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Questions Answered by Gerald Barry Dorfman
2 Answers | Asked in Consumer Law, Civil Litigation, Collections and Small Claims for California on
Q: Can I hire an attorney for limited services?

I wish to hire an attorney to help with preparing an "opposition to motion to deem matters admitted". Is it possible to hire for only that, or will attorneys require they represent me throughout the entire case?

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Jan 11, 2022

You can hire an attorney to provide "limited scope" services. If you want them to actually appear in court, just for a single motion or hearing, that can be done. You can also have them just write the papers and coach you on how to represent yourself. See, for example: LimitedScopeCounsel.com

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Criminal Law for California on
Q: neighbor hired a fence repairman who cut down my very large 16 year old shrub. What are my options?

My situation involves a neighbor who hired a fence repairman to remove the last section of fence separating our properties under the guise of installing a new fence post where there wasn't one prior for the neighbor, instead the worker destroyed and uprooted a large shrub on my side of the... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Jan 6, 2022

You may be entitled to up to three times your damages plus attorney fees. Obtain an estimate of the replacement value of the shrub and set up a consultation with a real estate attorney. Your options are to either settle or sue. There are various methods of negotiating settlements. You... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Civil Litigation for California on
Q: Can dismissing a civil suit result in fees?
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Dec 30, 2021

Yes. A prevailing party is entitled to their "costs". Depending on the case, these can be quite significant. In some cases, such as when a contract or statute allows them, attorney fees may also be assessed. Some costs are automatic and are awarded after a "memorandum of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: Tenant filed their response to UD on 12/16. They were served w/ complaint on 12/27. Is response valid or invalid?

The tenants were served the complaint and summons on 12/27. Yet they filed their response on 12/16. Is their response valid? It seems that they are putting the cart before the horse.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Dec 29, 2021

Generally, when a case is filed a defendant can file a response without being served, if they so choose. Not clear from your post how they knew about the complaint, but the response would not be invalidated just because they were served afterwards.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for California on
Q: Can a buyer sue a seller for train noise that was disclosed?

We just closed on the sale of our house a month ago. We just got an email from our agent. The buyer's agent says the buyer wants us to compensate them for new windows. They are complaining about train noise which was disclosed. They are also claiming dogs barking which we never had an issue... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Dec 23, 2021

It sounds like you would win the case, just based on what you have written here. That doesn't mean they can't sue you. Review the sale contract to see if mediation is required before bringing suit, whether attorney fees are available to the prevailing party, or any other terms that... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: My landlord wants to inspect the house, can we deny entry to her for fear of covid?

There's a new born baby at the house and a new mom that cant get the vaccine so we don't feel safe letting her in at this time.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Dec 18, 2021

The answer to your question is going to be governed by Civil Code section 1954, along with a careful analysis of the facts. First, read Civil Code section 1954. It discusses specifically the situations under which a landlord can enter the rental premises. If the "inspection" your... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for California on
Q: Rental termination fee

I need help with a rental termination fee. I used to live in San Francisco. I was unable to pay my rent and came over to Chicago to seek affordable housing and good schools for my kids. My previous landlord sent me an invoice of around 12,000$ because of finishing my rental prematurely. What should... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Dec 16, 2021

You need an attorney to look at your rental agreement in order to properly advise you on the specifics of your case. Generally, a tenant is responsible for the full term of the lease. However, the landlord is required to "mitigate damages", that is, try to re-rent the unit once the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Requesting information about being a non-spousal beneficiary on the life insurance plan of my deceased ex-partner.

Resolved.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Nov 19, 2021

This is the type of detailed information you should not be posting on the Internet. Just by way of example, assume you have a right to both, but there is strong possibility one or more relatives may file suit. One good outcome would be to disclaim the 401K in exchange for a release for all claims... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: How to move Grandpa in our rental house if we have tenants on a lease until Feb 2021???

Our Grandpa needs care, my brother and I live on the same block as the rental house we have, and we love our Grandpa! The tenants we have are there until Feb, but Grandpa needs housing by the end of November. How do we get the tenants out? They are good tenants, but Grandpa is way more important... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Nov 1, 2021

If you have a valid lease with your tenants which runs through February, 2022, you can't force them to leave before then. A lease is a contract. Your best course may be to try to negotiate a buyout.

2 Answers | Asked in Car Accidents for California on
Q: Is it worth getting a lawyer if a family is sueing me for crashing into them when they had said they were not injured.

I crashed into them when they had breaked checked over exaggerated when they had enough time to slow down, they’re rear bumper was the only thing damaged and my hood, bumper, and fenders were damaged, therefore I checked and asked if they were okay and they said that they were and when my dad... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Oct 28, 2021

Turn this over to your insurance company right away. They will provide you with a lawyer and defend you. If you did not have insurance, you will have to defend yourself, and risk having a very large judgement against you, as well as having your license taken away until you pay the judgement. It... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: Commercial tenant abandonment/early lease term. Are they legally responsible for remainder owed on lease (10 mos)?

