Monday, April 20, 2009
This may be a long post, but if you stick it out, you'll see why a single word can be the difference between keeping your house and losing your house.
Here's a question more Senators and Representatives might want to ask themselves: Do the laws we pass really do what we hope they'll do?
That's the question I ask myself everytime I see a "Truth-In-Lending" Statement. The "Truth-In-Lending" statement (or, more formally, the "Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement," which then gets called the TILDS by people who feel the need to have acronyms for everything [or "PWFTNTHAFE") is that thing that you don't read everytime you open a new credit card, or buy a car, or refinance your mortgage.
You're supposed to read it, of course, and you probably signed a statement saying that you did read it, and you probably did read some of it, but you didn't really read it.
And you didn't really need to, either. Not because (as I've said before) you're sometimes better off not reading things people give you to sign, and not because (as I've also said before) sometimes you sign things that aren't enforceable even if you read them and understood them. No, you probably didn't need to read your Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement (or TILDS, remember, because the P.W.F.T.N.T.H.A.F.E. will want to call it that) at all.
You didn't need to read your Truth In Lending Disclosure statement for a lot of reasons. First, you didn't need to read it because in many cases, it doesn't matter what it says. And second, you didn't need to read it because you may not understand the information on it, anyway.
Let's look at each of those, in the opposite order I brought them up.
The Truth-In-Lending Disclosure Statement has to be given to anyone who's entering into a "consumer credit transaction," (and some leases) which should mean anyone who's borrowing money for non-business reasons, but doesn't. There are a bunch of occasions where a "Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement" doesn't need to be given, occasions where even though it seems like it's a "consumer credit transaction," the law says it's not. Like if you're borrowing more than $25,000 at one time, regardless of why you're borrowing that money, it's not a "consumer credit transaction" so far as the law is concerned. Unless you're borrowing that money to refinance your house. Then it is a "consumer credit transaction."
You shouldn't be: The "Truth In Lending Act" (the law that requires that the "Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement" be given) was enacted so that you wouldn't be confused; it's right there in the law.
Anyway, when you enter into a "consumer credit transaction," you have to be given certain information because Congress wants you to be informed so that the economy works right. The information you have to be given, up front, generally, includes the "Annual Percentage Rate," the "Finance Charge," the amount you're borrowing, and the total amount of money that credit will cost you. This information is usually (and is supposed to be) set out in a set of boxes at or near the top of your "Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement,", which usually looks like this:
And the "Annual Percentage Rate" and "Finance Charge" are in those highlighted boxes to the left.
That seems straightforward enough, right? The annual rate of interest, and the amount of interest you'll be charged, set out right there. Great, right?
Except that those terms don't mean what you and I think they mean. When you see "Annual Percentage Rate" on bank accounts, car loans, and, for you guys at AIG and Goldman Sachs, on derivative investments into mortgage-backed securities, you know what an "Annual Percentage Rate" is -- it's the amount of annual interest you'll earn on your investment (or pay on your loan.) So if you put $10,000 into a CD for a year, and that CD earns 5% interest compounded monthly, you'll have an "Annual Percentage Rate" of just over 5% -- because you'll earn interest on your interest. So at the end of the year, you don't have $10,500, you have $10,511.62 -- for an Annual Percentage Rate of 5.116%.
(Technically, that's not actually an "Annual Percentage Rate," it's an annual percentage yield, but the theory is the same, and people say "APR" for that calculation.)
An "annual percentage rate" means something to people: It means annual interest. But that's not what the Truth In Lending Act defines "annual percentage rate" as. Here is the actual definition that Congress used in defining what "Annual Percentage Rate" means for people borrowing against their home:
(A) that nominal annual percentage rate which will yield a
sum equal to the amount of the finance charge when it is
applied to the unpaid balances of the amount financed,
calculated according to the actuarial method of allocating
payments made on a debt between the amount financed and the
amount of the finance charge, pursuant to which a payment is
applied first to the accumulated finance charge and the balance
is applied to the unpaid amount financed; or
(B) the rate determined by any method prescribed by the Board
as a method which materially simplifies computation while
retaining reasonable accuracy as compared with the rate
determined under subparagraph (A).
