high-test full blown invitation to all the high school football team and cheerleaders and leave your house fully intoxicated and 3 to 4 kids get into a car and cause quadriplegics.
Guess who is going to sing that song when your “Umbrella Policy” gets cancelled and you stand before a judge considering not only “civil” damages but “criminal” charges because you left your kids “unattended.” Did you know that you own every nut-and-bolt of your children under the age of majority, most states the age of 18.
Our Ultra Trust® is designed specifically for these unwanted circumstances. It is the UNCANCELLABLE insurance policy.
When you follow our Ultra Trust® advise and execute our instructions in a timely manner, your will diminish the probability of a potential frivolous creditor problem, eliminate probate, eliminate estate taxes, and when properly implemented eliminate the confiscator-predatory Medicaid spend-down provisions. We have a 100% success rate with this strategy over the last 30 years.
While you may not be able to eliminate frivolous lawsuits from every starving lawyer, no one can. But you will be able to dictate the terms under which greedy lawyers and their clients get compensated. With an Ultra Trust® irrevocable trust you are the starving lawyer’s biggest nightmare.
Asset protection is more important and essential than ever. With the economy the way it is, people will sue for just about anything. Below are some amazing outcomes in which millions of dollars have been awarded for lawsuits. These awards stress the need for asset protection.
Asset Protection: Top 12 Jury Awards That Reinforce the Need for Asset Protection
There have been a number of jury awards that reinforce the need and importance of asset protection. Some extreme examples are highlighted below and these are some of the rewards that can come down against your private party clients if they have not taken steps to protect their assets.
$2.7 million was awarded to a woman in New Mexico after she was burned by a cup of coffee from McDonald’s that she claimed was too hot.
A jury in New Hampshire ordered an apartment building owner to pay $2.1 million to a woman that was bitten on the legs and arms by a friend’s pit bulldog. The plaintiff claimed that the owner of the building instead of the friend was responsible for the dog attack.
A construction worker in Virginia who refused to allow doctors to reattach his hand that was severed was awarded $3.3 million. The worker intentionally cut his hand off with a power saw.
A secretary in New York was awarded $5.3 million for a claim against the Digital Equipment Corporation, stating that her keyboard was responsible for her development of carpal-tunnel, which is a known repetitive stress injury.
In Pensacola, FL, Pedro Duran got drunk one night and staggered home in the wee hours of the morning. While heading home, he passed out on the railroad tracks. A train later passed by and cut off his arm. He sued the railroad and was awarded $900,000. The jury concluded that the railroad was negligent.
$216 million was awarded to a client who suffered brain damage when a licensed ER attendant misdiagnosed a stroke as being a sinus infection.
A nursing home was sued because a resident was beat up by their roommate. The patient was awarded $160 million.
An employee sued a company for ethnic discrimination and harassment. It was a private company and the employee was awarded $61 million.
$46 million was awarded when a car exploded after being hit by a private trucking company driver. The suit was not against the manufacturer of the vehicle, but against the trucking company the driver worked for.
$44 million was awarded to a Florida real estate developer for interference with contract when he muscled out of the deal.
The family of an 82 year old cancer patient received $606 million after the patient died from an overdose of chemotherapy medication.
$164 million was awarded to a mother when she sued a barricade company that placed barriers between a construction site and traffic. She claimed that the barriers forced her child to walk on the street in traffic. The child was hit by a car. The mother claimed this would not have happened if the barriers did not force the child to walk in the street.
APS™ members are trained in effective asset protection techniques and are involved with trusted and credible advisors across the country.
Call Estate Street Partners® to learn more about the UltraTrust® irrevocable trust today for a free, initial consultation on how you can protect your assets, avoid Medicaid spend down problems, avoid the estate taxes and gift taxes to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries and other advanced tax strategies to save your wealth for the next generation.
Construction Accidents, OSHA, Lawsuits, Responsibility Construction Sites
Construction accidents are regulated by the OSHA which institutes safety programs on construction sites. Herein, we look at who’s at fault for construction accidents and the steps to take before consulting with an attorney.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created as part of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The purpose of OSHA is to oversee and implement health and safety programs and to reduce workplace hazards. In order to accomplish these objectives, OSHA clearly outlines the responsibilities of employers and the rights of employees while on the job. A violation of OSHA standards can result in hefty fines and legal action.