Our tenant wrote us a letter stating they can no longer operate their business on our property and mailed it to us along with their key. Their lease agreement doesn't end till July 2022. On the lease it states all parties will not seek court action and will seek mediation /arbitration to... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Sep 23, 2021

Generally, a tenant is responsible for the full lease term, BUT the landlord must reasonably attempt to "mitigate" the damages. That means the landlord should try to rent out the space once the tenant has left. IF (the language in the lease is very important) the parties have agreed to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for California on
Q: Utility company has equipment on my land w/o proper easement. Can I get rent for space or make them move said equipment

The water utility has 3 large water tanks on my land. They own 1/2 acre above me on the hill but their land is very steep so I assume the last owner of my property allowed them to use his land. I know the utility has an easement on my land to access their equipment for repairs but no where did I... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Aug 27, 2021

Theoretically you can. Unfortunately for you, there are other possible explanations for the location of the tanks. Some first steps: If you have not already done so, read the title report very carefully. Review the written disclosures given to you in connection with the sale by the seller.... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for California on
Q: My husband will not set up a trust, our assets are about 1.75 million. What happens if he should suddenly die?
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Jul 24, 2021

Generally, and understanding the details matter: Assuming all your property is community property, and he has no will, his estate (his half of your community property) will go through probate. Probate is a court process. You will receive the property, minus costs of administration. If there is... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Car Accidents for California on
Q: If I a the lien holder on car I am selling to my granddaughter, can I still be or liable if she got in a wreck

I currently live in CA. I just want to make sure she doesn't sell it. shes young and sometimes impulsive

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Jul 9, 2021

If you are still the legal owner, then yes you can be held liable for owner's liability. If the car is transferred completely in her name, and you are just a lien holder, you would not be liable for her actions. The usual way to do this type of transaction is for you to get a promissory note... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: In California, can a tenant on a month-to-month lease request a move out date mid-month and must I prorate rent?

I gave the tenant 60 days notice to move out of my property, with a move out date of May 31. The tenant countered with a move out date of May 20 and asked to prorate rent in May. Am I legally obligated to prorate the last months rent? The property is in Torrance, Los Angeles County, California.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on May 6, 2021

If the rental agreement does not specifically address the situation, and the tenant has properly given the 30 days notice, then yes, the tenant may move on any day of the month, and only owes prorated rent for the last month.

4 Answers | Asked in Personal Injury, Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice for California on
Q: How do I prove a pharmacist did not fill my prescription correctly and as a result I have permanent repercussions

Yes I have been permanently affected due to his negligence but I have no money for a lawyer

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Apr 27, 2021

In addition to Mr. Light's answer, you will need expert medical opinions. If you really are seriously affected, you really need to get a knowledgeable attorney.

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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for California on
Q: My apartment building got sold 4mo into my year lease, now the new company is raising my rent. Is it legal?

I live in California. I signed the year lease in August, the new company took possession January 1st 2021, they sent a notice out March 1st saying that rent would be raised effective May 1st.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Apr 6, 2021

No. A new owner buys property "subject to" any leases in effect at the time of purchase. That means they can not raise your rent for the time your current lease is in effect.

1 Answer | Asked in Arbitration / Mediation Law and Medical Malpractice for California on
Q: Why do lawyers not take medical arbitration, unless there is complete paralysis or loss of limb.

Is there a amount that is minimum for lawyers to break even on a case.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Mar 19, 2021

The short answer is that the medical industry convinced the Legislature to pass laws stacking the deck in the industry's favor and against patients and their attorneys. Even without special laws, these types of cases require a great deal of time and financial investment. Virtually 100%... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Can I be the petitioner in my Grandmother to Mother's succession

Everyone has passed on in life but there is not a succession in place. All of my Grandparents kids which are my parents or uncles/aunts, can I be the petitioner in the succession.

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Mar 18, 2021

Yes.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: mom died in CA, ONLY asset is bank account in MA. MA bank will NOT accept CA small estate affidavit. any suggestions?

Have letter from bank specifically declining CA Affidavit for collection of personal property, probate code section 13100-13116. Stating they require: "a certified copy of the court document appointing you as person representative, executor, or other like fiduciary of the estate of the... Read more »

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman answered on Mar 9, 2021

If the bank account has no beneficiary listed, and no co-owner, then it is part of the estate, so the estate value is not zero. Being in a bank out of state does not remove it from the estate. Not sure why you don't know the value. Do you not have access to her mail/bank statements? If you... Read more »

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