Got all that? That's how Congress says "Interest." But what's important about that definition is this: It includes the term "finance charge," which itself has a special, Congress-mandated definition. The "finance charge" to you and me is "the amount of money I'm charged as interest," but that's not what it means to Congress, and so that's not what it means in the law. The "finance charge" under the Truth In Lending Act is not just "interest." It's:
the sum of all charges, payable directly or indirectly by the person to whom the credit is extended, and imposed directly or indirectly by the creditor as an incident to the extension of credit. The finance charge does not include charges of a type payable in a comparable cash transaction. The finance charge shall not include fees and amounts imposed by third party closing agents (including settlement agents, attorneys, and escrow and title companies) if the creditor does not require the imposition of the charges or the services provided and does not retain the charges. Examples of charges which are included in the finance charge include any of the following types of charges which are applicable: (1) Interest, time price differential, and any amount payable under a point, discount, or other system or additional charges. (2) Service or carrying charge. (3) Loan fee, finder's fee, or similar charge. (4) Fee for an investigation or credit report. (5) Premium or other charge for any guarantee or insurance protecting the creditor against the obligor's default or other credit loss. (6) Borrower-paid mortgage broker fees, including fees paid directly to the broker or the lender (for delivery to the broker) whether such fees are paid in cash or financed. Feel more informed now? That doesn't even include things like insurance premiums, which have a whole 'nother paragraph just to determine if they are part of the finance charge or not.
Here's what it boils down to: the "Annual Percentage Rate" is not the interest rate you agreed to pay in your contract. It may equal that amount, or it may not. It may be an entirely fictional rate, because the "Annual Percentage Rate" is determined by first figuring out what the "amount financed" is, and then figuring out what rate of interest would have to be charged to get from the amount you're borrowing to the "finance charge."
Feel more informed now? I know of one case in which the borrower agreed to a loan with an interest rate of about 8.25% -- but the "Annual Percentage Rate" shown on the paperwork was over 12% - -nearly 50% higher. As a lawyer practicing in this area, I know how that can end up happening. The people who signed those papers, though, didn't.
Which means that the "Truth In Lending Act" didn't do its job. It was enacted, it exists, to help consumers be informed, and consumers aren't informed by it, at all.
Which brings up the other point I made: It doesn't matter if you read it or not, because that information doesn't have any practical effect. Here's why:
Congress came up with the "Truth In Lending Act" to help you, the consumer, be more informed, so that you could make smart choices about credit and negotiate better. But nobody negotiates these things, much, and the people who need the information the most are the people least equipped to use that information.
I don't mean that in a bad way. Here's how I mean that: The Truth In Lending Act exempts -- leaves out -- transactions of more than $25,000 (unless it's a home refinance) and the reason for that is that if you're borrowing more than $25,000 at one time, then you're probably in a situation where you can negotiate with the lender directly to get credit terms and agreements that you understand and which are in your interests. Under $25,000, the law assumes that you need protection from lenders.
And the law is generally right about that: people who don't have a lot of borrowing power need some help from the government to make sure lenders play fair. Here's where the law goes wrong, though:
People who don't have a lot of borrowing power don't have a lot of borrowing options. Comparing costs of credit is pointless when you only have one offer.
Here's a true-life example: Me. I was in law school and went to try to buy a car. The dealer ran my credit and came back out and said he could get me a car for a monthly payment of about $350. I said I couldn't afford $350. I wanted a monthly payment of $250 or less. He couldn't do that. I left without a car.
I never looked at the interest rate, or the "Finance Charge" or anything else. The only thing I was concerned about was the monthly payment, because I knew what I could afford per month. It didn't matter to me if the car cost $53,000,000 over time -- what I wanted to know, what I needed to know, and all I cared about, was "How much is the monthly payment?"
And I didn't have 2, or 3, or 15 offers to choose from. I had one: $350 per month. Or no car.
That's where many people find themselves. Many people find themselves in a situation where they need credit and they have an offer for credit, and it doesn't matter what that offer is, it only matters that the person needs the money and can afford the payment. So it doesn't matter if they read the "Annual Percentage Rate" disclosures or not. It doesn't matter if they understand how a "Finance Charge" is calculated, or not. It matters that they need the money and they can afford the monthly payment.
Not all people are like that, I know. A lot of people can pick and choose their credit. A lot of people have money, or good credit, or both. But those people don't need disclosures; those people are in a situation where they can pick and choose and ask questions and discuss things, and figure things out. Those people would get the information they needed, anyway, and make informed credit choices anyway.
It's the people who don't have the option of making informed credit choices who need help against lenders, and the help they're getting is not the right kind of help. The help they get is information that's difficult to understand and which serves no real purpose.
