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Can Prepaid Yoga Sessions Expire? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 5/1/12

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Ned: I have a question regarding the difference between a gift certificate and prepaid services in the State of California. When you purchase a gift certificate, it has a certain cash value and as such can never expire, at least in California. I recently purchased 20 pre-paid Yoga sessions from a spa in Venice. I discovered, much to my chagrin, that these sessions had an expiration date which had past, so I had to forfeit the cost of the remaining sessions. Legally speaking, what is the difference, according to the state, between a pre-paid gift certificate and pre-paid services, if any?


Joe Escalante: This is a rather new and in flux area of the law, but my understanding is that the new federal laws that prevent expiration dates on gift cards and certificates do not apply to pre-paid services, like yoga sessions. If it was $100 worth of Yoga, the new laws would apply (no expiration possible). However, if it’s a card or booklet for “10 sessions” it can expire according to the terms of the agreement (whatever is written in the materials accompanying the transaction).

This kind of makes sense if you think that 10 yoga sessions might be worth $500 today, but if you wait long enough, they might be worth $1,000. You paid $500, the Yoga school has to pay it’s instructors more than you are giving them.

A $500 gift card, will always be worth $500, so an expiration date on that is way more creepy than for a booklet of “sessions.”
I would negotiate a compromise or become tantricly enlightened somewhere else.

Adam: Can an employer be found liable through a preponderance of evidence for racial discrimination and profiling even if the employee resigns work due to the discrimination?

Joe Escalante: The argument would be that the employer created a “hostile environment.” So the employee didn’t really resign, they were “constructively” fired. So, yes.

Jacxon: I don’t know what I should do. I went to get a new drivers liscence and I was told my liscence is suspended from 2006 because of some apparent failure to appear in 2006 that I was never notified to appear in the first place. I did move that year so maybe that’s the problem but I’m really confused as to how if this happened in 2006. How was I able to originally get my liscence in 2007, I’ve had several in depth background checks for jobs over the past 6 years. I even went through the court system to change my name and get a passport and none of this came up anywhere? I’m just so confused as to what’s going on…. the slip I received from the DMV was some paper saying “failure to appear” however, I can’t fail to appear If I wasn’t notified in the first place. Please help.

Joe Escalante: If it’s a mistake, that’s one thing, but likely it was a ticket for a motor vehicle infraction. When you sign the ticket you are “promising to appear on or before the date” on the ticket. They don’t have to give you any further notification. That’s it.

The computer system doesn’t have to find it every time. You need to appear and clear it up. If they don’t have a copy of the ticket, or some other proof that you agreed to appear, it will likely be dismissed. Bring a tooth brush in case they are able to produce some old ticket you forgot about.

Patricia: Morning, separated from husband for 6 months he decided to buy a home is closing on Friday . Is this a material accest.I have a court date in may for a spousal support hearing since he bought this home will that hurt my chances of getting support, and am i intitled to some of the home i live in virgina thank you.

Joe Escalante: If he is spending too much money, that doesn’t mean your support must be reduced. In fact, it could mean the opposite. You need to make sure the court knows about this. Hopefully, you have a lawyer looking after you. Do you have an interest in the home? That depends. If he bought it with what is determined to be community property, then perhaps. But if the separation is legal, and he’s buying things with money that is separate property as determined by the court, then you would not have an interest. Most people wait until the divorce is final before they make purchases like this so it is interesting. Very bold.

Sunset: Is it worth filing a charge of age discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC or is it better to sue a county government through a private attorney?

Joe Escalante: Why not do both. You might have to. And to sue the government you might have to file some paperwork with the government to make sure they are going to allow you to sue them. Cool, right? In California, you start at this place:

Joyce: Hi Joe, I live in TX and wrote a will thru LegalZoom. My husband kept putting off writing his will, so I copied mine to tailor it to his needs. I believe that is acceptable in TX. Can you confirm that for me? Thanks

Joe Escalante: It could be done. If the first will wasn’t screwed up to begin with, copying the relevant language might produce a valid will for someone else in the same state, if you like to live dangerously. I do. Make sure that it is properly signed according to Texas law. The Texas Probate Code provides the person making a will with the option of adding a self-proving affidavit to the will. A self proving affidavit is signed by the person making the will and two witnesses before a notary public. This helps speed things along during probate. However, for $69.00. Why mess around? Especially if you are not showing it to an attorney.

Alice: Our District Attorney did not charge two police officers who murdered a 22 year old in their custody. In order for the Attoney General’s Office to review the case we need to show misconduct. To show misconduct they need to look at the case. How do I get past the PIU’s form letter response-to a real person that will give me 15 minutes? It is a Catch-22. It’s not flashy misconduct, they were sloppy. The consequences lead to the same place. We have unstable, dangerous police back on patrol.

