Posted by Gary Burger on November 23, 2016
Burger Law is excited to share a commercial litigation success and introduce our new web page for these types of cases. Burger Law has just finished recovering $105,000 on an old debt from a not very solvent defendant.
We sued on a personal guarantee of a loan on behalf of our client, who had gone into the restaurant business with two partners about 10 years ago. The partners lost money so our client kicked them out and ran the restaurant himself. He was able to turn it around and make it profitable.
Then he heard one of the old partners, Joe Sieve, had gotten back on his feet and was working. So, we filed a lawsuit to collect on the loan and try to recover losses Sieve caused. The case was vigorously defended and Sieve went through a number of big law firms. We took his deposition and made some unusual and creative moves.
Sieve said he was given a Release when he left years before so we couldn’t sue him. His copy of the Release had handwriting saying loans were released. But our client denied Sieve had ever signed the release.
So, we went and inspected the original releases and found the key changes were written in pencil. And, because we didn’t think he really signed it till after the suit was brought, we went and found a great handwriting expert who was prepared to testify about when the documents were signed. This rare expert works with the CIA and is able to tell by the rate of evaporation in ink how long ago a document was signed. We obtained a Court Order producing the original release for semi-destructive testing.
We filed a Motion for Prejudgment Attachment of Sieve’s assets which was granted by the Court. So we identified assets even before we won. We argued in briefing that you can’t get out of a loan by pencil changes not countersigned by the lender – that would be crazy and we could all get out of our mortgages that way. The case had many other twists and turns and I will not detail them all here.
We also filed an extensive Motion for Summary Judgment. But, with all of these motions pending, we were able to get the Defendant to settle the case and pay a significant sum. We only settled because the Defendant was prepared to file for bankruptcy, was going to file before trial (and thereby stop the trial) and sent us bankruptcy schedules.
In all commercial litigation cases, we balance the debt size, attorney fees and collectability. We had been threatened by the Defendant with bankruptcy all along and refused to go away. In the end, we were able to get this good and significant recovery for our client. We take these cases hourly and by contingency.