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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Lawyer
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Im 63, in Iowa. In business 41 yrs. I have an excellent reputation.

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I'm 63, in Iowa. In business 41 yrs. I have an excellent reputation. A business associate I have used as an expert consultant for about 4 yrs - I use my web site (I am in IA & on SSDI, so do this part time for a little extra money) to find art & antiques
to "broker" o.b.o. the owner & my associate for Tiffany items in this case, helps authenticate & find buyers. He is a *world famous* expert. He sometimes pays the seller up front, because he is wealthy & can afford to, & then re-sells the item (s) to buyers
he knows. Recently he did that on something ($44k he paid) he found quickly was stolen in 2012. We reported it to the owner & police ASAP & he returned the merchandise. My consultant is out $44k & the thieves are in jail. He feels *I* should be the one to
"retain counsel for MYSELF" to help him get his $ back (no chance he will!) and I feel this is ridiculous. He & I both fully cooperated with the police & my brokerage agreement protects me - states that Seller has "clear & legal title" to anything I should
sell on their behalf, etc. HOW do I get this man who is out the $ to get off me & if he wants to "toss good money after bad," to hire his OWN attorney? Isn't that what should happen here? Thank you very much!!
My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
Why would you need to retain counsel for yourself? Are there currently any allegations against you? Do you have a written agreement with the consultant where you agree to indemnify him if he should accidentally purchase stolen goods?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Lucy, No allegations against me at all. The New Orleans Police detectives & the doctor who lived there & was there when I spoke with them were ALL very happy I sent them 101 emails with photos (including a photo of one of the family thieves holding a piece of stolen property!) and sent them the bank wire info (my associate expert actually sent that, since he paid from his own money for the things) & they got what was shipped to my expert back in 1 business day by UPS all intact! I have NO agreement & never have with anyone I work with or use as help or as a consultant, in this case especially. He has his own private consulting firm & I am "dba" and have my own part time business via web site. This expert & I have always been friendly & kept all but the brokerage agreements which I draw up if/when I am hired to "broker" an item (s) for the owner, very informal. I have done scores of Tiffany lamp deals with this man over 4 yrs. without a hitch. As you know & everyone knows, even museums have bought things for huge money that they later found were stolen! They are out the money & have to return the items. It's a business risk in many businesses. My expert, I think, is embarrassed & angry. But the poor thieves have no assets that the doctor won't seize first. And he has the real "legal standing" in this case. I never tell my expert what to do. He makes his own decisions if he is interested in even getting involved, and then decides on a price if he decides to pay for it himself and then sell it when he can. That's 100% his call. But he is really pushing me - demanding almost - that it is MY responsibility to hire legal counsel for myself (I don't need any!) to then help HIM get HIS money back! He has helped me monthly financially, so I can stay in my home, and if something sells he gets paid back, but he offered to do it I think because he knew/knows I can find things he can make pretty good money on, even though as I said he is VERY wealthy. So he is now controlling and without saying it, he knows I fear if I don't do his bidding he will no longer help me monthly with a "stipend" or gift, and I will lose my home and be on the street. Not a nice guy when he is in a position of embarrassment or money loss it now seems clear. I will try to attach the agreement I use/used for this deal, so you can see the two articles at least, where I protect myself as best I can, from taking anything that is without clear and legal title. I am hoping I can get an attorney to tell my expert he has LITTLE chance in recovering his money, due to the thieves having no assets & the doctor is first in line. And...that importantly to ME, it is not my place or "standing" here, who is out the money & who should be hiring someone to get my money back. I lost a small commission, but I did not buy the items or lose $44,000. I hope this is somewhat clearer now. The detectives told me it could be 6-8 months before the thing goes to trial. My father & grandfather were both prominent attorneys here. I protect myself every way I possibly can and have never had any problems until now. - XXXX

