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Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Debt Acknowledgment: Going Beyond Limitations

Anyone considering bringing a lawsuit needs to be aware of the relevant statute of limitations applicable to one’s case.  A statute of limitations establishes a hard deadline by which a particular suit must be brought, which, if missed, bars the potential plaintiff from bring it.

 

Generally speaking, in the context of a debt collection contract claim, the applicable statute of limitations sets a four (4) year deadline to bring suit after a breach of contract.  This limitations period is set by 42 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5525(a)(1).  A breach of contract occurs upon non-performance of a contractual duty, which, in this case, would be the non-payment of a debt.

 

Although the four-year statute of limitations identified above serves as a hard deadline in most debt collection cases, there is an important exception to this statute which serves to extend the time to bring suit and/or serve to toll the statute of limitations: the so-called “acknowledgement doctrine.”

 

Pennsylvania law has well established the acknowledgement doctrine.  The doctrine states that “[a] clear, distinct and unequivocal acknowledgement of a debt as an existing obligation, such as is consistent with a promise to pay, is sufficient to toll the statute.”  In Re David Cutler Industries, Ltd., 502 B.R. 58 (2013)

 

The acknowledgement doctrine in practice serves to restart the running of the applicable statute of limitations cited above, which would begin upon a reasonable elapse of time from the date of acknowledgement.

 

For example, if the statute of limitations for the failure to pay a debt is set to expire on August 1, 2015, a debtor’s acknowledging the debt on July 25, 2015 would serve to toll the statute of limitations and reset the hard deadline set by the statute to four years after a reasonable elapse of time from July 25, 2015.  A debt customarily must be paid within thirty days of when it comes due; therefore, the new statute of limitations in the example above would be four years from August 25, 2015.

 

When litigating a breach of contract claim, particularly a debt collection matter, and a statute of limitations deadline is approaching, or has passed, practitioners would be wise to explore the possibility of trying to have the debtor acknowledged the debt at some point.  Doing so could serve to save the viability of a case and go a long way to ensuring the debt owed is paid.

 

For more information on the issues addressed above, be sure to also review these cases: Colonial Assur. Co. v. Mercantile and General Reinsurance Co. Ltd., 297 F.Supp.2d 764 (2003); Huntingdon Fin. Corp. v. Newtown Artesian Water Co., 442 Pa.Super. 406 (1995); Camenisch v. Allen, 158 Pa.Super. 174 (1945); In Re Maniatakis’ Estate, 258 Pa. 11 (1917).

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer Blog on July 21, 2015 and can be seen here.

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Welcome Brian M. Doyle, Esquire!

I am happy to say that my law firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., has added Brian M. Doyle, Esquire to our ranks.  Brian brings a great education, youthful enthusiasm, and quality work ethic to the firm.  So far he has done a great job and fits in well, and we hope we can develop a long lasting professional relationship with him.  So, here’s to welcoming Brian!

Editing: Plot

Here is the latest post by Angela and Daz Croucher to their blog A.D. Croucher! They are up-and-coming young adult authors. Check them out!

A.D. Croucher

OK. Let’s recap. You wrote the first draft. You’ve given yourself a break and you’re ready to look at your work with fresh eyes. That original first draft is saved, hopefully in a few locations… you know, just in cases.

Jamie

Now it’s time to go through it and make sure you have the all-important plot.

Because the plot is your purpose for telling the story; it’s the glue that holds your masterpiece together.

Stories come to us in fits and bursts. Sometimes they flow, and other times they trickle, and often, the story you thought you were telling when you first started typing is a completely different tale by the time you’re done. Which means you have to go back and make sure that everything is cohesive.

Basically, you don’t want your work to be Rachel’s Thanksgiving dessert from Friends. Ground beef is fine, but not in a fruity dessert. Make…

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Billboard Magazine: Yes’ 35th Anniversary Special Edition

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and I have collected all of my Yes posts here.