Employees can Complain Anonymously to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA states that employers must provide a workplace free from recognizable hazards, post in a visible area the rights of all employees under the OSH Act of 1970, and have a written program outlining standard procedures in addition to an employee training program. Employees have a right to a written copy of standards and procedures for the workplace and are entitled to make anonymous complaints to OSHA regarding workplace safety. These complaints may or may not lead to an OSHA investigation. While this investigation is taking place, the employees may choose a representative to walk with the OSHA inspector to take notes.
OSHA and Construction Accidents
OSHA regulations are extremely important for operators of construction companies to be aware of and to follow. Unfortunately, construction accidents are a common occurrence and can be caused by a number of factors including:
Repetitive motions such as lifting and bending
If you suspect that you are a victim of a construction accident it is important to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney immediately. Determining who is at fault, and ultimately who will pay for damages, can be a complicated process. There are many persons involved on a construction site and in the design process, and each of these individuals has certain responsibilities for ensuring your safety while on the job.
Are General Contractors or Owners of Land Responsible for Safety of Workers?
When trying to assign blame for a construction site accident the first person your attorney may question is the actual owner of the construction site. It is the responsibility of the person who controls the land to make all persons involved with the project aware of any potentially hazardous conditions at the site. It is important to examine the contract between the person named on the deed to the land and the general contractors. Some contracts give total control of the land to the general contractors, and if this is the case then the contractor would be held responsible for informing employees of hazardous conditions.
General, “sub” and “prime” contractors are another group of individuals who may be held liable for a construction site accident. It is the responsibility of the general contractor to oversee the entire project. The general contractor may hire “sub” and “prime” contractors to complete the project more efficiently, but this person has an obligation to make sure the work is performed safely and employees are aware of any dangerous conditions involved with the particular project. General and “prime” contractors have the additional responsibility of hiring competent workers, and these contractors are held liable for the work of their employees.
Manufacturers of Machine and Architects are Responsible for Construction Accidents
The manufacturers of the machines used in the project, as well as the architects who designed the project may also be held accountable for construction accidents. Both the machinists and architects have standards and codes which they must follow when making machines or drawing up blueprints. If your accident was caused by a faulty machine or if part of the building falls on you because it was not built with proper supports, you may have a case against those responsible.
State Laws Vary Regarding Who is Responsible for Construction Accidents
States may differ in how they handle construction site accidents, and it is extremely important to consult an attorney familiar with state specific legislation. For example, a Florida construction accident attorney will inform you that Florida Law holds the prime contractor solely responsible for construction site safety. Prime contractors should provide employees with appropriate training for using all equipment, and should monitor the exertion levels of employees. Through the use of a competent construction accident attorney you may be ale to receive payments for lost wages, medical expenses, and the cost of future medical treatment made necessary by your injury.
What Steps to Take When Involved in a Construction Site Accident
When you have been injured in a construction site accident there are several steps you can take to help your lawyer strengthen your case. The first step will be to seek medical attention and have a written record with a doctor that there was an accident and also the severity of your injury.
Next, you will want to inform your employer of what took place. Make sure you document when and with whom this conversation takes place. You should also take down the names and numbers of anyone who witnessed the accident since there may be a need for them to testify later. Finally, you will want to have physical evidence of the accident and your injury. This may include taking photographs of yourself, the site where the injury occurred, or hanging onto the tool that caused your injury.
Read more articles on lawsuits & Asset Protection:
How to guide to succession planning for successful estate planning and transitioning your business to your successors. Timelines, how to choose your successor and the transitional options available are discussed.
If you’re a business owner you should consider succession planning as part of your overall estate plan with your financial advisor. Succession planning is the process of handing over the responsibilities of running a business to someone else when you are no longer able, or willing, to run it. There are many steps to consider when planning who will inherit and run your business, and it is advised not to wait until you decide to retire to begin.
Step One of Succession Planning: Create a Timeline
One of the first steps you should take is putting together a timeline for when you would like to hand over the business. You should have a rough estimate of when you would like to start delegating authority to others that work for you, and when you would like the process to be complete so that you may retire at a reasonable age. This timeline will be a valuable gauge of how much opportunity you have to train your successor to run a successful company in your absence.