It's made even worse by the other disclosures that have to be made. Look at that form again:
There's a lot of information on there, and almost none of it is easily understandable. Payment schedule and the like is easy enough -- and likely the most important thing on there -- but the rest: "Security," "Assumption" "Property Insurance," things like that -- those are included on the face of the document as though they're important, but ask yourself this: When you bought your house, your car, took out your credit card, did you think "Really, before I borrow this money, I'd like to know if someone who buys this property from me can assume the mortgage on its original terms?"
To make things worse, there are even more things required to be given when you open a line of credit, or borrow money for your house, until the borrower has a wealth of information, all of which needs to be covered in a short period of time at a closing, most of which is not important to the borrower, and, which, in many cases, is completely irrelevant, because many borrowers don't have a choice.
Our government has made a policy decision: It intervened in the markets, long ago, passing the "Truth In Lending Act." It passed that Act to help borrowers understand the credit they were taking out. But is the law working? Did the homeowners who are being foreclosed on these days make an informed choice about the credit they were taking out? Did the lenders?
But, whether or not it works, the Truth In Lending Act has some teeth to it. It may not do very good in providing you and me and them information, but it works great when it comes time to stick it to a lender who made a typographical error.
That's what happened in the case of Hamm v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company. In this case (which was actually two cases combined), some people borrowed money, secured by a mortgage.
Because they were giving a mortgage in their house, the Truth In Lending Act required various disclosures to be made -- the disclosures I talked about forever in this post before getting to the good stuff.
One of the disclosures the law requires is this: The lender has to state the "“[t]he number, amount, and due dates or period of payments scheduled to repay the total of payments,” meaning the lender has to tell you how often your house payments are due.
Well, that seems obvious enough, right?
Ameriquest, in the Hamm case, said that the borrowers had to make 360 payments, over 30 years. They gave a date for the first payment, and a date for the last payment.
But they didn't give any other due dates for payments. They didn't tell how frequently payments had to be made. Reading the Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement literally, a person might assume that they would make payment 1 on the first date, then wait 29 years and make the remaining 359 payments all in the final year.
That was what a Court of Appeals held, anyway: they ruled that the Truth In Lending Disclosure Statements didn't have the required information. Specifically, the statements didn't say:
If they had, the statements would have been fine. But they didn't have that word, "monthly," and even though most people would assume they'd be paying monthly, the word (or something similar) is required by law.
The borrowers got to "rescind" their loans -- meaning they got to tell the lender to release the mortgage and give them back all the money they'd ever paid the lender.
So that's what the Truth In Lending Act boils down to: You get a lot of information you don't want and can't use, really -- but if the lender leaves out a word, even a word you probably didn't need in there -- you can force them to give up your mortgage and give back all your money.
So I got to the good stuff, didn't I? Raise your hand if you're going to rush home and look at your Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement on your home loan to see if you get all your money back. I know I did just that when I read this case.
Note: The Truth In Lending Act's requirements do not apply to all loans, and there are time limits on exercising rights under the Act. Also, in general, a borrower who 'rescinds' the loan may have to give the lender back the money he or she got from the lender. The bottom line, as always, is CONSULT A LAWYER!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
(Comic courtesy of XKCD.)
The "End User License Agreement" in that comic is an extreme example of something that happens to you everyday: you agree to all kinds of things just by going about your ordinary business, or by buying a ticket, or by signing up for something.
I was watching CNNHLN/AFLCIO the other day, and Robin & Company were discussing whether baseball tickets had a waiver or restriction of rights on the back of them. Most of the tickets that I've seen do -- you buy your tickets, pick them up, and are informed... after you buy them... that you've given up all kinds of rights and obligations.
Credit cards do it, too. Apply for a credit card, and they'll send you one, with all kinds of rules and waivers and restrictions that you agree to by activating the card. Then, they can change the terms on you. All that "junk mail" you get from them, with all those fine-print brochures? Read one of them, once. Many times, they contain important changes to your cardholder agreement, changes you can reject -- if you close your account and pay your balance in full, right away.
Hotels and recreational facilities do it: they require that you sign waivers of liability. When I went skydiving, I waived liability on the part of the skydiving instructor by signing a form agreeing not to sue him.
And when you order a computer and open up the box? Sometimes you've agreed to a whole bunch of stuff, right then.
Is this legal?
Probably. Maybe. Maybe not. As any good lawyer will tell you about any good legal question: It all depends.
