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…
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.
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…
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.
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’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…”
I have this discussion once in a while when folks say I’m too hard on lawyers.
Look, I’ve known some great lawyers – who fit the design of folks who fight to defend the rights of ordinary citizens. Spent some great times with Bill Kuntsler and Ted Koskoff. Ted had a rule of thumb that a third of the cases he took on would end up being unpaid – for folks who could never afford the head of the National Trials Lawyers Association; but, needed a great lawyer to help them battle some sleazy corporation or rightwing police department. They were kind of folks who accepted the Bill of Rights as the mantra for their career in law.
And then there are grasping, greedy and unprincipled types who don’t care whether or not they give their clients timely service at honest rates. Which kind do you think represents the majority?
You don’t even have to count in the lawyers in Congress.