It is important to give as much time as possible train your successor so that the transition of authority is as smooth as possible when the time comes for you to leave. Depending on the size and type of business operation you run, you should consider three to five years as a minimum to accomplishing this goal. For this reason it may be wise to begin implementing your succession plan around age fifty-five or sooner depending on when you wish to leave the business to make sure you are still capable of teaching all the necessary skills to your successor.
Step Two: Choose an Appropriate Individual or Group of Individuals To Run Your Business
When you have your timeline in place, it becomes necessary to choose an appropriate individual or group of individuals to take control of your business. It is important to have more that one candidate in mind just in case your first choice decides to leave the business or does not wish to take over your position and responsibilities. Your successor should be someone with similar views to your own about the direction the company should take, have excellent managerial skills, and a proven track record for resolving conflict.
These traits are important to look for whether the successor you choose is from your family or a key employee you have come to rely on over the years. If you plan on leaving the business to more than one individual, such as multiple children, you should make clear ahead of time which responsibilities each person is in charge of. This will help to eliminate conflict later on when you are no longer around to serve as mediator for sibling rivalry.
Step Three: Transitioning the Ownership of Your Business
Now that you have your timeline and successor in order, you must consider the options of actually transitioning ownership of the business. The first step will be to consult with your financial advisor such as Estate Street Partners who will be familiar with the estate and gift tax laws particular to your state. It is important to review this information carefully so you do not leave your successor with unnecessary tax burdens which may put your hard earned business at financial risk.
The first step in determining your financial plan will be to obtain an accurate valuation of your business. You may need to hire a professional appraiser to determine the fair market value of your tangible and intangible assets in a manner that conforms to IRS standards and will prevent an audit of your estate once it passes out of your control.
Once you have determined the value of your business, you have several options on how you may transfer control to your successor:
Gifting: This is an option that allows you to transfer ownership of your business over a set number of years without taxes, assuming you follow the current annual IRS gift limits. Gifting your business is also an excellent way to protect the financial security of your family and successors by removing the gifted amounts from your overall estate value. Staying within IRS limitations will help your family avoid gift and estate taxes which might otherwise cause them financial strain.
Buy/Sell Agreements: These agreements are usually made between multiple shareholders in a company. A typical agreement might stipulate that if one shareholder decides to leave the company, the other shareholders are obligated to buy back his/her shares to keep the company from being sold to an outside party. Some agreements allow for all shares to be sold back to the business at fair market price, which means that employees other than the principals would have the opportunity to own part of the business.
Even if you do not have business partners, you should consider opening a business life insurance policy. If something were to tragically happen to you, a properly funded life insurance policy will provide your family and successors with the financial stability to continue business operations and pay off any necessary estate taxes. To protect the future of your business it is important to have an accurate valuation performed and to discuss changing tax laws with your financial advisor or Estate Street Partners on a regular basis.
Personal injury lawsuit’s statute of limitations vary from state to state and dependant on who is the defendant. This article delves into the elements involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit and the types thereof.
The purpose of personal injury law is to protect the victims of negligence, inaction, or recklessness of another individual. Personal injury law extends to a wide variety of cases which can include: dog bites, car/boat accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, wrongful death, worker’s compensation, nursing home abuse, and slip and fall injuries. Before you file a personal injury claim it is important to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will be familiar with state specific regulations for filing and will help you understand your rights under the law.
Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you are contemplating filing a personal injury claim it is important to file in a timely manner. All claims are subject to statutes of limitations which will vary from state to state. The statute of limitations is the timeframe a plaintiff has to file for damages, and often this time period is from one to three years.
The only exception to the statute of limitations is when the plaintiff is filing for damages against the government. In this case, the statute of limitations is often reduced to thirty days up to one year after the injury. Typically, the statute of limitations begins on the day of the injury. If a dog bit you yesterday, then your statute of limitations began yesterday as well.