All of these questions involve contract law -- contracts being an agreement between two people. "Black letter" contract law -- "black letter" being a legal phrase meaning, more or less "well-settled and no longer arguable" says that a contract involves an offer by one person, an acceptance by another, and "consideration," meaning that something of value is exchanged.
So when I go into a store and pick up a box of cookies and pay for it, a contract was formed: The store offered the cookies for sale, I accepted, and we exchanged values: some worthless paper money in exchange for delicious, delicious cookies.
That's a simple contract, and one that everyone understands. A contract is formed when you agree to hire me as your lawyer: I offer to represent you, you accept, you promise to pay me, I promise to do the work you want me to do. The exchange of promises is the "consideration," or the values exchanged. You've got a contract with your employer: You promise to show up and work (or, sometimes, blog) and your boss promises to pay you.
Waivers, cardholder agreements, "End User License Agreements" and the like are also contracts. But problems come up with them because classic -- black letter -- contract law assumes that the parties have more-or-less equal bargaining power and more-or-less equal access to information, and that there is what law professors (and sometimes courts) call a "Meeting of the Minds" -- a legal phrase meaning that the parties agree on all the essential terms of their contract.
So again, in simpler terms: I and the grocery store are equal in bargaining power: I can always leave and go to another grocery store. They have lots of competition. We each have all the information necessary: I know the price of the delicious cookies, they know I have cash.
But what about when you don't have that information beforehand? What if I tried to buy the cookies and there was a sign in the store that I hadn't noticed which said that by buying the cookies, I was agreeing to pay the store $10 a week for the rest of my life?
Ridiculous, you say? Such things have happened-- maybe not as dramatically as my example, but binding contracts have been enforced on people who didn't know, in advance, what they were agreeing to.
In the case of Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, the Shutes lived in Washington state and bought some cruise tickets through a travel agent. They then traveled to Los Angeles for the cruise, which took them from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta and back. While in international waters, Ms. Shute slipped and was injured, and eventually the Shutes sued. Their lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington. The cruise line said no way -- and asked that the Court enforce a "forum selection clause," a contract term that sets out where a lawsuit must be heard. In this case, the cruise line's contract said that all lawsuits had to be filed against them in Florida.
The problem was that the "forum selection clause" were attached to the tickets that the Shutes received through their travel agent, and the tickets asserted that the contracts, including the forum selection clause, was binding on the Shutes-- who didn't know when they bought the tickets and paid their money that they were agreeing, if they had to, to file lawsuits all the way across the country.
The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which sided with the cruise line -- finding that the agreement was a reasonable one and forcing the Shutes to file their suit in Florida.
Makes it a lot harder to sue a company if you've got to travel 3,000 miles to testify, doesn't it?
So if contracts that a person didn't have a chance to read before agreeing to them are binding, then a contract that a knowledgeable person reads and signs off on before doing something must be binding, right?
Maybe. Maybe not. Consider Atkins vs. Swimwest Family Fitness Center, a Wisconsin case brought by a child after his mother drowned while swimming at the fitness center. The mother in question was a doctor who went to the pool for physical therapy and rehabilitation. When she went swimming there, the doctor signed a card that registered her as a guest and said this:
WAIVER RELEASE STATEMENT
I AGREE TO ASSUME ALL LIABILITY FOR MYSELF WITHOUT REGARD TO FAULT, WHILE AT SWIMWEST FAMILY FITNESS CENTER. I FURTHER AGREE TO HOLD HARMLESS SWIMWEST FITNESS CENTER, OR ANY OF ITS EMPLOYEES FOR ANY CONDITIONS OR INJURY THAT MAY RESULT TO MYSELF WHILE AT THE SWIMWEST FITNESS CENTER. I HAVE READ THE FOREGOING AND UNDERSTAND ITS CONTENTS.
The doctor signed it and went swimming, and, unfortunately, drowned. Her son then sued the pool for negligence, but the trial court dismissed the case, saying that the doctor had, by signing, waived any right to bring such claims.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed, and ruled that the contract was unenforceable. It said the contract was too broad -- because it says "fault," -- and the contract had two functions (registering and waiving claims) -- and it said that there was "little or no opportunity to bargain or negotiate" in regard to the language of the waiver.
Think about each of those. The contract was on one 3x5 card and didn't have much language on it. The word "fault" isn't an overly-difficult word. And didn't the doctor have a chance to bargain... by walking out? If she didn't want to waive those claims, couldn't she had said "I'd rather not swim here?"
