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Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

6,721 total


  • Looking to absolve parents of student private loan responsibility

    I have a private student loan with a co-signer. I have already looked into filing Chapter 13 and may still do so, however, when both myself and my co signer were served, Neither summons contained a copy of the original promissory not. The cosigner...

    Matthew’s Answer

    There are 3 ways you can absolve the cosigner: (1) pay off the loan...that always works; (2] settle the debt and make sure the co signor is named in the settlement, (3) get the loans back in good standing (impossible to do if you are being sued), make on time payments for 1 to years, get your credit score up and apply to become solely responsible. However, I have never seen option 3 accepted if the loans have ever been in default which is clearly the case.

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  • I drive a truck and I drive on a private ranch with security guards. Can a security guard issue a ticket and collect revenue.

    This security officer claimed I was speeding in a posted 20 mhp zone. He showed me a radar reading that he claimed was mine. Problem is he was sitting still and the radar showed him going 24 mph. When I pointed it out he said it didn't matter. All...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Can they issue tickets, sure. Can they legally collect them...not so sure (but maybe). More context and information is needed. I grant you, it seems odd; but in theory, the situation is no different than a private parking lot issuing tickets to those who didn't pay or whose ticket expired, and that is perfectly legal.

    The issue is a civil issue and as with most legal issues, the facts matter (e.g. what is this ranch, why were you there, was there some notice of the speed limit, etc.).

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  • Question about retaining a lawyer. My lawyer withdrew from my case a few months ago. I have trying to find other counsel.

    It has been a hard road finding legal counsel to jump on board my 2 year old case because my previous law firm did not do the right thing and retain security experts, and do depositions and such the defense. I have been getting email after email f...

    Matthew’s Answer

    What is your question? Yes, the firm can put conditions on representation like, "client needs to pay costs out of pocket and require a $5,000 deposit to do so." There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and is common. I don't mean this in a harsh way, but you may have some sob story as to why you are in the position you are in, but that doesn't change the financial realities of litigation. Litigation costs money, and ultimately, it is the client's responsibility to bear those costs if they want their day in court.

    Maybe you have a cause of action against your prior firm, but then again, malpractice cases take money to pursue.

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  • Can a Lawyer Condition Settlement on their Consent? Washington D.C.

    Ex. Client agrees not to settle case without Lawyer's participation and consent. This is a clause in a contingency retainer.

    Matthew’s Answer

    That clause is typical and legal. The idea is that you have hired the attorney to handle the case. The clause is in the agreement for you to agree to not go behind his back and settle the case on your own. If you think about it, it makes sense. It is not so much that the attorney has to consent to a "particular" settlement. For example, if the insurance company offers $10,000 and the attorney (as he is required to do) communicates the offer to you, but the attorney says that it is a bad offer and you should not accept it...you CAN still accept that offer, the decision to settle always remains with the client. What the clause is designed to prohibit is you negotiating behind the attorneys back and cutting the attorney out of the loop. (note, the attorney would still be entitled to compensation if you did that).

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  • Is it possible to vacate a bankruptcy in MA?

    In 2009 I was about to get foreclosed on, I hired a bankruptcy atty. upon his orders I initiated a bankruptcy filing. He never got the rest of the filing done in time so the case was dismissed and I lost my house. I'm fine with that, but the bankr...

    Matthew’s Answer

    No, once you file, that's it. The BK was 6 years ago, it isn't meaningfully impacting your credit anymore. If the case was a chapter 7, the BK will fall off in 4 years, if the case was a chapter 13, it will fall off in 1 year.

    Here is my AVVO guide and rebuilding credit after bankruptcy.
    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/rebuilding-credit-after-bankruptcy-3-essential-easy-steps

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  • Quonset hut, would this be considered exempt in a bankruptcy in the state of CA?

    My husband owns and lives in a Quonset hut, we are doing a chap 7, jointly. We don't owe any money on it, we pay property tax on it. Is there anyway that we have a chance on keeping it, it's our only asset that we really have? We already had the c...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Asset issues are all analyzed the same way. The starting point is (1) value. How much is the property worth, (2) what is the net equity (deduct any perfected mortgages and liens), (3) determine what exemption applies. Richard gave you a great answer and I agree. What I would add is that I bet the trustee will question and probably want documentation to show that your husband "really" resides in the Quonset hut. To use the homestead exemption, the debtor, in good faith, has to use the property as his primary residence. If the property (the land) is worth something, I bet the trustee pushes back a little and husband will need to explain and prove that he resides in the hut as a permanent residence. (e.g. does he receive mail there, does his drivers license reflect that address, are there utility bills and do they show usage such that someone resides in the location...things like that,).

    As an aside, I had an issue similar to this in an election law context (not bankruptcy), but the issue is similar. The candidate was saying he resided in X district (so he could run in X district), but that residence was a 200 square foot rustic cabin. At the same time, the candidate owed a 5000 square foot house in a gated community in district Y. The candidate was running for office in district X (where the cabin was located). We sued and held a hearing to get him off the ballot, and we won because the court just didn't buy that he lived full time in a cabin.

    Just be prepared to show that your husband really does live in the hut as a primary residence.

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  • I do swimming pool services in Orlando fl and what shoud i do to place a mechanical lien on a client s who haven t been paying

    I do weekly services on the customer house and charge a flat fee per month

    Matthew’s Answer

    What sort of services do you provide? I don't know that you qualify to place a mechanic's lien. A FL attorney needs to chime in and I will defer to their answer, but in general, "maintance" work does not qualify for mechanic's liens. To get a mechanic's lien, the work or materials must "permanently" improve the property. If you are part of the swimming pool installation process; okay, you can probably get a mechanic's lien. If you are installing new equipment (e.g. heater, pumps, etc), you can probably get a mechanic's lien. But, if you are only doing regular pool maintance (cleaning, changing filters, chemicals, etc), you would not be entitled to a mechanics lien.

    Here is an article that seems pretty good about FL mech. liens.
    http://www.zlien.com/articles/five-things-to-know-about-floridas-mechanic-lien-laws/

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  • So I can't fill out the fee waiver application when I refile my bankruptcy?

    So I filed my bankruptcy and instead of sending my paystubs with the paperwork I sent it to the trustee. I was unaware until it was to late and my case was dismissed. Now the dismissal paper says that the fee is due at time of refiling, that means...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Let's back up...at least go consult with a bankruptcy attorney or two, the consultations are typically free. Bankruptcy is a tool. Make sure you are using the right tool for the job (for the goal you are trying to accomplish). If you need to refile "quickly," that indicates that something urgent is happening, but you may be misunderstanding whether BK is the right tool to help you with the situation. At least meet with an attorney, and you will probably find that having an attorney is not as expensive as you assume and you can have the case done right the second time around.

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  • Does my wife have a case?

    My wife, a teacher, was approached by her supervising administrator (Dean of Students) while at work. He told her about a sexual dream he had about her. After that he began to text her sexual and graphic messages and fantasies he had. She particip...

    Matthew’s Answer

    You need to sit down with an "employment law" attorney. I am changing the practice area designation from education to employment.

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