However, sometimes as is the case with certain medical malpractice and drug injury lawsuits, the cause of injury is not identified for weeks, months, or years afterwards. For example, a form of birth control has recently been linked to an increase in cancer among some women. The statute of limitations for those women affected by this side affect begins when their symptoms are linked to taking this drug, and not when they initially began taking the medication.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Prior to filing a personal injury claim, a plaintiff must always be able to prove that the person charged (the defendant) is legally responsible for the injury and that the injury suffered is truly the result of wrongdoing on the part of the defendant. In other words you cannot file a claim against a doctor who never treated you, nor can you seek damages for a broken leg you received while mountain biking from a doctor that treated you for gum disease.
There are several elements which may be helpful in establishing whether the person you are charging is actually responsible for your injury:
Negligence – the defendant failed to prevent your injury, and is therefore responsible for causing it. An example might be a horseback riding instructor who asks you to take your horse over a series of jumps without first warning you that the ground is muddy. If your horse slips and falls on you, perhaps resulting in a broken arm or debilitating back pain, your instructor may be deemed negligent and therefore responsible for your injury.
Strict Liability – this type of liability applies regardless of negligence, and is also known as product liability. If you use your electric razor as instructed in the owner’s manual and you get electrocuted or suffer cuts/bruises then the manufacturer of the razor may be held liable for your injury.
Intentional Wrong – civil claims for an intentional wrong may be filed in addition to criminal charges. Most often victims of sexual assault or other forms of abuse will file their personal injury claims based on intentional wrong.
Types of Damages from Personal Injury Lawsuits
When seeking damages for a personal injury, your accident lawyer may pursue compensatory or punitive damages. In some cases a judge may award both types of damages depending on the severity and type of crime committed.
1) COMPENSATORY DAMAGES – ACTUAL OR ESTIMATED
Compensatory damages can be actual or estimated and are meant to reimburse the plaintiff a pre-determined monetary value.
Actual values for compensatory damages can be calculated based on medical bills, lost wages, or money paid to repair damaged property from the accident (a boat or car, for example).
Estimated damages are calculated based on the pain and suffering endured by the plaintiff as a result of the accident. An indirect victim, such as a spouse, may also seek compensatory damages for lost wages to their spouse’s household contributions. Punitive damages are meant to punish the person responsible for the accident.
2) PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Punitive damages do not provide any monetary gain to the plaintiff.
If you feel that you are the victim of a personal injury it is important to consult an accident attorney as soon as possible. An accident attorney in Phoenix will offer much different advice than an accident attorney in Boston with regards to statutes of limitations and determining the at-fault party. Failure to file your claim in time and present proper evidence may cost you the case entirely and prevent you from filing for damages altogether.
Lawsuits arising from occupational hazards and related matters to workers compensation. The OSHA is a government agency which sets standards to protect workers in dangerous occupations and reduce the incidence of workers compensation claims.
Occupational hazard lawsuits are main concern with any sized company and, for the personal safety of all concerned, employers are required by law to carry workers compensation insurance for their employees. The cost of this insurance will vary depending on the size of the business, the level of risk assumed by employees on a daily basis, and any previous accident history for the business. Employers may purchase the insurance directly through the state, by using a licensed insurance agency, or by establishing a fund to self-pay any claims made by workers.
Purpose of Workers Compensation in Hazardous Conditions
The purpose of workers compensation is to provide medical expenses and income for workers injured from hazardous conditions on the job and to offset court costs if there is a dispute. If an employer does not carry workers compensation insurance, or if they file fraudulent papers to avoid paying higher premiums, the result could be disastrous for the business. A worker may sue to obtain the entire cost of medical treatment including pain and suffering, and the employer could be forced to pay higher premiums when they finally do obtain insurance.
When to Consult with an Occupational Work Hazard Attorney
If an employee feels that their current illness or injury was caused by an occupational work hazard they should contact an attorney. An attorney will have knowledge of state specific workers compensation laws and will be able to outline what the options are for settling the case. It is not always easy to obtain benefits from workers compensation policies and the employee may be asked to present substantial proof that the illness or injury in question was not caused by outside influences.
Illness is probably the hardest to collect workers compensation from since it can take years for symptoms to develop. In an attempt to save the business money, an employer working in conjunction with their insurance company can outright deny that the injury or illness is the result of hazardous working conditions. A denial letter from the insurance company for a claim may lead to refusal for medical treatment, and it is critical to consult an attorney long before this situation arises and you run out of money to pay for services.
