Gather round boys and girls, ladies and gents . . . for it’s All Hallows’ Eve ~ a time for sharing eerie stories of the terrible plights that can befall business owners who don’t have a trustworthy law firm to fend off threats, predators, goblins, and things that go bump in the night!
Here’s our first ghoulish tale:
Tale #1: The Dark & Stormy Night
It was a dark and stormy night. A Landlord was sitting at home in front of a fire, watching the Cowboys play. He’s tense as his team attempts to score one last touchdown with just 20 seconds on the clock. Then…..RING RING RING. Landlord jumps! He answers the phone. One of his tenants has called to tell him that she has fallen down the stairs at the apartment complex because the lights were out and she couldn’t see in the dark, stormy night.
“The lights are out? How could this be?” the Landlord thinks to himself. He closed on this apartment complex just last week and the Seller had agreed to replace and repair all outside lights at the complex just before closing. Landlord drives to the apartments to check on his tenant and see what’s wrong with the lights.
When he arrives at the property, the property is pitch black and the rain has stopped. Following the rain, a heavy fog lays over the property. Landlord hears deep moaning sounds. It gives him goosebumps. He walks to the stairs where Tenant has supposedly fallen and sees her laying at the bottom of the stairs, crying and moaning in pain. He rushes over to her. Tenant has broken her leg and blames her pain on having a new landlord.
“I will sue you!” Tenant shouts at Landlord.
“It isn’t my fault!” Landlord says. “The company I bought the complex from was supposed to fix the lights before we closed last week!”
Landlord calls 911, and waits with the Tenant for the ambulance to arrive. He makes sure she is safely in the ambulance and headed to the hospital before he calls his contact at the company he bought the apartment complex from.
It’s late, but luckily his contact picks up the phone. He blurts out what has happened to his contact and asks why the lights weren’t fixed. “Why aren’t they working?” Landlord yells at his contact.
Silence on the other end.
And then, an evil, high pitched laugh comes through the phone. It’s so loud, Landlord has to hold the phone away from his ear.
“Oooh yeeah,” the contact says. “We meant to get around to that and forgot. Oh well! Glad she fell after we sold it. It’s your problem now!”
That’s it. The contact is gone.
“What does he mean ‘it’s your problem now?’” Landlord thinks. “They agreed to fix the lights! It’s definitely their problem!”
Landlord didn’t use a real estate attorney to work out the purchase of the apartment complex, so he tries calling his broker.
Landlord tells Broker what happened, but unfortunately Broker doesn’t know what is supposed to happen in this situation.
Bewildered, Landlord returns home to find his wife waiting up for him.
“The Cowboys lost,” she said, “but what happened at the apartment?”
This was not turning out to be a very good night for Landlord. He explains the situation to his wife, and she advises him to call an attorney.
The next morning, it’s still storming. Landlord finds an attorney online, calls the law firm, sends his offer and acceptance letter to the attorney to review.
A few hours later, he gets a call from the attorney.
“Unfortunately, sir,” the attorney says, “this offer and acceptance letter does not mention that Seller was to fix the lights before closing. It also doesn’t have an indemnity clause where Seller agrees to indemnify you if Seller’s failure to have the lights fixed leads to any injuries or damages on the property. You bought the property as is, and therefore, you accepted the property with broken lights.”
Lighting strikes and thunder claps.
“I don’t understand,” Landlord says. “Are you saying that Tenant can sue me, and I have no cause of action against the seller?”
“Yes, sir,” the attorney says. “However, we would be happy to represent you against your Tenant. I believe you have a good case for not being aware of the needed repair. We will need a $20,000 retainer, and you should also consider getting those lights fixed.”
Landlord was dumbfounded. $20,000? Pay to have the lights fixed himself? This was not how this was supposed to go. Landlord told the attorney he needed to think about it, but would get back with him.
When he got off the phone, Landlord told his wife what the attorney told him and how much money he was going to have to spend.
At that moment, Landlord knew she was right. He also knew he was about to spend a bunch of money that BWLT could have saved him.
Tale #2: Frightening Full Moon Failure
It was a freezing night, and the moon was full. Business Owner was at her craft table making new jewelry to prepare for a busy holiday season. She had the news playing in the background. Something caught her eye. Her jewelry was on the news.
“How exciting!” Business Owner thought. “I need to call my bead supplier. This news story is going to send my sales through the roof!”
Then Business Owner turned up the volume to hear the news story. Uh oh. A woman’s baby had choked on a bead from her necklace!
A few weeks later, Business Owner was served with citation that the woman has filed a lawsuit against Business Owner. Listed as defendants are Business Owner individually and Beauty Beads, LLC.
Beauty Beads, LLC? Her bead supplier has been sued as well!
Business Owner immediately called an attorney she knew. The attorney gave her terrible news.
Since she was operating her jewelry business as a sole proprietor, everything she owned was at risk.
“But my bead supplier was named too!” Business Owner said to the attorney. “So everything she owns will also be at risk? That’s terrible!”
“Actually, no” the attorney said. “Your bead supplier was operating as an LLC so only what Beauty Beads, LLC owns is at risk. Unfortunately, you didn’t form any type of limited liability entity to protect your personal assets.”
“What?” Business Owner asked. “Well I thought that would be very expensive and not worth it since I’m just running a small business.”
“Actually,” the attorney said, “most likely, it wouldn’t have been very expensive, and all business types and sizes can benefit from forming a separate limited liability entity. If you want to form a limited liability business entity, give my friends at Bennett, Weston, LaJone, & Turner P.C. a call. They would be happy to help you get that set up.”