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    Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

    RJ Gaudet & Associates is pleased to announce that Joseph Federici now works for the U.S. Department of Defense as a speech writer. Mr. Federici was formerly Of Counsel at RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC since roughly 2014 and he has worked for the Center for Strategic and International Studies over the past several years. Mr. Federici and Mr. Gaudet met through their shared leadership responsibilities in the American Bar Association Section of International Law International Human Rights Committee. They organized a conference on access to justice and class action lawsuits at the European Parliament in Brussels. “He is a person of great integrity and he is committed to doing the right thing,” says Mr. Gaudet. Mr. Federici’s former work also includes serving as a teaching assistant to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The firm wishes Mr. Federici all of the best with his new appointment.

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    One year after Canutillo resident Joseph Thoma paid $47,000 + interest for a solar panel system, Erus Builders, LLC asked him to buy 16 more panels for $17,000 to complete the system.

    EL PASO, Jan. 26, 2021 – RJ Gaudet & Associates filed a lawsuit in El Paso state court on behalf of a retired veteran, Joseph Thoma, and his wife who live in Canutillo, Texas against Erus Builders, LLC and Paramount Equity Mortgage, LLC over the sale of a $47,000 solar panel system that was supposed to provide “full coverage” of their home’s electricity needs with enough surplus to sell back to El Paso Electric Company.  

    According to the suit, after installation, the Thomas had to keep paying the El Paso Electric Company as well as monthly payments to finance the principal and interest of the solar panel system, which will cost $70,000 over the lifetime of the loan.  The Petition also states that, although it was not disclosed at the time of purchase, Erus’s solar panel system only provides 73% of the Thoma home’s electricity needs. 

    The lawsuit alleges that Erus only admitted it had sold Mr. Thoma a partial system about one year after installation and after it made fake excuses that it took time for the system to adapt and that Mr. Thoma needed to trim his trees because their shade was supposedly impairing the system.  “They told me to wait 10 months for the new system to average itself out, but that was a lie,” says Plaintiff Joseph Thoma. He did not believe Erus’s other excuse about the trees, either, saying, “I asked them why didn’t they trim my trees when they installed the solar panels but they didn’t give me any explanation.”

    To initially find Erus, Mr. Thoma looked on the internet for an affordable solar panel system and got a call back from an Erus sales representative.  “She called and said I’d need 42 solar panels and a converter box and that I’d get full coverage for my house plus enough surplus to sell back to the city,” says Mr. Thoma.  After Erus inspected the Thoma home, designed a system, and installed the solar panels, Mr. Thoma’s electric bills did not go away.

    The lawsuit alleges Erus Builders, LLC worked hand-in-glove with Paramount Equity Mortgage, LLC d/b/a Loanpal to sell and finance Mr. Thoma’s purchase.  As the lawsuit describes, Loanpal imposed a lien on the solar panels affixed to the Thoma residence even though Mrs. Thoma had not sign the papers or given her consent to the imposition of the lien, which the Thomas allege is an unlawful practice under Texas law.  The seeks actual and special damages and treble damages as allowed by the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  The Petition also alleges common law fraud, breach of contract, and statutory fraud in real estate.

    Asked if he thinks this could happen to others, Mr. Thoma says, “yes, it could happen to anyone.”  He adds, “they don’t tell you that it’s an incomplete system until one year after you buy the system and, by then, it’s too late to cancel the deal unless you find a lawyer to represent you.”  Mr. Thoma recalls that, when he tried to work out the problem, Erus’s Vice President of Operations told him, “sorry” and said “we already got paid” and then hung up.  The Thomas hope to get the company’s attention with their lawsuit.

    Erus Builders, LLC is a Phoenix-based company that installs solar panels in El Paso and operates out of 1155 Larry Mahan Drive.  Its license on the Texas Secretary of State website is listed as “FORFEITED.”  Erus Builders, LLC or “Erus Energy” signs have been seen posted near mailboxes in El Paso residential areas.  Loanpal is a California-based company.

    For more information, please contact Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. at (915) 308-0025 or at robert AT rjgaudet.com. RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC is a law firm in Washington and Texas that represents victims of fraud, consumer protection violations, wage theft, and employment discrimination. 

    One of my top several favorite law professors just passed away, Barbara Babcock. She used to say, “in 1937, a star was born” and then explained that was the year of her birth as well as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that set forth the rules for lawsuits in federal courts. She always repeated, “read the rules, read the rules!”

