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District Judge ruled in favor of Defendants because I didn't have an expert witness. Should I appeal?

Pottsville, PA |

Today I was in District Court in Bucks County suing a business for not providing services after an amicable resolution could not be reached. The Judge ruled in the Defendants favor as I didn't have an expert witness present to testify that I didn't receive the services in accordance with the company's satisfaction guarantee and without considering ALL of the written documentation I had from the Defendants offering a full refund if I had specific tests done which I had complies with and the documented results came out in my favor. Amount of refund sought is $2,500.

What is my best recourse; appeal or take the loss? Can someone here assist me? I'm a young, 100% certified disabled vet who is in the middle of purchasing a home and don't have extra money to spend at the moment on legal help.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Absolutely no way to help you without knowing everything about your case--including the type of court you were in and an understanding of the issues occurring at trial..

FWIW, If you don't have the funds to hire an attorney (because your tied up purchasing a house) I guess you'll have to let the matter drop. Not sure what being a "certified" disabled vet has to do with the matter.......

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

Asker

Posted

Mr. Rafter, Thank you for the reply to my question. I was in Magisterial District Court today in Pennsylvania. As far as the mentioning of being a 100% "certified" disabled vet, I wasn't sure if perhaps there is pro bono, contingent, or discounted legal services that may be willing to assist. I'm learning that criminals have lawyers appointed, however someone who served their country honorably must continue to fight and pay for everything, including the legal representation the criminals get from taxpayer dollars. I understand that my case is mere chump-change to a lawyer, but to me, it means the difference between paying utilities and eating or going hungry in the dark. That's the thanks we get for serving. God Bless America!

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

Ahh. Well, you might try contacting the DAV and see if any local members who are or know attorneys willing to assist in your case. Or use the avvo 'find a lawyer' tab to locate a military attorney near you. FWIW, IMHO the American people do not owe you (or me) anything for our having served. I wish you all the best and good luck with that new home.

Asker

Posted

"FWIW, IMHO the American people do not owe you (or me) anything for our having served." ~ Rixon Charles Rafter III, Fairfax Litigation Lawyer Ouch. Allow me to refresh your memory, briefly, on what Abraham Lincoln pledged to America's Civil War veterans during his Second Inaugural Address in 1865: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan." Your statement contradicts your profession, I suppose, since your colleagues, with all due respect to them, do not "owe" anything to non-contributing members of society, yet they'll represent them on the taxpayers dime because of the almighty dollar they receive for doing so. Touche, my friend.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

No. my statement cannot be linked to do with my profession in any way. FYI, public defenders (which is what I think you mean when you talk about criminals getting free lawyers) make less than an E-5 in the military)...not exactly an almighty dollar. I am also a 24 year veteran of the Cold War and both Gulf Wars and a Life member of the DAV, so I know a bit about the subject--the nation's cloth is not something to wrap ourselves to get free legal services or hamburgers at the corner resturant.

Asker

Posted

I am grateful of those who provide a service at a discounted rate in acknowledgement to those who contributed to protecting this great nation. At least those who served in uniform respect that little gesture of gratitude over someone who never worked a day in their life and haven't contributed to society other than to learn how to beat the system or be represented for free on how to beat the system. By the latter, I am referring to Social Security Disability because you and I both know that clients are represented on a contingent basis on SSD claims as that's generally an easy win with a larger payout to counsel.

Posted

Filing an appeal will mean that you need to file a complaint and continue a full blown litigation in Doylestown, which is next to impossible to do without an attorney

Asker

Posted

Good morning, Ms. Alperovich. Thank you kindly for taking the time to respond. Here are the documented facts of my case: - I hired a company to train my dog in obedience for a two week board and train program they offer. Cost was $2,100 - I did not receive training status updates as was mutually agreed upon until Day 11 of 14 days of training. - I immediately expressed my dissatisfaction with the progress in writing. I was reassured that the dog would be "flawless" upon pickup. - Day of pickup, I videoed the review of training with the instructor and my dog. What was supposed to be a two hour one-on-one review with the instructor lasted 20 minutes as soon as I expressed my dissatisfaction to the trainer as he told me to "sue" him if I wanted a refund. - Trainer sent me an email that said if I got my dog's Thyroid tested, and if results were "healthy", he would give me a full refund. - I took my dog to the Veterinarian for a comprehensive Thyroid screening of bloodwork. Results were normal. - I emailed the results and a copy of the Vet bill to the trainer since he made the test a requirement for me to get a refund. I didn't get a response. - Mailed a copy of results and Vet bill via certified mail. Again, no response. - Filed in District Court for reimbursement of $2,100 training fees, $200 for the Vet bill, and court filing costs. I wasn't aware that I needed an expert witness as I thought that the documented video footage I had of my dog BEFORE training would clearly show that my dog still wasn't trained when compared to the video footage I have of my dog during training and at the completion of the training with the trainer present in the video. The judge said that since the trainer is certified, although no certifications were presented to the court, I needed an expert witness to prove that my dog wasn't properly trained in accordance with what the company offers on their website. Had I known this was the law, I would've had no problem having my dog evaluated by another certified trainer and paid for their time to testify to that fact. Of note, the trainer displays the name of an dog training organization on his site, which he claims to be a member of. I found out after this debacle that he isn't a member of this association by contacting the association directly.

Posted

It is very difficult to say, partially because I don't know enough about the case and partially because the outcome of these types are matters are hard to predict. You certainly have a better opportunity with an expert and an attorney. You will need to weigh the cost/benefit.

This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this answer. It is advisable that you seek individualized legal assistance. This is not a substitute for hiring an attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you, Mr. Doyle, for the response. I have a letter from the trainer stating that if I had my dog's thyroid tested and the results showed he was "healthy", I'd be issued a "FULL refund". I followed those instructions by taking my dog to our Veterinarian and having a comprehensive thyroid test completed. The results were normal. I provided a copy of the results and the Vet bill to the trainer via email correspondence and didn't receive a response. I then sent correspondence and photocopies of the results and Vet bill via USPS Certified Mail. Again, no response, which was my reason to file in District Court. Had I known that I needed an expert witness to testify to the judge that my dog wasn't properly trained, I would've gladly had him evaluated by a local trainer as well as had them testify to that fact. The training that I sent my dog to guarantees results or the lesson is free. Although the judge said that the company's guarantee is weak, he said that it would work against the company in this case. At the beginning of the case, the judge ruled judgment in favor of the defendant's because of the expert witness testimony, however the judge didn't validate or question that this trainer is in fact an expert on the subject matter. I understand the cost/benefit hence the latter part of my initial question posted here on AVVO. In other words, are there legal resources available to help individuals recover awards that don't involve a windfall of money for the attorney?

Asker

Posted

One final note of consideration: I was under the impression that the purpose of District Court is to settle small claims in civil proceedings that occur in a more informal setting where representation and understanding of rules and procedures by the average layperson were not necessarily a requirement. I had also considered filing under Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) if it applied here. I'm not so sure Treble Damages would be applicable, however it is a useful weapon to have.

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