Schifanelli Law, LLP
Contact US (410) 263-0028
A client came to us for help with a problem that we would never wish on anyone. He was a resident from an underdeveloped country who had entered the U.S. unlawfully some fifteen years before. Once here, he began working in landscaping and then construction. He kept out of trouble and had no criminal history. After several years he met his future wife. She was a U.S. citizen, and after the marriage they started a family and eventually had three children.
Tragedy struck when his wife was diagnosed with a highly volatile form of cancer. She had a short time to live, and her condition deteriorated rapidly. A true partner, he stuck by her - transporting her back and forth for treatment and caring for her while at home. He now provided all care for their children, and as the bread winner he still reported to work each day. Still here illegally, he worried every day what would happen if he were deported and unable to care for them.
Having come into the country illegally, he was ineligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident unless he first returned to his own country and applied at a U.S. consulate for a hardship waiver. If approved, he could then return to the U.S. legally. Unfortunately, leaving his ailing wife and his children behind was a non-starter, especially since the wait time outside the U.S. was between two to twelve months: they had no one who could care for them during such a long absence.
We knew that an Immigration Judge could grant him cancellation of removal pursuant to INA section 240A, if he could demonstrate that his wife and children would suffer "extreme and unusually exceptional hardship" if he were deported from the U.S. If he won, which we felt certain he could in these circumstances, then he would become a lawful permanent resident per the Immigration Judge's discretion.
However, he had to be in deportation proceedings first. So, after advising him that there were no guarantees that he would win his case, we contacted the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement officers and reported an "illegal alien." After no small effort getting ICE to actually place him in deportation and removal proceedings, we finally got him into immigration court. The U.S. Government attorneys, to their credit, did not contest the hardship standard. After a short hearing he was granted U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident status.
When people meet with us for the first time, they are often under great stress - continually thinking about their legal issues and the perceived consequences. Our mission at that first consultation is to help the client dissect the problem and frame the legal issues so that the client may more clearly understand the bigger picture. Then we make a plan.
Two people who had previously worked together on different real estate matters decided one day to pool their money together and buy a house. The intent was to fix it up and resell it for a profit that they would split. They drew up a very poorly written, yet sufficient, contract. Each contributed a sizeable amount of cash for the down payment, and the house was purchased. They got to work. However, the deed and mortgage documents were only in his (the Defendant's) name. But since she (the Plaintiff) had signed a written agreement, she felt her investments in time and money were secure.
After a lot of work, the house was renovated and put on the market. It sold for a profit, and then the problems began: the Defendant, who had attended the closing, deposited the money from the sale into his account and refused to pay the Plaintiff. She invoked the terms of the contract that they had both signed, but her partner produced a different contract with her signature on it. On that contract, any reference to splitting any proceeds was missing. He accused her of adding those terms to the contract and stated that he owed her nothing.
When she came to us she was visibly upset, with no idea what to do. We reviewed the documents that she had, and then we took over. First we filed a civil suit for breach of contract, civil fraud, and other causes of action against the Defendant. We then hired a process server to serve the complaint and summons on him. Upon being served, he lawyered up in defense.
Early in the process we started to investigate. While reviewing the case file at the courthouse, a partner attorney noticed several potential discrepancies in the signed documents. So, we hired forensic document analyst (i.e. "handwriting expert"), Robert W. Lesnevich. Lesnevich was able to confirm our suspicions that the Defendant had forged our client's signature on a second contract that deprived her of any of the profits from the house. The Defendant hired his own analyst to rebut ours.
Ultimately, a three-day jury trial ensued. Each side presented their evidence, including testimony from each side's document analysts. After deliberations, the jury came back unanimously ruling in our client's favor for a total award of over $100,000.
Contact Schifanelli Law, LLP at 410-263-0028 for an initial consultation with a Lawyer in Annapolis.
2450 Riva Road, Suite 201, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
Serving the Maryland and Washington D.C. Communities.