In 2003, to celebrate Yes’ 35th Anniversary and accompanying tour for the same (see here), Billboard magazine issued a special edition focusing on Yes and its history.  I am not sure how many people were able to obtain a copy, much less keep one, so I have posted photographs of the pages from the magazine below for my readers to view.

As I am, obviously, an enormous fan of Yes, I managed to get my name into the pages of this edition of Billboard, which I have highlighted below.

Enjoy!

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Movie Review: Captain America: Civil war

I recently saw the movie Captain America: Civil War, and these are my thoughts about it (this review contains some spoilers).  It should be noted that I am a big fan of comic books, and Marvel Comics in particular, and have been so since I was at least five years old.  I am sure that fandom biases my review in some way.

By way of introduction for the uninitiated, Civil War is a movie based on Marvel comic books that falls at the beginning of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This movie is the thirteenth in the film series, which also includes three seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a television series), two seasons of Agent Carter (also a television series), Daredevil and Jessica Jones (Netflix series), and five Marvel One-Shot films.  Needless to say, this film is deeply entrenched in a clearly established, long running, and sprawling interconnected media universe.

I thought the prior Captain America film, called Winter Soldier was the best of the Marvel movies thus far, but I think Civil War is just as good, if not better still.  If the viewer is a comic book fan and/or Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, this movie hits all the right spots.  This movie is nearly top to bottom action and almost all of it is really well done.

When I first heard about the full cast in this movie, which more or less includes almost every major movie superhero thus far (Hulk, Thor, and a couple of others are noticeably absent), namely Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Agent Carter, Scarlett Witch, Vision, Falcon, War Machine, Ant-Man, Winter Soldier, Thunderbolt Ross, and Agent 13, as well as two new (for the franchise) superheros, Black Panther and Spider-Man, not to mention the villains (Crossbones and Baron Zemo), I got concerned that this film would fall prey to what afflicted Spider-Man 3 and the later Batman films in Burton series, which was way too many characters crammed into a film.  My concerns were unfounded.  Marvel has done an astonishing job juggling its characters over all of its films and, as a result, they have been able to include a boat load of characters in their films very successfully.  I think that is because, despite the long list of characters, they do not weigh the film down as there is no imminent need to flesh them all out in this film in particular as Marvel is confident future films will do the job.  Merely plugging them in where needed, and adding in those puzzle pieces for the purposes of advancing the story of this particular film suffices for the moment; they will be fleshed out elsewhere (or have been fleshed out elsewhere already).  This reflects the new reality of serialized film making and I like it.

As with the other Captain America films, this film relies just as much on the emotional relationships between the characters as it does the action sequences, which is refreshing because, although fans of these movies really look forward to the action, the character development is really what drives these movies, makes them interesting, and keeps them popular.  The relationship between Captain America and Iron Man is, obviously, a main focus of the film, but there is also the relationship between the Vision and Scarlett Witch (hints of a romantic relationship just like in the comics), Hawkeye and Black Widow, the Black Panther and his father and the Winter Solider, and Captain America and the Winter Soldier that are highlighted.

The dispute that arises – which causes all of these relationships to strain – centers on whether the Avengers – and other superhumans – need to register with the United Nations, as the world has determined them to be too powerful to be left unchecked.  Iron Man supports registration while Captain America supports affording the Avengers the freedom and liberty to act as they need and when they need.  While the world pursues registration and the Avengers debate its merits – due to the various disasters in which the Avengers were involved – Baron Zemo (who, in this iteration, is not a Nazi, but someone who lost his family due to the events in Avengers 2) simultaneously incites a conflict between the Avengers in the context of the registration by framing the Winter Soldier for the assassination of the Black Panther’s father and discovering how to trigger the Winter Soldier’s Hydra/Soviet mind programming.  Of course, the lines are dawn between the Avengers, which results in a conflict and a fantastic battle scene among them that is, at the end of the film, left fairly unresolved.  I like the idea that the conflict is not wrapped up in a tidy bow at the end of the film.  There are still a lot of issues to address in future films, which, in my mind, makes them even more interesting to anticipate.  There has been a lot of criticism leveled at this movie that no one of significance died or was killed, but I am not sure how significant that is in light of the fact that the characters are disunited, the relationships between all of the characters is strained, and the dispute of the film is unresolved in significant ways; these aspects give the story weight and significance (and death is not the only means to that end).  It is also worth noting that the fights were between friends, so it would not not be surprising that they pulled their punches in order to not significantly hurt one another; that may explain why no one died as a result of the battles.