Generally speaking, unionized workers are the most likely group to need workers compensation protection due to the hazardous conditions found at many of their jobs. Examples of unionized workers include carpenters, welders, masons and iron workers. At any of these jobs there is the potential for exposure to toxic gases, asbestos, faulty material, debilitating breaks and strains caused by a fall, and even death.
OSHA Regulates Safety Measure at Work
In an attempt to protect workers in these hazardous occupations, OSHA sets threshold limit values for exposure to toxic substances including noise pollution in the workplace. OSHA is a government agency which also regulates safety measures which must be followed to comply with their standards, and failure to due so can result in hefty fines. Office workers may also be affected by hazardous conditions in the workplace such as asbestos, carpal tunnel syndrome, molds, and strains caused by moving boxes or office equipment.
Proving the Case in Occupational Hazard Lawsuit
The case for an occupational hazard lawsuit can be strengthened if the employee can prove that the employer knew of the risks associated with the job and did nothing to inform workers of the danger. Gross negligence can be extremely hard to prove and often requires extensive evidence that the employer committed a willful act against you. Depending on the type of insurance an employer purchases for his business, there may be different eligibility requirements for obtaining coverage from workers compensation and there is often a timeframe in which employees must report an incident to have it considered for coverage.
Case Study-Former IBM Employees Launch Occupational Hazard Lawsuit
Several years ago two former employees of IBM filed an occupational hazard lawsuit against the company. The employees claimed that they developed cancer from the chemicals used at IBM to create processing chips. They also claimed that IBM was aware of the potential risk involved with using the particular chemical and neglected to inform all employees of associated risks.
It can take many years for symptoms of cancer to manifest, and with many air pollutants now labeled carcinogens (cancer causing), it is increasingly more difficult to hold businesses responsible for illness. Other former employees tried to sue the computer company claiming that they, too, had developed cancer from chemicals at the plant and some had children born with birth defects as a result of toxic exposure. IBM won the lawsuits since the workers could not pinpoint the cancer to the specific chemical used in the plant and many of the lawsuits were filed years after the guidelines set forth in the company’s worker compensation policy.
Unlike illness which can take years to develop, injury is usually very sudden and it is easier to locate the cause of such an accident. Let’s assume you work in a machine shop where metal drill bits are made. The noise level is above the threshold limit set by OSHA and your employer has been informed that all employees must be provided with protection for their ears. You employer decides to ignore these recommendations and you lose your hearing from working next to the loud machines. The cause of injury is easily identifiable and if the employer denies workers compensation you have grounds for an occupational hazard lawsuit.
With so many lawsuits occuring in America that destroy people’s financial well-being you should be aware that the wrong legal and financial advice can cost you a lot of money. Did you know that a LLC may not be enough to protect your personal assets because of the charging order protection?
Lawsuits can arise from many circumstances and situations.
Your under age driver just had a nasty accident. Your wife said she’s leaving you and she wants half of everything you have. Your business partner just quit and is taking your largest client with him. Your dog just bit the mailman. Your son just impregnated his girlfriend. Your secretary said she was sexually harassed by her co-worker.
Can you be personally sued? Can it happen to you? Chances are very good. In California, lawsuits are as common as eating, drinking and sleeping. According to superior court records, almost 9,000,000 lawsuits were filed in California during the 2003 -2004 fiscal year. Over 30% of lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles County alone.
Most legal and financial advice is bad or incorrect
90% of legal and financial advisors give the wrong advice. They will tell you that a Limited Liability Company or a Corporation or a Partnership will avoid fraudulent lawsuits and protect your assets. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? But it can cost you more than just money.
Single shareholder corporations, single shareholder of Sub “S”, and single member LLCs can provide the owner with protection against liabilities arising from “the conduct of the LLC” but not the owner of the LLC membership shares. In other words, “if” the LLC does something wrong, the owner is not necessarily responsible.
