Skip to main content
Steven Michael Fahlgren

Steven Fahlgren’s Answers

251 total


  • What recourse do I have against my husband who libeled me in written statement to court in contesting divorce?

    He was served divorce petition & responded with a contesting statement that I filed fraudulently in my financial statement. I have proof he is wrong.

    Steven’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I agree with other commentators. Statements made in the course of litigation are usually not a basis for a defamation complaint but may be perjury subject to criminal prosecution if they can be proven false. This is an important case on the litigation privilege. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2007/sc05-564.pdf
    I wish you the best in the future. If this post was helpful, please mark it as such.

    See question 
  • False derogatory reporting by bank that held my heloc continues. How to stop and entitled to damages?

    In Dec, 6 months after heloc was paid, found 120 late pmts posted monthly to Equifax and Experian. Disputed, removed from both except Equifax changed to in collection. Disputed again, waiting results. Then found Jan 2014 reported 120 late to Expe...

    Steven’s Answer

    Your problem may have been caused when credit reporting agencies refuse to remove objectively inaccurate information from your credit report after being given a reasonable opportunity to reinvestigate the matter and correct it. I have experience in Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation. In fact, I have had a successful jury trial against Equifax http://fortheconsumer.com/in-the-news.htm I have also lectured to other attorneys regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act. There are certain things that usually should be done so as to give the credit reporting agencies a chance to fix things before successfully suing them. You may or may not have done everything necessary at this point.

    If you have not already disputed properly, you should consider disputing with the credit bureaus who claim you owe a debt. You should be as detailed as possible. Hopefully, that will take care of the problem. If the creditor or debt collector has already asked you for more information, you should provide that to them. If you do not, they will take the position in any litigation that you failed to mitigate your damages. Most judges and juries are going to expect you to use your best efforts to solve the problem. If after you dispute to the creditors, they continue to try to collect the debt by sending you dunning letters or by placing or leaving items on your credit report, then you probably have a claim under Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    If you dispute in writing and send the dispute via certified mail, your case would probably be one that an attorney would take on a contingency fee basis. In case you have not, I can provide a free instructional form for dispute letters as a convenience to you (in word format) but you will need to email me to request that document. If the credit bureau reporting your derogatory information has asked that you use a different address than the one I have on the letter, you should use that address.
    Please act quickly because there is a two year statute of limitations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, although there is an argument now that it can be longer if you did not learn of the violation for some time. Your failure to act quickly could result in a loss of valuable rights. There is only a one year statute of limitations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I cannot give you any advice as to when the statute of limitations starts running unless and until I am retained because sometimes it is not clear.
    Believe it or not, you should apply for credit if you would otherwise have applied for it but for the credit bureaus refusal to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. The credit bureaus try to discount damages if you have not actually applied for credit.

    If you have disputed already, it would be helpful for an attorney if you prepared a time line in chronological order showing each debt collector, creditor and credit bureau's actions and omissions showing, at a minimum, the dates of any dispute or request for validation, information disputed, the details and date/time of all communications with any debt collector, creditor or credit bureau relating to the alleged debt and any denials of requested credit that occurred as a result. If you do not owe the debt, any objective proof that it was fully paid or that you did not incur the debt would be helpful as well. You should also provide a chronological copy of the relevant documents including credit reports, dispute letters and any information you have relating to derogatory information on your credit reports for an attorney to review. A good timeline would have a breakdown for each credit bureau showing date of dispute, information disputed, which items were not reasonably investigated and which denials occurred as a result. This would help an attorney better evaluate your case.

    See question 
  • Bought a used car at dealership but changed my mind.

    Yesterday I signed all the paperwork to buy a car from a dealership, but after sleeping in it, I changed my mind. I have not taken possession of the car because there are some things they have to fix before I get it. They gave me a loaner car to u...

    Steven’s Answer

    Many consumers ask if there is an automatic right to cancel a contract to purchase a car within three days. The general answer is there is no three day right to cancel the transaction but, as always, there are exceptions. I'll give you some general guidelines. Consumers can rescind a contract if it was induced by fraud and the parties can be returned to the status quo. Consumers can revoke acceptance of a car if he or she received non-conforming goods, e.g., the consumer buys a 6 cylinder and later learns it is a 4 cylinder. Consumers would need to revoke acceptance in a reasonable time. Consumers can rescind a transaction if the sale involves a retail installment sale contract and the buyer has not taken delivery of the vehicle. Consumers can sometimes cancel a contract as part of a remedy if there is a breach of warranty and suit is brought under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Consumers can cancel some deals if they have not received a copy of the retail installment sale contract and have not taken delivery of the vehicle. Section 520.07(c) of the Florida Statutes provides that "[u]ntil the seller has delivered or mailed to the buyer a copy of the retail installment contract, a buyer who has not received delivery of the motor vehicle shall have the right to rescind the agreement and to receive a refund of all payments made and return of all goods traded in to the seller on account of or in contemplation of the contract or, if such goods cannot be returned, the value thereof." Consumers probably can void a usurious contract under some circumstances or one that calls for finance charges in excess of Section 520.08, but that is rare. The age issue (i.e., the buyer being a minor) or some other lack of capacity oftentimes makes a contract void or voidable. There are certain protections for home solicitation sales. A consumer who entered into a contract to purchase goods or services worth more than $25 is usually allowed to cancel the contract up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed if the act of signing took place at any place other than the seller's business location. For home improvements, a contract to repair, make a replacement to, remodel, alter, convert, modernize, improve, or add to any land or building used as a single-family dwelling or residence in which financing is involved, may be cancelled by certified or registered mail up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed. Of course, consumers should always review their specific facts with an attorney to ensure that an exception to the above statements does not apply. For some car buying tips, check out articles on my website: http://fortheconsumer.com/articles.htm If this answer is helpful, please mark it as so.