In addition to a clear and compelling story with actual significance, this movie also featured the patented Marvel comic relief.  As much as I appreciate more “serious” comic book movies (like B v S), I always love how Marvel can work in some light moments.  This film is arguably the “darkest” of the Marvel movies, yet even in this film, the occasional humorous moment is appreciated and always well placed.

With the exception of the primary antagonists (Captain America and Iron Man), the standout characters, to me, were Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man.  I went into this movie expecting Black Panther to be just another character and, possibly, a little lame (I am not a big fan of his in the comics).  I can honestly say that I was completely wrong.  The Black Panther is one of the characters who drives the story and he, to put it simply, is just so cool.  His fight scenes were absolutely fantastic – my favorite of the film – especially his fights with the Winter Solider.  Those fight scenes were some of the best and expertly choreographed that I have ever seen.  The Panther’s fighting style is light and exciting, but his impact is heavy and quite serious.  His suit is not lame in the least (as I expected) and leaves some mystery as to how it works (it is vibranium).  Furthermore, his role is not merely as a superhero, but as the head-of-state for Wakanda (his superhero persona is the embodiment of Wakanda), so that makes his approach and perspective a lot more interesting than mere superhero.  Also, and refreshingly, he is a noble character who introduces the concept of forgiveness to the mix.

Spider-Man is my favorite comic character.  He only made a cameo appearance in this film, in order to introduce him for his upcoming solo film, but what he did do was, to turn a phrase, amazing.  I am so happy that it seems movie makers finally got Spidey right: a young, skinny, teen-aged boy, with a squeaky voice, little money, absolutely no idea what he is doing, and a constant flow of words which are generally pretty funny.  Spider-Man, appropriately and needless to say, was the source of a lot of humor in the movie.  Quite honestly, the movie did not need Spider-Man at all, and his scenes were clearly inserted a a way to introduce the character as opposed to advance the plot of Civil War.  In that way, I imagine one could criticize his insertion into the film as unnecessary, superfluous, and somewhat shameless in promoting another Marvel movie.  If I were not a Spider-Man fan – and did not absolutely love how he was presented in the film – that criticism may have had traction with me; however, as I love Spidey and what they did with him, I loved it.

The same goes largely goes for Ant-Man as it does for Spider-Man.  Now, Ant-Man was previously introduced in his own film, so Civil War did not serve quite the same purpose for Ant-Man as it did for Spider-Man.  In saying that, however, Ant-Man is a sort of minor character and the film did help push him into the greater story in a way his own film really was not able to do.  In addition, Ant-Man, in addition to Spidey, was another source of humor in the film.  It seems Paul Rudd (the actor playing Ant-Man) can’t help but be funny.  So, with Spider-Man on Iron Man’s “side,” Ant-Man was on Captain America’s “side” that side’s bug-themed superhero providing comic relief.  Without giving too much away, Ant-Man revealed a secret that made his presence a lot of fun and added another, and unexpected, element to the battle scene.

Finally, it is worth reiterating again that the fight scenes in this film were fantastic.  They are probably my favorite of the Marvel movies so far.  I think it helped that the battles were mainly between friends who really did not want to hurt each other, which allowed some humor (mainly via Spidey and Ant-Man) to get into the mix.

