TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING:
Marjorie is an 83-year old retired nurse who only wanted to help better the lives of a young woman and her baby by taking them into her home. The young mother was the granddaughter of a deceased friend. Marjorie thought helping her get back on her feet would honor the memory of her friend.
It soon became apparent that the house guest had no intention of seeking employment or bettering her situation. She began taking advantage of her hostess’ generosity. The young woman shouted threats when confronted, invited strange men into the home at all hours of the night, and was suspected of using drugs with the visitors. Marjorie was terrified to even come out of her bedroom and locked herself in every night. She called the police for help in forcing the woman out of her home. Because there was a misunderstanding as to whether the young woman was a guest or a tenant, they felt they couldn’t legally evict her.
Desperate for help, Marjorie was referred to LAET by the local Office on Aging. The LAET attorney who accepted her case and represented her in court successfully argued that the young woman’s status under the law was that of unwanted guest or trespasser since she did not pay rent. The court agreed, and the young woman was given a deadline by which time she and her baby should leave the home. She left without further incident, and Marjorie once again enjoys the peace, comfort, and security of her home. She wanted to share her story in order to prevent something similar from happening to anyone else.
NEEDING HELP TO HELP HIS NEIGHBORS:
Michael came to LAET’s Legal Advice Clinic on December 9, 2016. Living in Sevierville, he was not directly impacted by the devastating wildfires on November 28, but wanted to help his Sevier County neighbors who had lost everything. Michael had a brilliant idea to address one big need, but he needed advice on legal issues surrounding his plan.
Michael wants to team up with Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries to set up a Facebook page where people can donate used cars to families who lost their sole means of transportation in the disaster. At the LAET clinic, he met with volunteer attorney Amber Peters who provided advice on the spot and agreed to draft a liability release for car donations to SWARM.
ENDING YEARS OF FEAR AND ABUSE:
Anna Maria and her mother came to LAET’s Family Justice Center office. After years of physical and sexual abuse, the 11-year-old had decided to trust someone enough to tell her story. With tears in her eyes, she clutched her teddy bear as she spilled out the story of how her mother’s former boyfriend had sexually and physically abused her. She had overcome the fear of what he might do if she told someone. She desperately wanted help, and LAET agreed to take her case.
On the first day of court, Anna Maria bravely took the stand, answering questions honestly. She stood up to cross examination like a trooper, and she even corrected the defense attorney when he misspoke of her earlier testimony. Her abuser was far less credible on the stand, and after court ended, he even threatened the young girl in front of witnesses. Her mother reported this to the LAET attorney, who immediately filed for a violation of the temporary order of protection.
At trial the next day, witnesses testified of the threats to Anna Maria. Despite the abuser’s testimony that he didn’t threaten her, multiple witnesses testified that he was lying. The judge found that the abuser had indeed sexually abused her, and also found him guilty of threatening her at court. The abuser was arrested and jailed for the violation.
The judge also granted Anna Maria a five-year extension to the order of protection from her abuser. She no longer had to live in fear of threats, beatings and sexual abuse. Anna Maria was relieved that someone believed her, and that LAET stood up to her abuser for her. She felt like she finally had a voice and that she was heard. Anna Maria felt protected and confident for the first time in years.
NOT THE CAR SHE BARGAINED FOR:
The online ad said the car was in perfect condition and that the tires, electrical system and engine were all in good shape. Gina bought the car from a used car dealer based on that advertised description. After the purchase, she discovered that the car was a rusted out mess, and the tires were worn down to the steel cord on the side facing inward.
Having a car in good working condition was critical to Gina because she is disabled. She turned to Legal Aid of East Tennessee for help. Her LAET attorney sued the dealer for misrepresentation because the online ad for the car was untrue. The judge found in favor of Gina and ordered the dealer to pay all that was needed to repair the vehicle to the condition promised in the ad.
Although it was a small amount of money, the $2500 judgment was huge to Gina.