I'm not necessarily criticizing either the doctor or the court. It's just that there's a lack of clarity here -- the Shutes had no opportunity to bargain about whether they wanted to sue a cruise company in Florida, but they had to do so: They had to agree to the forum selection clause, or try to return their tickets and find another cruise ship company that wouldn't require them to travel across country to file a lawsuit.
The doctor in Atkins, though, was given the card before she went swimming, and hadn't yet paid any money when she signed.
Even though the courts don't come right out and say it, the question may be one of what was given up: The Shutes didn't give up their right to sue, they only gave up their right to sue in any location but Florida. The doctor, though, gave up all right to sue the fitness center, period. A strict reading of the contract would free the fitness center from any claims for any fault -- including, maybe, a claim that an employee had deliberately done something wrong.
It's a complex world we live in, and simple rules of contract law have a way of getting more and more complicated as people -- lawyers -- find ways to draw distinctions and force issues.
One thing remains clear, though: You read the headline, so you owe me $100,000. I'll take cash.
Friday, April 10, 2009
If something seems to be wrong, it is.
It just is.
That's the message I'd like to get across to, well, everybody. Day in and day out, I deal with people who have had things go wrong: house purchases, marriages, warranties, and, occasionally, legal representation. Most of these people say things like it sort of felt like that wasn't right but I didn't know what to do.
I'll tell you what you do: Stop.
Don't buy the house. Don't buy the warranty. And for God's sake, don't hastily sell your farm to your lawyer just before he loses his law license.
This helpful advice comes too late for Francis and Karen Groshek, but, luckily, they've gotten some decent help anyway and maybe will not have lost everything as a result of their failing to put the brakes on something that should have seemed wrong from the start.
Back in 2004, the Grosheks, who owned 75 acres of land on which they operated a saw mill, fell behind in their payments to their bank, resulting in "foreclosure" and "replevin." ("Replevin" is fancy lawyer talk for "we're gonna take your stuff back." A bank or creditor "replevins" personal property, like a car or maybe the sawmill works. If lawyers said "take back" we couldn't charge you $235 an hour to do it.)
The Grosheks hired Attorney Michael Trewin to represent them in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy , in which a plan was set up to pay back the bank and restore them to good standing.
The Grosheks hired Michael Trewin in March, 2004, or thereabouts. In July, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Trewin's license to practice law, effective August 31, 2004. The reason for doing that? Trewin was found to have engaged in a series of troubling (and unethical) financial transactions including loaning money to clients who were experiencing serious financial problems, among other things.
In August, 2004, Trewin... wait for it... entered into a financial transaction with the Grosheks, who were experiencing serious financial problems.
Lawyers in Wisconsin are regulated (among other regulations) by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which establishes ethics rules; violations of the rules of ethics can lead to disciplinary actions against the lawyer ranging from reprimands to disbarment. The rules very -- very-- strictly regulate what kinds of deals can be made between lawyers and clients and what kinds of disclosures need to be given to clients.
When you see something that's very, very strictly regulated, that should set off warning bells in your mind. If a transaction is so complicated, so fraught with peril, so dangerous, that there are umpteen billion rules regulating who can do it and when and how, the odds are that you're better off not doing that thing in the first place.
Or, as I said: If something seems to be wrong, it is.
Trewin's license, then, was going to be suspended effective August 31, 2004. At the same time, the Grosheks were having trouble making the payments they were supposed to make in their Chapter 13 bankruptcy (remember, in "Chapter 13," the debtors have to pay back at least some of the money they owe.) So the Grosheks were in a triple-whammy position: No money, no bankruptcy protection, and no lawyer.
Luckily... excuse me, I should say: "Luckily," (note the quotes) for the Grosheks, Trewin had a solution to all three problems: He offered to buy the Grosheks land for the amount they owed the bank, and as part of the deal, Groshek would sell off 40 acres to a neighbor, and also would give the Grosheks the right to buy back the remaining 35 acres for $239,585 less the proceeds of the 40 acres. In between selling it to Trewin and buying it back (if they could) the Grosheks would pay Trewin $1,300 a month to rent their own land from him.
What a sweet deal, right? Excuse me, I should say "sweet deal."