As a final word, allow me to say that I was a little jarred at the casting of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May.  Her role will obviously be fleshed out more in the upcoming Spider-Man film, but, as a purist, I was a little disappointed that Aunt May was not an older woman as she is in the comics.  In saying that, I guess it does not make much sense that a 15 year old’s mother’s sister is elderly, which probably explains the younger casting.  Also, I absolutely loved how, as a nod to the comics, the Falcon controlled a small bird-like drone.  His ability, in the comics, to communicate with a bird is, quite frankly, lame, so I am glad they made it cool in the movie.

In sum, I highly recommend this film.  It has a good plot, some fun humor, fantastic fight scenes, good characters, and a real impact on how the franchise will play out in the upcoming films.

BUONGIORNO FROM ITALY

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

I was fortunate enough to return to Italy in September 2014. One of the interesting experiences me and my companion Michael had was visiting with friends who we first met about five years ago. They live about 20 miles away from the hotel we always stay at when visiting Sorrento, Italy. We originally met the husband and wife when the couple was staying at the hotel for the man’s sister’s wedding. This was our third visit with them. The couple barely speak English, but they keep in touch with us, several times a year, sending holiday greetings via e mail. This time they brought the man’s mother, in addition to their two children. These people, who we have met three times treat us like family, and sometimes better than family. In fact, the hotel’s owner and the staff also treat us like family, and this is a large hotel with…

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Medical Examiner Need Not Wait To See If Religious Objection To Autopsy Is Made

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Rugova v. City of New York, (NY App. Div., Sept. 8, 2015), a New York intermediate appellate court held that the trier of fact should determine whether the Medical Examiner’s 36-hour delay in informing next of kin that an accident victim’s body was available amounted to interference with a family’s burial rights (right of sepulcher). However the court held that the Medical Examiner was not liable for conducting an autopsy after the accident even though that was inconsistent with the family’s Muslim religious beliefs. The court said in part:

As a matter of statute, the Medical Examiner has extensive authority to perform autopsies within the exercise of professional discretion … including where, as here, circumstances indicate that the death was accidental….

Pursuant to statute, compelling public necessity is only required where the Medical Examiner has received an objection on religious grounds from a surviving friend or relative or has reason to believe that an autopsy is contrary to the decedent’s religious beliefs…. While plaintiffs obviously could not make such objection, since they had not been informed of decedent’s death, it is submitted that the Medical Examiner’s office was not obligated to wait and see if an objection would be made before performing the autopsy….”

You can learn more about this issue here.

The Absolute Truth About Relativism

This is from edwardfeser.blogspot.com which you can find here.  This blog is written by Edward Feser who is a Christian philosopher who I have been recently introduced to who I think provides effective clear, sobering, and direct responses to the advance of secular culture.

Here is a portion of recent piece of his which I thought was rather edifying:

“I don’t write very often about relativism.  Part of the reason is that few if any of the critics I find myself engaging with — for example, fellow analytic philosophers of a secular or progressive bent, or scientifically inclined atheists — take relativism any more seriously than I do.  It just doesn’t come up.  Part of the reason is that many other people have more or less already said what needs to be said about the subject.  It’s been done to death.
It is also possible to overstate the prevalence of relativism outside the ranks of natural scientists, analytic philosophers, theists, and other self-consciously non-relativist thinkers.

As Michael Lynch notes in his book True to Life: Why Truth Matters, remarks that can superficially seem to be expressions of relativism might, on more careful consideration, turn out to have a different significance.  For example, when, during a conversation on some controversial subject, someone says something like “Well, it’s a matter of opinion” or “Who’s to say?”, this may not be intended to imply that there is no objective fact of the matter about which view is correct.  The person may instead have simply decided that the discussion has reached an uncomfortable impasse and would like to change the subject.

On the other hand, many people seem not to understand the difference between the claim that there is no agreement about such-and-such and the claim that there is no objective truth of the matter about such-and-such.  Hence even many people who are primarily concerned to assert the first proposition rather than the second may nevertheless affirm the second one too if pressed.  And in that case they are at least implicitly relativists.  Thus, while Lynch is right that there are probably fewer self-conscious relativists than meets the eye, that is not necessarily because the people in question are all self-consciously non-relativist.  Many people just have confused or inchoate ideas about these things.”

