B.C. woman may lose home over huge lawyer bill


SLM
+1
#1
B.C. woman may lose home over huge lawyer bill

Woman owes $180,000 despite winning lawsuit and being awarded costs

By Kathy Tomlinson CBC News

A B.C. woman stands to lose her home to her lawyer, who is moving to foreclose on her to pay his six-figure bill.
"My friends and family say this can't be happening. There's got to be a mistake," Dale Fotsch said.
Fotsch got into the predicament after being sued by her former common-law husband, even though she won the case and the court ordered him to pay her costs.
"I won, but I lost," Fotsch said. "I defended myself and now I'm losing my place."
Fotsch, 54, lives near Pemberton with her disabled son and earns a modest income. Her only asset is her home and the 12 hectares of land it sits on.
"I've worked two jobs, and I have for the last 25 years," Fotsch said. "When I was hit with this, it was just like a bomb went off in my life."
Case dragged on

A decade ago, her common law ex-husband Leigh Wilson went after Fotsch, trying to get a piece of her property after their breakup. The case took nine years to resolve, which was years longer than her lawyer had predicted, she said.
"There was a three-week trial three weeks! For my little place in the country. I mean, it just seems a little overboard and ridiculous," Fotsch said. "There were three tables of binders, with papers stacked sky high."
She said she had already paid thousands in legal fees when the case finally went to trial in 2007. As it advanced, her lawyer said he wouldn't continue unless she allowed him to secure a $100,000 mortgage against her property, at 18 per cent interest per year.
Fotsch's bill just keeps climbing because of $88 per day in interest charges. (CBC)
Vancouver divorce lawyer Jonas Dubas charges $300 an hour. His invoices to Fotsch include charges like $148.40 to simply call another lawyer and leave a voicemail message.
"Lots of people get a divorce. For some of them, it costs a little bit, but nothing like this. I mean, this is huge," Fotsch said.
When she finally won, in 2010, the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered Fotsch's former husband to pay her court costs. That would have covered at least part of her bill from Dubas which, by then, had reached $90,000.
"When they said he was responsible for the costs, I thought that meant that he was going to pay them," Fotsch said.
$180,000 bill

However, her ex-husband has since declared bankruptcy, so he hasn't paid and she can't force him to. Meanwhile, her legal bill has mushroomed with $88 a day in interest charges and has now reached $180,000.
"I have a hard time sleeping at night. I'm one that keeps my bills paid. I've always paid my bills," Fotsch said.
She said her bank refused to lend her money to pay her lawyer's fees because she already has another mortgage. Dubas has hired his own lawyer who is taking steps to foreclose on Fotsch's home.

"I've done nothing wrong. What have I done wrong?" Fotsch said, choking up in tears.
"I've gone to court like they told me I had to, to save my place. And now the very person that I got to help me is taking it."
Fotsch said she realizes she is responsible for paying, but she said a legal system that would allow her to win her case then lose her home is perverse.
"I'm not bitter at anybody. I'm kind of bitter at myself for getting involved with this man in the first place," she said, referring to her ex-husband. "It has totally wrecked my life.
"But you know, we all make mistakes. It just seems like a big price to pay."
No comment from lawyer

Dubas told Go Public he could not speak on the record about the case, because Fotsch was his client.
But, he said, he deserves to get paid. Dubas also stressed that the mortgage arrangement was perfectly legal and his client agreed to it. He justified the high interest rate by saying other lawyers arrange financing for clients at rates over 20 per cent.
Jonas Dubas said he couldn't comment on the Fotsch case because she was his client. (CBC)
The Law Society of B.C., the governing body for the province's legal profession, would not comment on the case, but said that in general, what Dubas did is not against the rules.
"The law society's rules and regulations do not prohibit a lawyer from loaning money to a client or advancing money... but there are guidelines that should be followed," spokesperson Ben Hadaway said.
"A lawyer may not loan money to a client if the effect of loaning money is to give the lawyer an interest in the matter or impair the lawyer's professional judgment."
Fotsch hasn't filed a complaint with the law society because she's still hoping for a resolution. After her experience with this lawsuit, she said she would do anything to avoid ever having to go to court again.
"I would never go back in there again, not if my life depended on it, for anything. Nothing. What would be the point?"
B.C. woman may lose home over huge lawyer bill - British Columbia - CBC News

Unreal!!
 
L Gilbert
+3
#2
Think I saw a duster movie similar to this. Lawyer likes property, lawyer wants property, does property owner a "favor", performs some legal but extremely ruthless and cold-blooded tricks, wins property. Hero comes along, beats the crap outta lawyer and blows up the lawyer's place while he's beating the crap out of him, returns property rights to original land owner.
This is a bit different.
Some lawyers are all balls, no heart, and sleazy brains. And WTF? $138 phone tab just to leave a message? Someone should kick said lawyer right square in his oversized balls and overinflated ego.
 
shadowshiv
+4
#3  Top Rated Post
It's cases like this that show why lawyers are so detested by pretty much everyone. Pretty classless individual, and it's obvious the only thing that truly matters is the money, not his client.
 
karrie
+3
#4
I think there should be laws about loan rates no matter whos giving out the loan
 
EagleSmack
+1
#5
My friend is a lawyer and he honestly said to me that whenever two lawyers face off in court in cases like this there is an unwritten agreement to drag these cases out as long as possible. He said it does a lawyer no good to quickly settle a case.

Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshiv View Post

It's cases like this that show why lawyers are so detested by pretty much everyone. Pretty classless individual, and it's obvious the only thing that truly matters is the money, not his client.

Exactly. They want to win for their client certainly but they also want to extract as much money as possible.
 
petros
#6
18%? Is this 1980?
 
captain morgan
+2
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

18%? Is this 1980?


The max rate will be in the range of credit card rates.

The moral here is that heading to court should be a last resort as it's only the lawyers that win
 
lone wolf
#8
It's too bad laws are written by lawyers to be interpreted and manipulated by lawyers. You can't win without a lawyer and you can't win with one. I'd be inclined to represent myself and hope the Judge is really worth the honour bestowed upon him/her
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
+1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

It's too bad laws are written by lawyers to be interpreted and manipulated by lawyers. You can't win without a lawyer and you can't win with one. I'd be inclined to represent myself and hope the Judge is really worth the honour bestowed upon him/her

The judge is probably a former lawyer.
 
captain morgan
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiing View Post

The judge is probably a former lawyer.


Probably?

Sorry to inform you, but all of the judiciary are a product of many years of acting as a lawyer.
 
lone wolf
#11
BY the time they become judges, they don't have to practice at law.... Ethics play a part - if it wasn't political favour
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Probably?

Sorry to inform you, but all of the judiciary are a product of many years of acting as a lawyer.

So the probability is rather high then.
 
JLM
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiing View Post

The judge is probably a former lawyer.

I'm pretty sure they all are by law. A magistrate is a little different, he's more into common sense!
 
SLM
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

The max rate will be in the range of credit card rates.

The moral here is that heading to court should be a last resort as it's only the lawyers that win

What else can you do though when your ex sues you for your home? Give in?

This guy is egregiously unethical, even for a lawyer.
 
captain morgan
+1
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

What else can you do though when your ex sues you for your home? Give in?

This guy is egregiously unethical, even for a lawyer.


I don't disagree, but more often than not, the cure is worse than the disease... Sometimes it's just better to table an offer and move along, unfortunately for this lady, she won the battle but lost the war
 
JLM
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

What else can you do though when your ex sues you for your home? Give in?
.

Buy a friggin' gun!

Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Probably?

Sorry to inform you, but all of the judiciary are a product of many years of acting as a lawyer.

Being a lawyer should just automatically disqualify you from entering a court room! -
 
SLM
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

I don't disagree, but more often than not, the cure is worse than the disease... Sometimes it's just better to table an offer and move along, unfortunately for this lady, she won the battle but lost the war

There is something really wrong about that. The concept of making an offer just really offends my sense of fairness. Essentially anyone can, often times on nothing more than a whim, make a claim against something that is rightfully yours and it can end up ruining your life for no other reason than that the adversarial system works in their favour.

We really shouldn't have to weigh the cost of defending ourselves, particularly from claims that are without merit, with the cost of 'giving in'.
 
captain morgan
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

There is something really wrong about that. The concept of making an offer just really offends my sense of fairness. Essentially anyone can, often times on nothing more than a whim, make a claim against something that is rightfully yours and it can end up ruining your life for no other reason than that the adversarial system works in their favour.

We really shouldn't have to weigh the cost of defending ourselves, particularly from claims that are without merit, with the cost of 'giving in'.

Not to be antagonistic here, but chances are that there was a basis in law for the guy's claim (likely related to common law marriage).

The very first thing that this lady should have done was school herself on the basics of the applicable law and then made her decisions from there relative to instructing her lawyer on what route she wanted.

I'll wager that the lawyer she had executed her wishes (knee-jerk reaction wishes) as instructed and didn't truly council her on the best path... Sadly, the woman in question did learn about this facet of the law, but the cost of tuition was obscenely high
 
SLM
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Not to be antagonistic here, but chances are that there was a basis in law for the guy's claim (likely related to common law marriage).

The cost of finding out if there was a basis in law for a claim can be enough to ruin some people. And to be perfectly honest I had another personal family matter scenario in my mind where a claim was made on an estate. Despite the witnesses who could state the individual was very aware of the intentions of the will in the first place, all the advice was to offer a settlement because, even though they may not win in the end, due to there being a basis in law for the original claim it would end up costing either way. (ie they could drag it out)

Quote:

The very first thing that this lady should have done was school herself on the basics of the applicable law and then made her decisions from there relative to instructing her lawyer on what route she wanted.

I'll wager that the lawyer she had executed her wishes (knee-jerk reaction wishes) as instructed and didn't truly council her on the best path... Sadly, the woman in question did learn about this facet of the law, but the cost of tuition was obscenely high

I don't automatically place blame on a lawyer simply because they are a lawyer, that's not my style. But I can approach it from working in a professional office in that our office has the knowledge and it is our responsibility as professionals to guide our clients. To my way of thinking, ethically speaking, a professional should not be taking knee-jerk instructions from a client because the professional is supposed to know better.
 
JLM
#20
Makes one begin to think that not all these drive by shootings and assassinations in shopping malls are based on drugs!-
 

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