Kelly Law February 2018


Beyond Dollars & Cents


n personal injury law, sometimes you have a case that you take on simply because you believe it’s the right thing to do. Even when you’re up against a seemingly unwinnable battle, it comes down to the simple fact that you believe in the client, you believe in their story, and you know they deserve the justice they’re seeking. Years ago, an elderly couple came into my office with a unique problem. As they were approaching their retirement, with dreams of living the good life in their golden years and sitting back and enjoying everything they’d saved up, a family friend approached them with a proposition. The guy had a large stake in a new development that was popping up in the area, and he offered them a great $50,000 deal to get in on the ground floor. It was a large deposit, the initial investment for their new home on the property, but it would come with a steep discount offered, presumably, by a friend that had their best interests at heart. Excitedly, they agreed. Over the next few months, the couple, eager to see how their new home would turn out, kept driving by the lot that they supposedly owned. Each time, they found no new progress had been made. They were patient, but confused, and each time they called their friend, he’d offer only excuses. “Oh, we have to wait until the ground thaws to put the foundation in”— something along those lines. Finally, months after they’d put a massive chunk of their hard-earned money into a promising project, they picked up the morning paper to find that the developer had gone bankrupt. Their 50 grand was gone in a puff of smoke. By now, their friend had stopped answering their calls altogether, completely ghosting on these people that had put their trust in him.

When the couple came to me, they were near the end of their rope. Other lawyers in the area had turned their case down almost immediately, telling them there was no way to recover their $50,000. The guy had gone bankrupt, so what could be done? Their story broke my heart. Both of them were two of the sweetest people you’d ever meet, and they’d been taken advantage of so wholly, right as they were moving into their retirement. Though I knew we’d be fighting an uphill battle, I took on the case, wanting to do anything I possibly could for these wonderful people. Over the next few years, we fought tooth and nail to get their money back, eventually going all the way to trial. In court, we got a verdict against one of the developers to the tune of $180,000 for the couple. The defendants did their best to appeal the decision, dragging it out even longer, but ultimately, we were able to support the judgement in the appellate court. To this day, that particular individual’s wages are being garnished, and my client is getting a payment in his mailbox every month that has truly helped him enjoy his golden years just as he intended. Unfortunately, his wife passed away shortly after the appellate decision so she didn’t really have the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of their labor, but to me, that makes it all the more important that her husband got the verdict he deserved. After all, the money from the settlement helped him to take care of her in their own home longer than he otherwise would have been able to, and what’s more important than that? Other firms may call us suckers for taking on cases like these, and sometimes, it comes back to bite us. But whether or not our firm pulls a big check, you just have to fight for what you believe in and do the right thing for people.

–Beth Brown



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