    Prior to joining Stanford Law School, she was head of the public defenders association in DC. She was later appointed by our last human rights hero, President Jimmy Carter, to be Assistant Attorney General of Civil Division at Department of Justice.

    Prof. Babcock (along with Gerald Gunther, Bob Rabin, Deborah Hensler, and some others) personified Stanford for me: warm, gentle, kind, easy-going. She was so nice. I really loved being in her class, even for a subject that I Ioathed as pedantic, Civil Procedure, but which is probably the most important for my work.

    I don’t know what Stanford will become without her and Prof Gunther but I hope the newer faculty carry on their tradition.

    – Robert J. Gaudet, Jr., Stanford Law School, J.D. (2002)

    https://law.stanford.edu/directory/barbara-babcock/

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    Mr Gaudet recently made oral argument at the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Omaha, Nebraska on behalf of the Estate of Petersen after winning a jury verdict for breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent misrepresentation against financial advisor William Bitters (operating now under https://estatesandcaptives.com) in the US District Court for the District of Nebraska.

    He argued the District Court erred in (a) barring pain and suffering damages and (b) cutting the jury’s damages award in half based on an inapplicable legal theory and (c) dismissing Arizona lawyer Robert W. Boland ftom the lawsuit despite his associated business with Defendant Bitters.  

    Argument was heard by Judge Gruender (who is on President Trump’s list of top 25 candidates for the US Supreme Court) and by Judge Kelly (who President Obama interviewed for the Supreme Court) and by Judge Erickson (who asked many questions and therefore may be the likely author of the panel’s opinion).

    Pictures from the Durham Museum in Omaha.

    Proverbs of the native Americans of the Omaha tribe
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    On July 19, 2018, a jury in Omaha, Nebraska entered a verdict of $713,000 against a financial advisor for breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent misrepresentation and against a borrower who did not repay a loan from the late Joyce R. Petersen.

    Erik Petersen, Joyce R. Petersen, and Jilynn Wall

    Ms. Petersen was a long-time resident of Omaha and a music teacher who left behind an insurance policy with a benefit of $140,000 for her church in Omaha.

    Ms Petersen Playing Keyboard – Video

    Her children, Erik Petersen and Jilynn Wall, filed a lawsuit against her former financial advisor, William Bitters, and a borrower who did not repay a loan that was arranged by Mr. Bitters. Ms. Petersen’s children brought the lawsuit in honor of their mother’s memory and to seek justice on her behalf.

    Joyce R. Petersen Standing Before a Sculpture of a Lion and a Lamb Sitting In Peace

    Ms. Petersen’s children testified in a trial that included seven days of evidence, testimony, and closing arguments as well as an additional day for jury deliberation. They testified Ms. Petersen absolutely trusted her financial advisor but was misled. For instance, he told her that he was asking the borrower to repay her when, in fact, the borrower testified Mr. Bitters told him not to repay her but, instead, to use the money to pay for a renewal premium on an insurance policy sold to him by Mr. Bitters which allowed Mr. Bitters to earn a commission.

    The lawsuit was brought to clear Ms. Petersen’s name, obtain justice, and honor her memory, for instance, with donations to charities that Ms. Petersen loved and to a church that she attended in her last few years.

    Joyce Petersen and Her Husband on Scooters

    Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. was trial co-counsel, examined numerous witnesses including Mr. Bitters, and made the closing statement.  Karin Gaudet-Asmus assisted with legal research, exhibits, and numerous other matters at trial.

    Mr. Gaudet’s co-counsel was Dallas lawyer J. Hamilton McMenamy.  Closing arguments ended on July 18 and the verdict was rendered on July 19.

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    Taking the Oath of a Lawyer

    December 20, 2017 @ 1:05 am

    On December 19, 2017, Karin Gaudet-Asmus was sworn into the California bar association by the Honorable David Guaderrama of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso.  The judge complimented her for passing one of the country’s hardest bar exams and noted it is especially an accomplishment for someone who speaks English as a second language.  Mrs. Gaudet-Asmus’s native language is Dutch and she is a proud member of the local Dutch community in El Paso.  It was very gracious of Judge Guaderrama, his clerks, and his bailiff/guard to make time for Mrs. Gaudet-Asmus’s swearing-in ceremony.  Congratulations, Mrs. Gaudet-Asmus!

    In November 2017, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. approved a $1.7 million settlement of FLSA and COBRA claims that Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. co-prosecuted against the U.S. Government on behalf of employees of the Customs and Border Protection Service who took a training course for canine detection – in El Paso, Texas and Front Royal, Virginia – but were not paid compensation for after-hours time spent studying.