You can read the rest here.

NEARFest 2002 Event Program

This post is in my series regarding the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest).  You can find all of my posts regarding NEARFest here and I started the series here.

At each NEARFest, the Festival organizers created a weekend event program.  I was lucky enough to have purchased one from all of the Festivals I attended, and I will post photographs of them all here.  These programs were expertly crafted with many beautiful photographs and well written descriptions and histories and such.  Of course, they also contain their fair share of ads, as one may expect.  I got most (maybe all) of the programs I purchased at NEARFest over the years autographed by the artist who drew its cover and, in this case, that was Yes and Asia cover artist Roger Dean.

I was able to purchase a program at NEARFest 2002 and I thought it would be fun to post it here for prog rock fans who may not have had the opportunity to go to the Festival and/or purchase the program.  Accordingly, I took photographs of each page of the program and posted them below.

I also posted a review of NEARFest 2002 which you can see here.  The review contains many photographs from the event.

Enjoy!

 

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The Philadelphia Parking Authority, Street Justice, and a Land Yacht

I have had a fairly minor neighborhood dispute that, I think, is worth sharing here.

Back in September 2015, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia.  Around that time a motorhome appeared at the corner of my street.  I assumed that it was there to accommodate a pilgrim to see the pope.  I did not think much of it aside form the fact that the motorhome was over three car lengths long and called a “Land Yacht” – which, judging by its size – was more of an accurate descriptor than just a catchy euphemism.

Now, it is worth noting that Philadelphia City Ordinance does not permit motorhomes to be parked on a city street for more than thirty days at a time (see here).

A few months went by and I noticed that the Land Yacht remained parked on the street.  I was, quite honestly, annoyed, but it did not go much further than that.  On average, I only passed it once per week, so it went out of my mind a lot, but, as the weeks went by, I would take note of its presence time and time again, and the fact that it started to look like an eye sore sitting on the street indefinitely started to grate on me.

In March 2016 my uncle came to my house and complained that he could not find a parking space.  Now, parking is at a premium in my neighborhood on a good day, but a perpetually parked motorhome that exceeds three cars in length eats up a lot of potential parking spaces!  My uncle’s plight in finding a parking spot was the last straw for me.

I could not discern the motorhome’s owner, however I did note that its stickers were up-to-date, although it did have Florida tags.  I also noted that one side of the street had a sign which read “No Truck Parking” while the sign which hung on the other side was gone.  Once I collected information from the motorhome, I called the police (specifically the 8th precinct), the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), and Philly311.  I also tried to recruit my neighbors to do the same, but I do not know if they did.  I received different responses from each person I called and not a whole lot of cooperation.

When I called Philly311, they were pleasant and took my information and promised a response within about thirty days.  They insisted that they would have to treat the motorhome as “abandoned,” but I am not sure why because, as I tried to explain to them, the motorhome did not appear abandoned, but is parked in violation of City Ordinance.  The person I spoke to was unfamiliar with the ordinance and continued treating the matter as an abandoned car matter.  When I was asked where the motorhome was, the 311 person required an address.  I gave a street crossing as the motorhome was really not parked in front of a house.  Strangely, the street crossing was insufficient for 311 – which is weird because street crossings are a standard way to identify a location in a city – and I had to spend 5 or 10 minutes google mapping the area to get an address.

I called the police who, like Philly311, were totally unfamiliar with the City Ordinance cited above.  The officer I spoke with asked if the motorhome was illegally parked.  As the officer was also unfamiliar with the ordinance, he did not think it was illegally parked, so he, too, pursued an abandoned car angle as well.

