Monday, October 10, 2011

Paying Taxes is Not Compassion Nor Charity

First, thanks to the Examiner for encouraging public discourse regarding issues that are particularly critical at this time in the history of our nation as we enter the 2012 election season. Lee Stephens letter of October 7, 2011, presents a great opportunity to compare and contrast two stark philosophical differences surfacing in the current political debate, that could affect our nation for years to come.

Stephens has unwittingly bought into the socialist mantra that the payment of taxes is equated to compassion and fallen prey to the false doctrine of charity through government programs. Stephens’ letter parroted those views being espoused by President Obama and the liberal socialists, that those of us who advance the idea of a more limited government and less confiscatory taxes are somehow “heartless” without “a hint of compassion - much less Christian compassion.”

In contrast stand those of us who believe that real charity and compassion come from the individual, not the government. In Jesus’ repeated entreats to care for the poor, not once did He advocate the use of the Roman spear to enforce a social welfare system. We are called individually and as part of the body of Christian believers to care for widows and orphans and remember the poor. Never are we instructed to contribute to Cesar so that Cesar can maintain a social welfare system, which propagates generational dependency and destroys the human spirit; to which people will look for their support, rather than God, themselves or their neighbor.

As Frederic Bastiat a French thinker from the middle nineteenth century, pointed out, socialist confuse the distinction between government and society. As a result “every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialist conclude that we object to it being done at all.” If we object to federal welfare, then they say we are opposed to helping the poor, that we are “heartless”. If we disapprove of federally run schools, then they argue we are opposed to education.

Liberals and politicians have somehow gotten this egocentric idea that only through taxation and government spending, can we achieve progress in health, science, welfare and prosperity; that the needs of society will not be accomplished by self-interested individuals; that people do not have within themselves the means of discernment, the morality nor the motivation to action without government.

We could all agree that it would be wrong for me to grab your purse and take all of your money, even if I promised to do wonderful things with it. In fact, I would be arrested as a thief. However, for some reason, we do not object when the government does the same thing. Bastiat called this “legal plunder.” He wrote that legal plunder is based partially on philanthropy, even though it is a false philanthropy using other people’s money. And, as Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Today it seems that we default to government to take care of every societal need. What a strange paradox: While we apparently do not trust the people themselves to take care of such things as education, the arts, science, health care, welfare and distribution of wealth, we trust politicians to do so. Corruption and politics are almost synonymous, yet rather than allowing the benevolence and ingenuity of individuals to take care of the poor, we default to welfare; rather than relying on society to take care of education or the arts or the egalitarian needs, we look to government. How long until the people reclaim such power to themselves, and let it be known that they are better able themselves to take care of such things?

Contrary to Stephens’ beliefs, payment of taxes and more government programs is not “Christian compassion”. The payment of taxes is not charity. The federal government taking money from me and giving it to another is not charitable. Forced charity is not charity at all. True charity and compassion is found in us as individuals, great private philanthropic organizations and the local churches; not taxation for ever expanding government programs.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Todd Cone Law Office joined with Brad Barron on May 15, 2009 and filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Nowata royalty owners against certain oil and gas company and affiliates, operated under various “Quest” names.

The lawsuit alleged that Quest had been wrongfully deducting and overcharging the Nowata royalty owners for various costs associated with producing, transporting and gathering natural gas. On March 22, 2010, the judge entered an order consolidating the lawsuit with a similar one filed by Dennis Caruso. The various quest affiliates were previously run by Jerry D. Cash, who has seen his share of trouble over the last several years.

The Petition was later amended to include PostRock Energy Corp and other PostRock affiliates, the successor in interest to Quest. “My royalty check had been cut almost in half by Quest”, complained one Nowata royalty owner. The case was set for jury trial in October 2011.

On June 14 of this year, the Todd Cone Law Office, Brad Barron and Dennis Caruso filed a similar petition, as a class action, on behalf of all Oklahoma royalty owners against PostRock and Quest. On June 20, the court entered an order preliminarily approving certification of class action for settlement purposes, settlement agreement, approving form of notice to class members and setting date for settlement fairness hearing. Notice of a proposed settlement was filed on June 23.

PostRock issued a press release on June 20: PostRock Energy Corporation today announced that the District Court of Nowata County, Oklahoma, has preliminarily certified a class and approved settlement. . ."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lawsuit Against Chase Set for Jury Trial

During the last several years of the recession, with increasing unemployment and problems with the housing market, we have seen large numbers of families lose their homes in foreclosure. Bad enough if youhave been unable to make the payments to the bank. The embarrassment, time on the phone, time in court and financial strain all have a detrimental impact on your marriage and family. What if you discovered that the bank who sued you to foreclose, did not even own the note and mortgage for which they were foreclosing? What about if the bank had more than $80,000 of your money and refused to apply it towards the note and mortgage?

This was the case for a Nowata family, represented by Todd Cone and Brad Barron, who are battling with Chase Home Mortgage in Nowata County.

In January 2009, a Nowata couple lost everything when their home burned to the ground. Pregnant and with two small children, the couple moved back to Nowata to live in a mobile home, provided by parents, until they could receive insurance proceeds to purchase a home and start putting their lives back together. Records show that the house that burned was worth about $130,000, with about $90,000 owed on the note and

mortgage. The insurance company issued a check for $82,000, which the couple mailed to Chase to pay towards the mortgage. The couple requested that Chase apply the $82,000 and let them know the balance that was owed. The insurance company was ready to issue a check for the balance.