When the LLC will not protect owner’s assets
To reach the owner’s personal assets, a plaintiff would have to “pierce the veil” of the entity showing that:
The LLC, the corporation, or the Sub “S” was undercapitalized for it’s intended business purpose,
Formalities were not followed,
The owner used the LLC, Corporation or Sub “S” mostly for personal purposes,
It did not serve a “bona fide” commercial purpose,
It lacked in economic substance and was merely an alter ego of the owner whose sole intention is to frustrate the creditor(s), etc.
A single member LLC (one owner), Corporation or Sub “S” will not protect the owner’s assets because the charging order protection that is much touted is based on protecting the “innocent” non-debtor. Only an irrevocable trust with an independent trustee will protect your assets from a past, present and potential future creditor.
Importance of preparing for a lawsuit
“Preparation, preparation, preparation,” I say. Just like when you buy a house – location, location, location. Asset protection is about reducing the risk, not only from outside creditors, but also from inside creditors like your ex-wife or ex-husband or ex-common law, your brother-in-law, damages caused by your minor children, your dog or your business partners.
Type of trust to choose and importance of an independent trustee
A trust, any trust, is not worth the paper it’s written on if you have the power to void or amend it. A trust is nothing more than a contract. If you can void any section of the contract, you have the power to void the whole contract.
Most lawyers will tell you, that you can write an irrevocable contract, even if you are at the center of the agreement by electing yourself to be the trustee. It seems these guys just went to law school to warm up the seats. If you run into one of these guys, run, don’t walk because their incompetence is going to cost you plenty.
Let me say it clearly and without recourse. The power of a trust contract vests with the power of the independent trustee. The keyword here is “independent”. Your trustee must be independent of you. He cannot be related to you by “blood” or “marriage.” The more independent your trustee, the stronger your asset protection plan. When you are dragged into court, even by your former spouse, you can look at the judge straight in the eye and calmly state, “Your Honor, I don’t have any assets.” With so many lawsuits in America, it’s in your best monetary interests and health to learn what you can do to reposition your assets and implement a complete roadmap to asset protection, minimize your taxes, stop the probate process and stop the only voluntary estate tax system from reaching you.
Borat Lawsuits – Kazakh, Glod, Frat Boys, Etiquette Coaches Sue
Borat is being sued. Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox are being sued by the people who appeared in the film. Some people think of these lawsuits as frivolous. Herein are some of the lawsuits launched against the makers of the Borat film.
While you may not have seen the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, you’re sure to hear all about it by watching the news or reading the local paper. The star of the film, Sasha Baron Sasha Cohen, and the producers for 20th Century Fox intended the film to be a satirical take on American culture to expose racism and bigotry. The film was shot documentary style with Sasha Cohen playing the role of a Kazakh journalist. Unfortunately for those involved with the making of this film, not everyone saw the humor behind the film’s concept.
Romanian Town, Glod vs Sasha Cohen (Borat)
Since the making of Borat there have been several lawsuits filed against Sasha Cohen and the parent production company 20th Century Fox. One of the largest lawsuits is being filed by attorneys representing the villagers of Glod, the tiny Romanian town used as the backdrop for Borat’s hometown of Kazakhstan. This lawsuit specifically names Nicolae Todorache and Spiridom Ciorebea as plaintiffs who feel they were misled about the intentions of Sasha Cohen’s film.
Todorache and Ciorebea claim they were informed the film would be a documentary detailing the extreme poverty in Romania, and the rich heritage and belief system upheld by the inhabitants. The villagers feel they were specifically targeted and portrayed in a negative manner, although Cohen and producers vehemently deny these accusations. According to Fox representatives the natives were paid above average wages and were never made to believe that this film was a true documentary.
Kazakh’s Foreign Ministry Lawsuits vs Sasha Cohen
Adding to the list of people looking for justice are the citizens of the real-life Kazakhstan. Until the release of Borat this was a relatively unknown country, but it’s portrayal in this controversial film has brought threats of a lawsuit from the Kazakh foreign ministry.
The lawsuit involving villagers from Glod was filed in Manhatten, but was quickly dismissed in late 2006 by US District Judge, Loretta A. Preska. The attorneys for the plaintiffs were warned that unless they could provide specific claims/evidence that the villagers were misled by Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox, the case did not have enough legal merit to be heard by the court.