The PPA was easily the worst of the three.  The people I spoke with when I called the police and 311 were pleasant, listened, and promised to do something (although what they were going to do was unclear).  Each time I called the PPA, the person who answered the telephone was rude and seemed annoyed at the fact that someone called.  They, needless to say, had absolutely no idea what the City Ordinance had to say.  I tried to explain how the motorhome was taking up a lot of parking spaces illegally, but the explanation really did not go anywhere.  The PPA was uninterested in looking into the matter.  Furthermore, when asked where the motorhome was – in a neighborhood in the Greater North East – the PPA told me that it does not enforce “all the way up there.”  Now, mind you, the Greater North East is part of the City of Philadelphia, so I see no legitimate reason why the Philadelphia Parking Authority would not enforce in all parts of the City.  The only reasons I can think of for a lack of enforcement in the Greater North East is because the revenue in Center City is much greater (so it assigns more people there and too few elsewhere), and my neighborhood is filled with police, firemen, and other city employees and the PPA does not want to ticket them.  Finally, when I complained a little louder, the woman I spoke with told me that “times are changing” and the PPA cannot tow all the cars it needs to tow, so I should get my own tow truck and simply tow the motorhome myself.  When I told her that I am just an average and ordinary citizen and not empowered to, basically, steal and/or damage someone else’s property by towing it myself, she insisted that I could as things “are changing.”  Thankfully I did not act on her advice.

Each place I called asked what the motorhome looks like.  Obviously, that question is completely expected and normal.  What is not normal is the precision they required – colors, plate numbers, and such.  The motorhome is enormous and the only one on the block and when one goes on the street, it is pretty obvious which vehicle is the motorhome.  Annoyingly, this was insufficient for their purposes.  I imagine all three were filling out a government form and did not know, how to think, quite literally, outside the boxes on the form they were using.

Philly311 told me it needed a thirty day turnaround time.  So, I did not call them back after I provided my report.  I called the PPA every three days.  I called the police twice per week.  In fact, as I had a dentist appointment during this time – and my dentist is across the street from the police station – I made a pop in on them too.  Whenever I called either the PPA or the police, the person I spoke to had almost no information for me.  When I popped in, however, the police officer I spoke with was familiar with the matter and insisted it was in process.  It was about this time I noticed the “No Truck Parking” sign looked to have been removed.  So, armed with that information, I called PPA again, and reported an illegally parked car (illegally per parking signs this time and not an Ordinance with which no one was familiar).  The person I spoke to took down my information without argument, and said the PPA would look into it.  About this time, the motorhome’s tags changed from Florida to Pennsylvania.  Coincidence?  Doubtful.

So, a month later I suddenly get a picture-text-message from my wife of the street.  Land Yacht free!  No fanfare.  No warning.  Suddenly, as quickly as it arrived, it disappeared.  No one called me to tell me it happened.  I never saw police or PPA in my neighborhood casing the streets or the motorhome.  Nothing.  One day there and the next day gone.  All it took was collecting a lot of information, and being a thorn in the side of three government agencies (police, 311, and PPA).  I have no idea which agency made it happen or when it actually happened.  I just know it did.  It “only” took about five weeks of effort to make it happen!

This whole process just highlights how difficult it is to get something very minor accomplished in the City, as so many of its employees are some combination of disinterested, lazy, rude, and/or ignorant.  The responses I received from the PPA were just shocking.  The police and 311 were, at least, nice and tried to accommodate.  The PPA was just rude, and telling me that they do not enforce in my neighborhood is ridiculous, and telling me that I should tow it myself was just beyond the pale.  The PPA should be ashamed, but, of course, it seems proud of itself.  So much so that television shows are made about it (see here).

So, I guess the moral of this story is this: if you have a problem in the City, call as many agencies as possible, wade through their collective ignorance, rudeness, laziness, stupidity, and/or inflexibility, and be annoyingly persistent to ensure that they actually do what they are supposed to do and/or indicate they will do.  Making sure that they know you will not go away goes a long way.  The squeaky wheel got its oil and the Land Yacht has shoved off for other, hopefully more appropriate, waters.

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