I was retained by a local accounting firm whom I shall refer to as “Christian Wolf”, who rendered forensic accounting services over the course of over a decade, to a multi-million dollar securities company, which I will refer to as “Living Robotics”, to the tune of $62,000.00. Living Robotics paid $20,000, but left the balance remaining. So, Wolf retained me to sue.
We reached out to Living Robotics LLC, who shockingly ignored letters and calls. As such, we filed suit. Upon service of process, we received a call from Blackburn, the CEO of Living Robotics. Blackburn told us that Living Robotics was going out of business, and offered $1000 to settle. We rejected it, and proceeded with judgment.
We entered a default judgment, and began enforcement. Subpoenas were ignored. We found some bank accounts, but nothing with more than a few dollars in them. Phone numbers went to private mobile numbers, where the voice mail boxes were full. The website was disabled. It appeared as if they were out of business.
But we decided to wait a few months, and try again, with another search, just in case. Lo and behold, we could not find Living Robotics LLC, anywhere. But we did indeed find another entity named “Living Robotics, LLC”. (Yes, the only change, was the comma!) Operating across the street, with the same phone number. We did even more digging, and found that the old address was the home of “LR Consulting LLC” as well as “Living Enterprises, LLC”. In addition, “Living Robotics 1, LLC” was also created. And of course, all of these entities were owned by Blackburn.
As such, we sent some more subpoenas out under the old name, “Living Robotics LLC” (no comma). We found a bank account with an excess of $25,000 in it. As such, we sent a restraint.
Two days later, we received a call from Ed Chilton, who claimed to be the owner of “Living Robotics”. Notably, he used no corporate designation. He started to argue that he did not know anything about the judgment, threw some expletives our way, and threatened to sue us under, you guessed it, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. After we demonstrated to him that consumer protection statutes has no bearing on this case, he calmed down, and pleaded with us to release the account: “Those funds belong to our client. You are going to put us out of business!”
My response, “Then maybe you should have put the funds in a trust account.” But of course, the funds were co-mingled, and Chilton was unwilling to demonstrate to use that the funds were held entirely in trust. We asked Chilton is he wanted to make a deal, and he returned to his spewing of vinegar and urine. As such, we terminated the call, content that we would be shortly executing on the $25,000.
The next day, we received a facsimile from the bank that the balance in the account was wrong. They reported an incorrect number. Apparently, in the last 24 hours, another $10,000 was deposited in the account.
We then get a call from Dan Cummings, from Living Robotics (again, no corporate designation). Cummings argued that we should release the account, and vacate the judgment voluntarily, because “We have paid your client over a million dollars in the last 12 years!”
I paused, and responded, “So you think that you can unilaterally create a discount?”
Cummings said nothing for about twenty seconds, and said “That’s… not… well… I mean… Customer loyalty?”
“Loyalty would have been trying to enter into a payment arrangement, prior to suit.”
Cummings had no come back to that, and instead said, “I am going to have to speak to the boss and get back to you.”
I decided to give him a little push, and test the waters. “Tell Mr. Blackburn that I said hello, and look forward to speaking to him.”
An hour later, Blackburn called me, with Cummings and Chilton, all on a conference call. After a good ten minutes of them spewing expletives at me, I told them that I would terminate the call, and wished them a good day. I hung up the phone.
I then received a call from an attorney, Mr. Silverberg. Silverberg told me that I was obligated to release the account, because the judgment was against “Living Robotics LLC”, and not “Living Robotics, LLC”. I pointed out to him that the account that was held was in the name of No Comma. He was stunned. “I guess my client put the funds in the wrong account.”
He then proceeded to ask me to release the account as a “professional courtesy.” He said, “You are going to cut off any chance of settlement discussion if you don’t release the account.”
My response? “Then we’re in no worse a position than we were yesterday.”
The next morning, I get an email from Silverberg, offering $30,000.00 to settle the case. I called the client, who wanted me to get more. So I countered, and we ended up settling the case for $35,000.00.
Timothy Wan is the Senior Partner of the firm Smith Carroad Levy Wan & Parikh, in Commack, New York, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim does enjoy a good Ben Affleck movie, but not with Bat-nipples.