    See question 
  • I purchased a used car about two years ago from a dealer and I recently found out it was sold to me with frame damage,

    Is there anything I could do ? Sue the dealer ?

    Steven’s Answer

    According to the information you have provided, you have a problem with a car dealer; specifically, you may have purchased a vehicle without proper disclosure or in a situation where the prior use, condition, history or type of vehicle was misrepresented. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience defending and suing car dealers. Prior to forming my own practice in 2002, I represented several car dealers. Since forming my own practice, I represent consumers and no longer represent any car dealers. I have sued several car dealerships for selling a used vehicle without proper disclosure, including selling vehicles which has been wrecked previously. Oftentimes a dealer knows based on its own initial cursory inspection which makes them inquire further and determine there was frame damage. It is quite possible that you asked about the prior condition, use or history of the vehicle. If so, it would be important to know which representations were made. You have provided some basic information about your problem, but it would be helpful to review the contract documents.

    It sounds like you may have a claim for breach of contract, fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Just because something is sold "as is" does not give the seller a license to lie about the prior use, condition or history of the vehicle. There are certain disclosure laws that apply to car dealers selling cars to consumers versus a dealer selling someone a vehicle for commercial use.

    It would also be useful to read a detailed time line in chronological order reflecting the dates and the specific details of what happened. I really need to know what representations were made, when they were made, who was present, the details and date/time of all communications with the car dealer, any finance company or any repair shop relating to your potential matter. It is very important that you also provide a chronological copy of the relevant documents including but not limited to any advertisements that may pertain to your vehicle, any documents you obtained from the dealership, finance company or repair shop.

    It would also be helpful to determine if the car is unmerchantable, i.e., whether it would pass without objection in the trade under the contract description. In other words, how serious was the damage and the repairs. I know of another attorney who lost one of these cases in the last couple of years and the dealer sought over $100,000 in attorney's fees from the consumer, so it would be helpful to know more about the damage. How serious was the accident? Is the frame bent now? Were the repairs performed properly? Each of these answers will help determine how "material" the misrepresentation the dealer made as to the prior condition, use or history. Please let me know. We usually need to have an expert prepared to testify if the case is litigated. This can be costly so we need to know beforehand just what damages were involved and the extent the repairs were performed adequately or not.

    Ordinarily, you should not get the vehicle repaired or dispose of the vehicle unless and until it has been inspected by your expert and the other side has been given a significant opportunity to inspect the car as well. Otherwise, you may be subject to a defense that you spoiled the evidence.

    Again, based on the information you presented, you may have a case under Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act or another cause of action. Effective July 1, 2013, a law requires specific demand letters to car dealerships or you will lose valuable rights. It is usually advisable to retain an attorney before pursuing litigation. I wish you the best in the future.

    See question 
  • If I was a victim of identity theft, would I possibly be help responsible for the charges placed?

    I barely use my card, but this morning I got a alert saying that my card was charged $4.95. I called my bank who confirmed that it was used in a small town in TN, I'm not sure if I would still be charged. My bank advised me to cancel the card, whi...

    Steven’s Answer

    Whether you are held technically responsible is not the most important question because the damages to your credit reputation and the time to fix the problem will far exceed $4.95.

    I am sorry to hear of your troubles. As a previous victim of identity theft, I have some idea what you are going through at this time. I have also been involved in hundreds of hours of litigation with the credit bureaus and obtained a multimillion dollar jury verdict against Equiifax so I have considerable experience with this problem. See http://www.fortheconsumer.com/in-the-news.htm

    You should file a police report if you have not done so already. In my experience, I have not seen a high priority to prosecute identity thieves. If there is a prosecution, the court has authority to issue orders to correct public records. See Section 817.568(9)(b), Fla. Stat.

    You should review your credit reports ASAP. It would probably be a good idea to review your credit report prepared by Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis. You can get the first three so for free once a year by calling 877-322-8228. It is a lot simpler and quicker than jumping through all the hoops on the internet and you do not risk mistakenly agreeing to waive your right to a jury trial by arbitration. Please be sure to stay on the line until you have ordered all three reports. You can order your free copy of your Innovis report by calling 1-800-540-2505.