Now, the moment Trewin suggested that he buy the land and sell it to the neighbors, the Grosheks should have said "Wait, why do that? Why don't we just sell it to the neighbors, ourselves?" And it appears they did that, in part. But they did more, too: under pressure from Trewin, they signed a "conflict of interest waiver" -- a form that says, basically, We understand that our lawyer may have a conflict of interest here but we don't care -- and then went through with the deal.
Within two months, the Grosheks had sold off 40 acres to their neighbors for $108,000, and then sold their house and the remaining thirty-five acres of land to Trewin (who was now their former lawyer, and was still suspended from practicing law) for $94,500.
As part of that deal, they got the benefit of renting their own land from Groshek for the $1,300 per month price, and they could buy their property back... for $127,500.
That's a nice little profit for Attorney Trewin, isn't it? That's a 34.9% return on his money.
Here's the hidden underbelly to this transaction: when he was negotiating with his bank to get the money to do this deal, Trewin -- the Groshek's lawyer, remember, the guy who was hired to help them -- told the Bank that he was going to subdivide the property into twenty-four lots, and sell each for anywhere between $175,000 and $200,000.
24 x $175,000 = $4,200,000.
Trewin told the Bank, in essence, that his clients' land was worth as much as $4.2 million -- and that he was buying it from them for $94,500.
Trewin, it seems, never told his clients that their land was worth as much as $4.2 million.
Later on, of course, Trewin cancelled the lease and the Grosheks finally got some real legal help and sued, suing for a "breach of fiduciary duty."
A "fiduciary" is someone who works for you and who has to put your interests ahead of his or her own. Attorneys are fiduciaries, more or less always. An attorney is expected to give you advice on how to better your position, and not take shameless advantage of you to profit himself.
Let's take a hypothetical example. Suppose an attorney, representing a client, was aware that (a) the client needed money and (b) the client was sitting on a possible gold mine of development opportunities in the form of land worth as much as $4.2 million.
That attorney would have the duty to tell the client about that possibility, and advise the client that the client might want to seek to sell of some land at $175,000 a lot and pay off the debt to the bank -- you know, by selling off two lots -- and that attorney, because of the fiduciary duty owed to the client, would be prohibited from, say, misleading the client into selling off their land and making the attorney potentially a rich man.
Which is exactly what the Court held, here: When the Grosheks sued, they won. The trial judge found that Trewin's actions were "predatory" (hey, you like to hear that about your own lawyer, right?) and that Trewin had breached his fiduciary duty to the Grosheks.
The Court then allowed the Grosheks to "rescind" the transaction -- undoing it. They would have to give back at least some of the money to Trewin (there's really no free lunch in the law) but they'd get their land back and they have the opportunity to become rich off of it.
Some of the fascinating things to come out of this case are the details that emerge. The circuit court ruled that Trewin had instigated the whole idea, and found that the Grosheks never really understood the transaction. The court noted that the Grosheks, though, feld that it was a rush deal because Trewin was losing his license on August 31 -- and so they rushed to sign papers before that day, papers that included not disclosing the purchase price, the buy-back procedure, or the profit that would be made. They signed the papers on August 30 because Trewin insisted that they had to do so that day.
I'm not faulting the Grosheks for entering into the transaction. I don't know their own personal circumstances, and people want to trust their lawyers. They need to trust their lawyers, which is one reason why malpractice suits and breach of fiduciary duty suits exist. And the Grosheks didn't have access, before all of this, to something like this blog, which can make it exceedingly simple for you to avoid this kind of trouble, by presenting you some clear, simple rules to follow.
Rules like If your lawyer is losing his license, DON'T follow his advice.
And rules like If something seems to be wrong, it is.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... and maybe he was. Alone, drifting through space with nothing to keep him company but the dot... speck... rock that is drifting there, too, Claudius reflects on what brought him to this point: A spaceship, a dream of reaching the stars he always saw when he closed his eyes... and murder.
Eclipse is a Mobius-strip of a psychological horror thriller that takes the reader on a twisting, turning trip through Claudius' troubled childhood, his time at NASA, and a grimy hospital or prison, peeling back layer upon layer of the personality of a boy who could close his eyes and see the stars, a boy who dreamed of reaching those stars... and maybe he did.
Eclipse is available for purchase through Lulu.com for as little as $1.25 per download, or $11.50 by paperback. Coming soon to a bookstore near you, but why wait?
And, for a limited time, if you are one of the first 50 to purchase the book and send me a picture of yourself holding the book, I will mail you one of these fine t-shirts, free of charge.