South Carolina Fraternity Boys Suing Cohen Borat
The villagers of Glod and Kazakhstan weren’t the only groups upset by their portrayal in Borat. In fact, several lawsuits were filed here in the United States by citizens unhappy with the film’s final result. Two South Carolina Fraternity boys tried to sue Cohen and Fox for the way they were portrayed in the film.
The scenes in question show the two boys, obviously intoxicated, making obscene racist and sexist remarks. The boys claim that the film crew told them this documentary would not be shown in the United States, and that the film crew is responsible for taking them out to a local bar to get drunk prior to shooting.
The representatives for 20th Century Fox claim that the boys knowingly signed a release to hold the company harmless and the behavior of the two boys was not the result of anything said or done by members of the film crew. After hearing both sides of the testimony a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that he would not halt the release of Borat to DVD, nor would he require Fox producers to remove scenes involving the two Fraternity boys.
Etiquette Coaches in Borat Film Launch Lawsuit
Other individuals threatening lawsuits against Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox include two etiquette coaches, Cindy Streit and Kathie Martin, from Alabama. Both women are depicted in the film giving etiquette lessons to Cohen’s character during a dinner party. The dispute here is that both women were offended by the comments made by Borat regarding slavery, a demeaning comment made against one of the dinner party guests, and the bag of excrement handed to Streit.
The women claim that this film has single-handedly ruined their etiquette businesses and, as with the Fraternity boys, demanded their likenesses be removed from the film prior to its release. As with the Fraternity boy case, it was decided that the film would be released to DVD as scheduled and that 20th Century Fox was under no obligation to remove the women’s images from the film. Both women signed a release for the company in which they agreed not to file damage claims against the producers. From a lawyer’s standpoint, the parties involved should have read the agreements more carefully.
Overall, the lawsuits filed against Sasha Baron Sasha Cohen and 20th Century Fox for the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan are frivolous at best. Each of the plaintiffs signed a waiver to hold the producers harmless, and the villagers of Glod and Kazakhstan have yet to make a specific claim of damages in their lawsuit. In all cases, US District Judges ruled that no legal harm was done and permitted the release of the Borat DVD without any alterations to the original film version.
Lawsuit Prevention Checklist: 14 Things to Remember
Protecting yourself from lawsuits: 14 things to do.
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The only way to protect your assets from the lawsuit epidemic is to take yourself off the target list. While almost 200,000 lawyers are trying to find ways to take your money, there are only a few hundred who want to help you protect your assets. If you have a lot of money, there is no one single way to avoid the determined creditor, but you can take precautionary steps to protect most, if not all, of your assets.
Here is a list of fourteen things you can do to protect your assets. You have worked your whole life to earn these things, now it is time to take the steps to prevent losing them in a lawsuit.
#1 – Be cautious of joint ownership. Unless you have a good reason of have been advised by legal counsel, try to avoid placing anything in joint ownership. All assets that are in joint ownership are a double risk because the creditors of both owners can go after the asset.
#2 – Never put another name on your bank account. If you have a co-signer on your bank account, your money will be exposed to that person’s creditors. Try to avoid having family members as co-owners of any bank account. Creditors can take money from any account where you are allowed to withdraw funds on your signature. If there is a need to have someone else sign a check for you, or vice versa, consult an attorney or contact Estate Street Partners. There are ways this can be done without putting your assets in jeopardy by having a co-signer on the account.
#3 – Do not ever rely on a domestic, revocable living trust. This may help you avoid probate taxes in the future, but it will not act as a way to remove any assets from future creditors.
#4 – If you operate a business make use of a corporation or LLC. If you have to act as the proprietor to the business for tax reasons, elect to be taxed as a corporation or establish a LLC that will own the business. Remember to observe all legal formats and refrain from using the corporate account as a personal account.
#5 – Make sure you have a detailed review of the title to all your assets. Many people find themselves in a situation where they have set up a limited partnership or corporation and then have failed to change the title of the property. Assets that are held jointly will pass outside of your trust or your will. Any assets that have a beneficiary named will not be subject to the general provisions of your trust or your will.