    If there are errors on your credit report, you should consider disputing with the credit bureaus who claim you owe a debt. You should be as detailed as possible. Hopefully, that will take care of the problem or at least help. Because you have advised that your case involves identity theft, you should file a police report and also complete a fraud affidavit from the FTC to submit to the credit bureaus along with your dispute. I strongly recommend that documents be sent to the credit bureaus rather than calling in your dispute or disputing online. In my experience, the credit bureaus take document disputes a little more seriously. If you do not dispute with the credit bureaus, it makes a case against the credit bureaus much more difficult. If you contact my office via email, I can provide a free instructional letter that helps you draft a dispute to the credit bureaus.

    You should request that the credit bureaus give you an EXTENDED fraud alert on your credit reports.

    If there are errors on your credit report, you should also dispute with the furnishers who claim you owe a debt. If you contact my office via email, I can provide a free debt validation letter. In your disputes, as set forth in my instructional letter, you should be as detailed as possible.

    If the credit bureau, creditor or debt collector writes back requesting more information, you should provide that to them even if it seems to be a stalling tactic or nonsense. If you do not, they will take the position in any litigation that you failed to mitigate your damages. Most judges and juries are going to expect you to use your best efforts to solve the problem.

    If after you dispute to the creditors and the credit bureaus, the debt collectors continue to try to collect the identity theft debt by sending you dunning letters or by placing or leaving items on your credit report, then you probably have a claim under Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    Please see below

    See question 
  • If I have been wronged, how do I go about having these negatives removed from my credit report?

    Back in October 2009, I rented an apartment and was late with my rent almost every month except maybe the first month. But I was late within ten days after the due date and always included my late fees. Then in April, I was probably late a few day...

    Steven’s Answer

    You may need a declaratory judgment action against the landlord to obtain objective proof you don't owe the debt and then dispute with the credit bureau. Otherwise, the credit bureau is not necessarily required to take your word over the landlord's word in conducting a reasonable reinvestigation. See Section 1681i of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    See question 
  • I think I need a civil attorney.

    I recently bought a used Audi tt. I brought it to a mechanic to check it out before I drove on it regularly. On the way to the mechanic the car over heated and turned off. I had it towed the rest of the way. My first question to the mechanic was "...

    Steven’s Answer

    According to the information you have provided, you have a problem with a vehicle repair. I disagree with the commentator who referred to a dealer surety bond as providing you with protection. Unfortunately, I believe surety bonds only cover claims arising out of Chapters 319 and 320 of the Florida Statute or a dealer's breach of contract in the SALE of an automobile. You have not given me enough facts to establish a breach of contract but it is possible you have such a claim. In any event, I have a lot of experience suing car dealers and others for vehicle repair problems. You have provided some basic information about your problem. I believe it is covered by the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act. Ordinarily, you can sue a repair shop if repairs were not performed in accordance with industry standards, but you would need an expert who can provide testimony as to that fact. Ordinarily, you should not get the car repaired unless and until it has been inspected by your expert and the other side has been given a significant opportunity to inspect the car as well. Otherwise, you may be subject to a defense that you spoiled the evidence. Please act quickly . Your failure to act quickly could result in a loss of valuable rights. There are deadlines and statutes of limitation that apply to your claims.

    See question 
  • Can i return the car?

    I took a car brand new car from a dealer after he told me he would give me a $1000 check in the mail if i get the car. They put it on paper that they owe me the money and i signed the contract. Within the few weeks i had to resign the contract bec...

    Steven’s Answer

    Did the last contract include a provision that you would get sent the check? If not, it will be more difficult to prove your case. Unscrupulous dealers will use documents to protect against fraud charges. It is important that you review your matter with counsel experienced in these types of matters. I wish you the best in the future.

    See question 
  • Can a car dealer cancel a contract because first appraisal of trade-in was wrong?

    I took my car to dealer on tow truck to have it fixed because it was not starting. The salesman pushed me to buy new car and took my car as trade-in. Five days later, the dealer wants to repossess new car because he says that mechanic has found fl...

    Steven’s Answer

    You should speak with attorney Raymond G. Ingalsbe
    201 Club Drive
    Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
    (561) 855-6059
    He is nearby and has been suing car dealers longer than anyone I know.

    See question 
  • Are Agencies governments, such as Florida Department of Education immune from being sued in civil court for not follow the laws?

    I have filed a case against Department of Educational local office, but they have not replied. I decided to file for Default judgment. I wonder if the reason they not reply is because they believe they are protected from lawsuits in court...

    Steven’s Answer

    The notice statute referred to by Mr. Rose is, I believe, Section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes. Sometimes you can file the notice after the suit but it may mean that your suit gets abated for a time. You really do need legal counsel. Abraham Lincoln is thought to have said that "a person who represents himself has a fool for an attorney." In any event, I wish you the best in the future.

    See question