Joe Escalante: Maybe we should hold off calling it “murder” since it’s sloppiness as opposed to flashy misconduct. That’s probably not helping your case. You need a civil rights attorney that has fought the police department before. Otherwise, you are spinning your wheels. Also, you are increasing the response time for any eventual emergencies you may have from your home in the future, if you live in this jurisdiction -sad, but perhaps true.
Get an attorney involved is my advice.

Raymond: I have a neighbor who is mowing three feet into my yard over the property line. I told her a long time ago where the line was when she moved in. But must have told her new husband where she thinks it is. He crops his grass down to the ground and i mow high. Do i have any rights? Would it be Frivolous to sue over this? Thanks! Raymond.

Joe Escalante: Officially, you would send written notice and give a reasonable amount of time for them to comply. If they didn’t, you would go to court to get an injunction from them touching your property with anything, especially a mal-adjusted lawn blade.
The next time they do it, they’re in contempt of court. That can land them in jail. This will be the talk of the neighborhood and all will rightfully fear you, and bow down with respect at the next block party.
Or you could just ask the dude out for a beer and laughingly tell him about the misunderstanding and get it sorted out bro-style.

Tiffany: was married for 1 month before husband left me. We have been married legally 11.5 yrs – haven’t seen/heard from him in 6yrs. LegalAid services told me they can’t help me until I get his address AND social security number and a mess of other jumbo. I live in NY state. Can I get him for abandonment? We do have joint-custody with one child as well.

Joe Escalante: Go to the court where he last lived, if that’s not too inconvenient and file for divorce. You have to serve him. If the doesn’t reply, the court has a process of “notice by publication.” If he still doesn’t respond, you are headed for a default divorce. You can remove his custody rights at the same time. Buy the Nolo Press divorce book and read it. You can do this on your own if you cannot afford an attorney.

Keya: I need to file an Answer (Civil) Pro Se (by myself) and I would like to know the best way to do so, can you please give me a few pointers as soon as possible. Please note that I do not have any Michigan Court Rules in front of me….

Joe Escalante: You either need a lawyer or some good googling skills, plus a few trips to the local law library. The law librarian is going to be your best friend. The court clerk is your 2nd best friend. Most courts have a lot of pro se resources that will get you the rules easily. Here’s some help from Michigan:
My best pointer would be to act humble before these clerk and the librarian to get them on your side.

Jan: I have Twin boys 19 yrs. old I never got Child support from their Dead beat dad. He never even seen them grow up. BEINGS HE JUST RECENTLY GOT ON SSd and started recieving his back ssd payments.Know what could dong some back support about getting ut of thisome back support out of this deadbeat dad?

What can we do about getting some of his Backpay from SSD out of this deadbeat Dad?

Joe Escalante: You can sue for unpaid back child support. You need to file a claim in Family court against this Hillbilly dead beat. Try to get a consultation with a family law attorney in your area.

Scott: Hey Joe… I am in Network Marketing. I am averaging over $300k a year in income from it.. Should I get a LLC? What would be the benefit of me having a LLC in this case?

Joe Escalante: This is where you sit down and figure out the shenanigans available to you with your tax lady. It will probably work out for you.

Sean: Can one LLC own another LLC without it being in a Series LLC?

Joe Escalante: Generally, an LLC can be a member of another LLC, but with respect to how this could give rise to Series LLC issues, too complicated for this forum. Speak to your tax pro about this.

Dennis: Joe, if someone is charged $3,500 at a Gentlemen’s Club and they cannot give you the break down or proper invoice – is it possible to dispute? The bar tab was less than $100 and maybe $25 in food. Any legal options you can share on something like this – as odd as it may sound. Thanks!

Joe Escalante: If you are in the Secret Service, just pay the biyatches. If not, dispute the claim with the credit card company. Take them to small claims court if that doesn’t work, and call my radio show all long the way to give them bad publicity and everybody wins. Except Satan.

Marvin: Can pain & suffering be claimed in Small Claims Court? How do you prove it?? Thanks !!!

Joe Escalante: Generally no. But small claims judges often ignore the law and do unique things like splitting babies etc. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Usually it’s a multiple of your medical expenses. Prove them, and you’ve proved pain and suffering in some courts, so give it a try in small claims.

LegalZoom: That’s it for Free Joe Tuesday! Come join us on Friday for more free legal advice and have a great Tuesday!

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May 3rd, 2012 at 6:10 am