#6 – You need to have an estate plan if you have more than $1,500,000. The U.S. estate tax exempts amounts up to $1,500,000 of any estate from the applicable estate tax. If you have assets in excess of that amount, it may be subject to taxes if you don’t have an estate plan. Co-ordinate your estate plans with your asset protection plan. This will ensure your entire estate will be protected.
#7 – Compile potential risk lists. When this is done, then decide what you can self-insure. If there are some risks you can get rid of, do so. Get rid any risks before seeking insurance.
#8 – Unless there is ample insurance coverage, do not serve on any board of directors. If the board is involved with a closely held corporation, reconsider your decision.
#9 – Do not put central focus on asset and lawsuit protection plans. Each of these plans should be integrated with all other financial plans. Your personal insurance policies, income tax strategies and estate plans should all be incorporated.
#10 – Take caution when acquiring the title to land. If the land is contaminated by hazardous waste, you will be liable. Always have the land examined by a qualified environmental waste expert. You don’t have to own the land to be liable. You will be held responsible if you are a trustee, executor or partner.
#11 – Having one sole advisor is not a good idea. Try to get referrals from competent advisors. Having more than one will allow the advisors to work together as a team. This will help devise better protection plans. Before hiring an advisor, make sure to get a second opinion, especially if the advisor works on commission.
#12 – Always pay attention to all legal protocols and follow them.
#13 – Rid yourself of your assets before any claims are made. This will help to avoid losing the assets in a lawsuit.
#14 – Create a plan that will make creditors walk away from your assets, by retaining only a small amount of assets, but nothing that you would want to risk losing if there is a lawsuit.
Protecting yourself from lawsuits and sue-happy lawyers.
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Now that you are aware that there are lawyers just waiting to sue you, you may be asking how you can protect yourself and your assets. The only way to avoid losing your assets if you are sued is to be devoid of those assets. Basically, if you own nothing, there is nothing worth suing for. To put it simply, you would need to sign over all your assets to a trusted individual. While this may be an issue for some people, it is truly the only way to protect and save what you worked so hard to earn and achieve. For example, if you own a business, you are at a high risk of being sued. However, if you sign that business over to a trust, you no longer own the business and no longer have the asset. This does not mean you are ridding yourself of the business. You still control the business, but you do not own it.
This is one of the most common ways to protect assets, especially if you have a lot. There are a variety of other tactics people use to protect themselves from being sued and losing their assets. Not all tactics are legal methods, but they are effective nonetheless. Securing assets with loans from members of your family and transferring your current assets to other family members are two popular ways to avoid lawsuits. Many people will choose to place their assets into limited partnerships, irrevocable trusts or into life insurance policies that are owned by someone other than themselves.
Unfortunately, many people are not aware that there are things that can be done to protect yourself and your assets. The above mention methods are only a few of the many ways. Many people have the misconception that the only way money is safe is if it is in an offshore account. While this method is extremely effective, it may be best to weigh all the options before making a decision.
There are many people who believe that offshore trusts and accounts should be the very last method employed, and this is true. The use of an offshore trust is one of the most common devises used by wealthy individuals who want to protect their assets from those lawyers seeking to sue them. Generally, an offshore trust should be the last resort and it is not the only way to protect your assets, nor is it always the most effective. The key to protecting your assets is to find a way to transfer ownership of those assets.
Another misconception is that jointly owned property is safe. This is far from being true. Jointly owned property is an even higher risk. This is because money hungry creditors of either owner can take any property that is held jointly. So, with joint property, you have doubled the chances of getting sued because the creditor can go after either party.
When devising ways to protect your assets, remember that there are simple ways to do this. You do not need to spend a lot of money on legal fees. It can be as simple as transferring ownership of an asset to a trusted person. Asset protection is an important thing to consider, especially since there are so many lawyers waiting around the corner to get their hands on your money.
It is important to take these steps before you are sued. If you are already involved in a lawsuit and then transfer ownership of your assets, it will be deemed a fraudulent conveyance. This means that the courts can repossess the asset from the transferee. Always remember, you must protect your assets before there are any potential lawsuits filed against you. If you wait until the problem arises, it is too late. If you want to begin the steps to protect your assets, seek out a competent lawyer that is familiar with asset protection and who is well versed in the variations of state laws or simply contact Estate Street Partners.