Thank you.
There is no reason to hire an attorney to represent yourself if no one is claiming that you did anything wrong. There is also no legal basis for him to try to force you to hire an attorney for him. I can understand that he's upset to be out all that money, and I would be, too, but the law doesn't allow him to just shift that to you. The agreement that you attached requires him to provide you items with good title that can be sold. Not only does it not require that you hire a lawyer to defend him, if you had lost money on the deal, it would require him to repay you.
He can demand as much or as loudly as he wants, but there is nothing in the law that requires you to take any legal action. He does have the right to sue the thieves for what he's out - even if they don't have assets now, a judgment is good for ten years and it can be renewed. Also, if the victim got the lamps back, he can't sue for their value. If he didn't get them back, if he has insurance, he may prefer to just have insurance reimburse him instead of spending years trying to collect. But that's not really relevant. Liability is about who is legally responsible - it doesn't have anything to do with who can afford to pay. And you're not liable (whether you can afford to pay or not).
The scenario that you're describing is starting to sound quite a bit like extortion. Threatening to harm someone's business or property if they don't give you money is a felony. Iowa Code, Section 711.4.
If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Lucy, Thanks for the nice, reassuring reply. My main concern for me is actually, as much as I dislike how moody he is, to have this man who paid the $44k take it as a dam business deduction (a loss!) and in his income bracket, it would probably work for him! I have nothing but going month to month & I would like to still work with this guy. I just need someone he will believe to tell him what you said, and also don;t you think an attorney I or he would hire down south would want a $10-20,000 up front retainer and then charge by the hour for hour for this?? He would be end up spending as much as he lost and get nothing back! It's lunacy, unless I am missing something. The doctor had no insurance on this stuff or didn't want to turn in a claim for fear of being cancelled since he has a HUGE collection of art and antiques worth millions. So he wants to keep it low key, as did my expert and me. That's another reason my expert wants me to instigate things (and he said he would pay all the legal costs) - he doesn't want HIS name to be one that could leak out as getting scammed! Well, too bad. People lose money alll the time - whether it is from a Ponzi Scheme or something like this,a nd most cannot afford it like my expert can afford it! I have written a friend I have known since 1973, Roxanne XXXXXX (Google her) who was US Attorney General in IA in the 1970's-early 80's and the first woman AG ever in the US I believe, and past president of the American Trial Lawyers Association, etc. She also successfully sued Microsoft: Comes v. Microsoft (2006 - 2007) and she collects and bought antiques from me back in the 1970's. It's my HOPE or someone she knows without cost to me, will talk to my expert and explain to him how this works and what is right and what is not right or fair. I NEED his help, and have no back up plan. My health is such that I could never live out of my car or in a shelter. There is a year+ wait for Medicaid even if I sold ALL I HAVE and could get on it - then another year wait for public housing! The whole thing is just tearing me up thinking about the outcome. I had hoped to make a large find of art or something and make enough from that I could have financial security for several years at $800. a month or so I would be short w/out my expert's help. But I need a computer and the Internet, etc. to be able to do that of course. If I lose those things, I might as well be dead. Ref: Roxanne XXXXXX served as Plaintiffs' co-lead counsel in this indirect purchaser antitrust class action brought on behalf of Iowa consumers. She obtained a $179.95 million settlement from Microsoft after three intense months of trial in Polk County District Court. Microsoft agreed to provide up to $179.95 million in cash to consumers and vouchers to volume purchasers who purchased Microsoft operating systems and applications between May 18, 1994 and June 30, 2006. The Comes settlement is unique because unlike any other indirect purchaser, class action settlement with Microsoft to date, the Comes settlement provided consumers with cash payments, and up to $200 without proof of purchase. Any suggestions on how to handle things? My expert doesn't want to talk to me, but is still wanting my help! His last email to me, after I recently found him another less valuable lamp to sell to one of his collectors he knows, and he is going to pay $7300. for it: "Payment to Challis processed; it will be wired Monday a.m. I am awaiting confirmation from you when you have retained legal counsel. Thank you." Is this guy COLD or what?? I don't understand him, except he is a big ego, wealthy guy, used to getting his way, uses people for his own gains, and waxes and wanes from being very friendly (first two years we exchanged Xmas gifts, I spoke to his wife and kids on the phone and I got family photos) and complimenting me on a job well done and on my high work ethic and professionalism, to being terse and insulting to me. As you said, without coming out and saying it, also hinting that I had better do as he says and help HIM on this, or else we won't be doing business any more & that will be the start of a six month stay in my foreclosed town home, not paying anything but basic bills, and then for me, the end. My local attorney friends who were friends with my father are going to use Martindale & Hubbell on Monday, & see who is in New Orleans A+ rated who I could present this to by email or phone. But I suspect anyone down there would laugh and say what you said, or tell me they will take it but they want $20,000 retainer, and then it will be $300-500/hour billed monthly! Thank you please your final thoughts. I am physically much more ill due to all this stress over this deal! - Regards, ***** *****

You're right that an attorney could get really expensive and he could get nothing in return. I assume that's why he wants you to pay for the lawyer - so he doesn't have to. That way, he's not out more than what he already lost, and he could potentially recover some of it (although it's unlikely).
You could ask a lawyer to send him a letter explaining that you have no obligations to him. It's entirely possible that a local attorney would agree to represent you - but it could be very expensive. You could also try sending a letter yourself, explaining categorically that you have no legal obligation to assist him with this matter. You could also try explaining to him that his actions come very close to the legal definition of extortion, but that may just make him more angry.
I hope you can find a way to salvage the business relationship without throwing your good money after his bad.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
A final hello Lucy,My father and grandfather were both very well known and respected attorneys here in Des Moines. Some of my father's prominent attorney friends are still alive and practicing, and I will tap them for help. This man said he would PAY for *my legal expenses,* but he is ignoring or choosing to ignore the fact that HE should be the client, not me, due to his being out $44,000, not me! Again, I think he thinks if I file it he will stay under the radar or something. He is a highly intelligent person, so I don't understand what he is doing at all, unless it is to give him an excuse to be *more* angry (misdirected) with me, and to give him an excuse to no longer work with me or help me out monthly. Anyhow, I will have 2-3 people locally call me soon I hope from messages I left Friday with them. I feel pretty sure I can get one of them to help me with him. If he wants to PAY for it, I can find him an attorney in New Orleans probably to take his case. But they will want HIM to be the plaintiff, not me! He is the injured party, not me. When the time comes I will be happy to be deposed here, but until then I am going to try to keep my relationship with him, and tell him for free what my legal experts have said are his options - or have them call him and tell him if they are willing. I will go from there and hope he sees he is still better off working with me than having me as competition or as someone who dislikes him immensely, due to what he might do or try to do to me professionally and personally. I am not sure how long you have been in practice, but I thank you for your wisdom and your common sense advice and legal facts. I will add to that next week. I will give you your first top rating! - Thank you very much!
I hope it all works out for you. You're right that he would be the plaintiff in any event, and it can be tricky, from an ethical standpoint, to represent a client when a third party is paying the bills. (It's possible, but there are some possible issues.) Good luck.
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