Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Help Me Howard: Memorable cases
Every year, thousands of people turn to 7 News to help with their legal troubles, and those problems end up on the desk of Help Me Howard. From a barbershop battle to a misleading Internet ad to a pair of honest people, we're looking back on some of the more memorable cases. Here's 7's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Whoever said you can't fight city hall never met Elena Linares.
Elena Linares, RazzleDazzle Barber Shop: "The decor is to throw men back in time to a classier time, easier, stress free."
When she opened RazzleDazzle Barber Shop in Coral Gables, all she needed was a barber pole like this, but for seven months the city refused.
Elena Linares: "Help Me Howard was the best."
We helped her get the pole approved, and then she went out to help other people. Elena and a few pretty friends created this calendar to sell to help battered women.
Elena Linares: "The calendar was created to help women and children in distress."
And if you want to buy a couple extra, she is sending the calendars to U.S. soldiers battling for our country overseas, so they can look at a pretty face as they count down the days till they come home.
After 11 years it's beginning to dawn on me that we like people who refuse to give up.
Alina Diaz, tree trouble: "I'm laughing because it's so absurd."
The City of Miami planted three trees in the swale in front of Alina Diaz's house but didn't stake them properly. When one broke, Miami did what Alina never expected. They fined her $500, so she filed an appeal.
Last week she battled the bureaucracy and won. The fine was dismissed.
Sometimes it's not just the good guys who won't give up. Remember Kaitlyn Brown who found her picture on the Internet advertising a weight loss company? She was the after picture. Problem was she never gave them the after picture. Second problem: She was not the before picture.
Kaitlyn Brown, Not Before Picture: "I have no idea who that lady is."
We finally got her picture off the websites, but after the story aired, they must not have been happy. Kaitlyn's picture still occasionally pops up on the Internet.
Jim Rolffs, Really Really Honest: "I looked down and saw some money."
If we could afford plaques, the Rolffs would get one for honesty. They found money at a store and turned it over to police.
Jim Rolffs: "It's not our money."
They called us because they learned the police were going to keep the money if no-one claimed it.
We helped them get it. They told us they paid some bills with the money.
Cash was a big concern for Kami Churba. She was renting this bank building to Washington Mutual when they went belly up, and the federal government took over. The rent checks stopped, and Kami was owed $26,000.
Patrick Fraser: "Does it surprise you that a bank won't pay their rent on a building?"
Kami Churba, Bank Wouldn't Pay: "Absolutely, absolutely. It's terrible."
When we talked to the FDIC, they told us Kami needed to file a claim, and it could take years to get her money.
But the FDIC moved quickly. Three months later, Uncle Sam sent her these two checks totaling over $26,000. Nice surprise.
When Michael Hernandez saw an plain beige car try to pull him over, he did what police advise you to do: he kept driving, dialed 911 and did what the dispatcher told him to do.
Dispatcher: "Stay with me on the phone if you don't feel safe."
When Michael was told it was a cop, he pulled over and was given four tickets. When he called us, he faced losing his license.
Anthony Mallo, attorney: "Your honor, hearing no response. I move to dismiss."
After our story aired, Anthony Mallo agreed to represent Michael in court and won.
Anthony Mallo: "I saw he did nothing wrong, certainly his actions were justified."
Michael was right on the road, things turned out right in court.
Michael Hernandez, Proven Right: "It was great. I really appreciate the help from WSVN, I'd like to thank everyone of you guys."
A rescue group gave Paul Casey Ziggy.
Paul Casey, Dog Fight: "He's my life, he's my kid."
Then, the owner of the rescue group had a business dispute with Paul and filed suit to get Ziggy back. Paul refused to give up his dog.
Patrick Fraser: "What if the courts tell you to give Ziggy up?"
Paul Casey: "I will go to jail."
But the judge never did. Technically, the case is still alive, but no one is pushing it. That means Ziggy stays where he belongs, with Paul.
We meet so many interesting people, and everyone who contacts us has one thing in common: They need help, and we are glad to help.
Your New Year's resolution to find a solution? Don't eat, drink and be "married" to your problem. Contact us and get your answers tailor-made for the next decade.
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