Chase refused to apply the funds towards payment of the note and mortgage, but instead sued the couple in May 2009, to foreclose on the burned down house. Frustrated, embarrassed and homeless, the couple called Chase on a weekly basis, trying to get Chase to apply the $82,000 Chase had in its account to the mortgage. Chase refused. Eventually, the foreclosure suit was dismissed. For the next several months, the couple spent hours talking to the various “customer service” representatives for Chase. Always to no avail. In September 2009, Chase again sued the couple to foreclose the mortgage on the burned down house, seeking more in interest and attorney fees and costs. After about 2 months,

the suit was dismissed.

The couple asked the insurance company to issue a check to Chase a check for $8,000, the amount they guessed was owed to Chase. Chase still refused to apply the $82,000 or the $8,000 and release the mortgage so that the couple to have access to the $30,000 in surplus insurance proceeds. Finally, the Nowata couple hired the Todd Cone Law Office and Brad Barron to file suit against Chase and Kivell, Rayment and Francis, the law firm who had wrongfully foreclosed against them - twice.

During discovery, Cone and Barron discovered that not only should Chase have not filed to foreclose, because they had more than $82,000 of the couple’s money, but Chase did not even own the note and mortgage upon which they had foreclosed - twice.

The case is currently set for a jury trial in October of this year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011 Boston Marathon

This year, I took my wife and 3 youngest kids with me to Boston for the Boston Marathon. With the Red Sox and Celtics, Boston Ballet, aquarium and incredible history surrounding the city, Boston is a great place to take the family. With a nice little run to top it off.

After 115 years, Boston has perfected the art of the marathon. This year on April 18, Patriots Day, a perfect day to run (40 degrees at the start and 50 degrees at the finish) a new world record was set at 2 hours and 3 minutes. I was within 200 yards of the winner . . . then the starter shot his pistol.

This year the 27,000 runners were divided into 3 waves in order to help with the running hoard. The bibs for the runners in wave 1 were colored red; in waive 2 white; and wave 3 blue. It was Patriots Day, the holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War, so red, white and blue were apropos.

During the months of training for a marathon, I ran anywhere from 40 to 70 miles a week. On the weekend, I did my "long runs", which were typically 18 to 20 miles. Before you "toe the line," you must be in shape. So, the first 16 miles are not too bad. However, at mile 16 the runners enter the Newton Hills, culminating in the famous Heartbreak Hill. By the time I hit
the peak of Heartbreak Hill and headed into Boston, I was pretty worn out.

When you hit the crest of Heartbreak Hill, there are only 5 more miles to gut-out and you can see Boston in the distance.

Just when you think you can't run any more, and you are telling yourself that you will never run another marathon, you run through thousands of cheering students from Boston College, and in the distance, you can see a giant "Citgo" sign, which is 1 one mile from the finish line.

The final mile at Boston is amazing. The cheering from the thousands of people as you turn towards Boylston is deafening. Then you turn back North and can see the finish line less than a quarter mile in the
distance. Your legs ache and you are exhausted, but you maintain a silly grin knowing that you are almost finished.

When you finally hit the finish line, exhausted and elated, you fall into a crowd of walking dead, where high-fives and kudos are exchanged between complete strangers.

What a great place for a marathon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ford Continues to Fight Customers and Appeals Ruling

After the Nowata District Court found Ford Motor Company liable for damages sustained by Ford customers in the customers' dealings with the Ford dealership in Nowata, Ford Motor Company decided to continue to battle Ford’s own customers. After securing judgment against the Ford Motor Company at trial where the Court ruled that Ford Motor Company failed to exercise ordinary care in appointing Edward Taylor and Thomas Plummer as a Ford dealer, Ford has appealed the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

In February 2008, Ford Motor Company approved and authorized Thomas Plummer and Edward Taylor, under the entity, Ibex, LLC, d/b/a Nowata Ford as an authorized Ford dealer to operate a Ford dealership in Nowata, Oklahoma. With Ford’s active help, Plummer and Taylor obtained a license to sell automobiles with the State of Oklahoma on March 11, 2008. Plummer and Taylor were inexperienced and under-capitalized, resulting
in significant problems for at least 63 Ford customers during the months of March to July of 2008. 12 Ford customers filed suit in the Nowata County District Court, against Ford, Ibex, Plummer and Taylor, seeking title to their vehicles, actual damages and punitive damages. In December 2008, the Court granted partial summary adjudication to 9 of the Plaintiffs, ordering and directing the OTC to issue certificates of title to those Ford customers.

Jury was waived and the 7 remaining cases were tried to the Court. Plaintiffs claimed that Ford was negligent, appointing under-capitalized and inexperienced men to operate a dealership, leading directly to the foreseeable damages suffered by the Plaintiffs; and such was so reckless as to justify the award of punitive damages. Plaintiffs also claimed Ford should be held vicariously liable for the damages caused by the Ford dealership, which was operating as the “Face of Ford”. The Court found in favor of the Plaintiffs, Tammy and Timothy Thornton, Carolyn and Jerry McIntosh, Betsey Gorley, Jimmy Denman, and Kimberly Teague; awarding $100,000 in punitive damages against Ibex and Plummer; awarding Plaintiffs a portion of their actual damages, attorney fees and costs against Ford; the Court declined to award punitive damages against Ford. After motion, which included evidence of what Ford paid its own attorneys, the Court adjusted Plaintiffs’ reasonable attorney fees.