Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Help Me Howard: Held Hostage
A South Florida business owner says she's basically being held hostage by another business' landlord. Hoping to unlock the problem, she called help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Monica was a little girl, she loved to work with her father.
Monica Orth: "I used to put stickers on the products when I was four years old, in the backyard with Dad. I always hung out with Dad."
Today, Mike and Monica are still hanging out, running SBC Industries together.
Monica Orth: "Working with my dad every day, it's spectacular."
Their company sells what's called flashing all over the county that is used to waterproof roofs.
Monica Orth: "My dad patented the concept."
Some of the work is done at their warehouse
Monica Orth: "And then this goes into here and cuts the material."
But they have an agreement with a stamping company to use these dies to punch out bigger pieces.
Monica Orth: "We gave them $50,000 worth of dies, and recently they were evicted from their warehouse."
The company, which had been loaned their six dies, was locked out by the landlord over a monetary dispute. Monica's equipment was inside, so she called the landlord.
Monica Orth: "And we thought it would be a simple. 'Hey, you have our stuff in your warehouse and we need it back to run our company. We are pretty desperate for it.' And his answer was, 'How much money are you going to give me?'"
Monica explained that they already owned the dies inside the warehouse,
and without them they could not fill the orders coming in every day.
Monica Orth: "I asked him, 'Please don't do this to me. You will put my company out of business, and can you imagine putting a company out of business that's been around that my dad started?'"
The landlord was not moved.
Monica Orth: "He said, 'Call me tomorrow and let me know how much you are going to give me.'"
It's their equipment, loaned to another company, locked in a warehouse, and seemingly no way to get it back.
Monica Orth: "We need to solve this problem. We're gonna make sure it gets solved, someway, somehow. We are hoping you can help."
Well, Howard, they are stuck in the middle of a dispute between another company owner and his landlord. Are Mike and Monica legally entitled to get their $50,000 worth of equipment back?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, they are, but they have to be able to prove that they own the equipment that is locked up. If they can and the landlord won't give it back, they have to file what the law calls a writ of replevin, and then a judge can order that it be returned."
I first spoke to the landlord. He was not a lot of help. His attorney was reasonable. He told me if Monica could show proof that it's their equipment inside the warehouse, and give a reasoned legal basis that required its return, he would talk to his client. We then found a lawyer who was going to help Monica get that written up for free.
Then, a reminder of why it's better to be lucky than good. The owner of General Stamping got back into business.
Monica Orth: "General Stamping just reopened. It surprised all of us, but he came up with the money, paid his rent and his doors opened.
Monica will now only take the specific dies to the stamping company that is needed that day. Her business wasn't hurt much, and her relief at getting her dies back is evident.
Monica Orth: "Thank God."
We worked hard to help them, but when the stamping reopened, we were reminded it's better to be lucky. Now, if you leave your car at a repair shop, keep the title with you. Or if you leave your phone to be fixed at a shop, make sure you have the receipt in case they get evicted. In fact, keep sales receipts for all major items. You never know when you're going to need them.
Got a problem that's holding you hostage? Feel like a solution is locked away? Contact us. Hopefully we can stamp you "case solved." With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.