The Client came to Legal Services of Northern Virginia for assistance with a payroll garnishment by his former landlord. Attempts made to stop the garnishment using a homestead deed were unsuccessful because the Client had waived his homestead exemption in the lease. LSNV assisted the client in pulling his credit report and discovered several other unsecured debts, including a judgment in Arlington Circuit Court for a $1.2 million defamation case filed in 2008. LSNV filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on the Client’s behalf, successfully argued that waivers of homestead deeds in a lease are not valid under the Bankruptcy Code, and got over $4000 in garnished funds returned to client.
But that’s not all. During the bankruptcy case, the proponent of the defamation case brought an Adversary Proceeding in the bankruptcy claiming that the 2008 judgment (which, with interest, had ballooned to $1.7 million) should not be discharged in the bankruptcy because the Client had intentionally caused him harm. LSNV attorneys investigated the 2008 lawsuit and determined that the Client was never properly served or put on notice of that lawsuit, leading to the entry of a default judgment. LSNV attorneys extensively interviewed the client on the facts and circumstances leading up to the lawsuit and determined that the original lawsuit had no merit.
Coincidentally, the bankruptcy adversary proceeding was also never properly served on the Client. The LSNV bankruptcy attorney made a limited appearance at the Pretrial Conference before the Bankruptcy Court, advising the Court of the improper service of process in both cases and asking that the adversary proceeding be dismissed. The bankruptcy court agreed that service of the adversary proceeding was improper and dismissed the adversary proceeding, thereby permanently discharging the $1.7 million judgment.
Sometimes LSNV is able to help a client by making one phone call, and sometimes our clients have problems that take quite a bit more time to resolve. Recently, Managing Attorney of the Fairfax Office, Meghan Zimman, shared how she was able to help a client avoid foreclosure, a process that took almost two years.
“The client first came to LSNV in November 2013 for assistance with her mortgage. She had fallen behind on her payments due to a disability and an increase in her cost of living. The client owns an Affordable Dwelling Unit in Loudoun County. We assisted her to apply for a modification of her mortgage that she had already been denied. We worked tirelessly to obtain an approval on a modification. Finally, after almost two years of work, we received final modification papers. Through the FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP), our client’s interest rate and term were modified to bring her current and make her payments more affordable. Her new payment is $460.00 less than her previous payment. The client is very happy to avoid foreclosure on her home and will be able to maintain the new payments without a problem.”
Kudos to Meghan, her work is a great example of how LSNV provides access to justice.
An LSNV staff attorney was representing a client in court because the landlord was suing the client for nonpayment of rent for a basement apartment the client and his family were renting. The LSNV attorney did some research and discovered that the basement unit violated zoning restrictions and that this landlord had previously been cited 6 times for the very same thing over the past five years.
The LSNV attorney counterclaimed against the landlord for fraud and a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The LSNV attorney was able to settle the case so that the client did not owe the landlord any additional rent money, but rather the LSNV attorney was able to get the client $1,000 from the landlord! With our assistance the client and her family were able to stay in their home and avoid homelessness.
The client was homeless and was suffering from atrial fibrillation and was taken to the hospital for treatment. After hospitalization, he was transferred to a nursing home in order to receive skilled nursing care. He was approved for Medicaid Long Term Care, but then received a notice stating they had approved him in error. The nursing home was no longer being paid so they threatened to discharge the client due to non-payment. They issued a notice of discharge threatening to release him to a homeless shelter.
LSNV appealed the nursing home discharge with the Department of Medical Assistance Services. Additionally, LSNV coordinated with the county ombudsman and the Medicaid social worker and was able to successfully reinstate the client’s Medicaid Long Term Care. The nursing home rescinded the discharge notice and LSNV’s client continues to receive care at the nursing home.
A client came to LSNV for assistance on a post-foreclosure eviction matter. The client has two children that she cares for, and brings in little income to support her family. Her husband moved to Bangladesh to look for work, and the family could not afford the mortgage on just the client’s income. LSNV attorneys were successful in negotiating an arrangement that would allow the client to stay another five weeks in the home and to receive $3,250 in a cash for keys agreement. The client moved out per the agreement and received the cash to cover her moving expenses. She and her children are currently renting an affordable apartment.