    Court approval is required for any settlement of a FLSA claim.  Although the Government argued no such approval was necessary, the Court sided with arguments researched and drafted by Mr. Gaudet that were submitted to the Court as part of extensive legal briefing.  “I am proud to have been a part of this case on behalf of Canine officers in the Border Patrol who were not paid for training time that benefited their employer, the U.S. Government,” said Mr. Gaudet.

    Mr. Gaudet is a lawyer licensed in Texas and Washington who works on cases across the United States with co-counsel. He is also a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA).  Mr. Gaudet is currently prosecuting another case in Washington, D.C. on behalf of employees of a seafood distribution company, OceanPro AKA ProFish, that provides seafood to the White House, the CIA, five-star hotels and restaurants, and over 3,000 customers but that misclassifies its employees as “exempt” from wage requirements and fails to pay them for overtime hours in excess of forty hours per week.

    Mr. Gaudet is a fifth-generation El Pasoan whose great-great-grandfather moved to El Paso from Zacatecas, Mexico and whose grandfathers moved to El Paso to serve in the military at Ft. Bliss.  Mr. Gaudet worked for five years at a nationwide class action firm in Seattle, spent 7 years practicing law and teaching in Europe, and moved back to the United States with his wife and colleague, Karin Gaudet-Asmus.  He is currently working on cases nationwide including Seattle, California, Virginia, New York, and Washington, D.C.

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    A giant of the law, Clint Bamberger, passed away in Baltimore, Maryland on February 12, 2017, after a life-time of helping the poor, inspiring students, and living his faith through the practice of social justice, and just 2 days before his first Valentine’s Day alone in 64 years.

    I last saw Clint and his wife, Katharine, in their condo in Baltimore a couple of years ago. I knew he had been the first director, in the 1960s, of the nationwide Legal Services Corporation which provides legal services to the poor, appointed by President Johnson.

    Clint Bamberger and Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. on May 4, 2015 at the Bamberger residence in Baltimore, Maryland

    I did not know (as described in the Baltimore Sun article below) that Clint had argued the Brady case in the Supreme Court. It established the super-famous rule that prosecutors must disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense. That case actually helped one of my former clients, Edwin P. Wilson, who was prosecuted and put in jail for over 20 years after prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence contrary to the Brady decision. When this was disclosed years later, Edwin Wilson used the Brady decision to vacate his decision and get out of jail after over 20 years. We then represented Edwin Wilson in a lawsuit against the former prosecutors and complainant (many of whom had become federal judges despite having broken the Brady rule as prosecutors years earlier, and one is now a partner at a prestigious D.C. law firm). Our case was dismissed on the grounds of prosecutorial immunity although one person, Stanley Sporkin (former CIA executive director), could have been on the hook, as a defendant, since he was not a prosecutor but claims against him were voluntarily dismissed. So, this Brady decision is super-huge in importance and Clint apparently argued it before the Supreme Court. It would not be a decision today if it were not for Clint’s perseverance in taking the case.

    I did not know that Clint was the former Dean of Catholic University law school. I did not know that he helped set up legal aid services in South Africa around 1994, about a year after I had worked in South Africa.

    Clint spent his life teaching and helping the poor, driven by his Catholic faith, (aside from the years he worked at Piper Marbury as a partner on presumably corporate matters … but he told me that’s why they later picked him to head the Legal Services Corporation – because he was a buttoned-down partner at an established law firm. That firm, which was perhaps the most famous in Baltimore, has now merged into what is now DLA Piper.)

    Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.; Katherine Kelehar (Clint’s wife); and Clint Bamberger at the Bamberger residence on May 4, 2015 in Baltimore

    [Pictured: Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.; Katharine Kelhehar; Clint Bamberger; May 4, 2015; at the Bamberger home in Baltimore]

    When my wife (Karin Gaudet-Asmus) and I last visited Clint and his wife in their assisted living condo in or near Roland Park, about two years ago, Clint seemed frail but he could walk around with a little bit of trouble. I was worried about his health. But he was as gracious as ever. We were late so we unfortunately missed the food that had been available in the dining hall. I believe his wife, Katharine, made something at the spur of the moment. They were kind to entertain us as visitors and share family news and discuss social justice and events which, at the time, involved the riots in Baltimore for which Karin and I served as legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild. I always found Clint inspiring and full of integrity.

    The article, below, says Clint’s wife, Katharine, passed away in December 2016. That is very sad. In 2015, she seemed much younger and healthier when we last saw them together; she helped him walk and get around; and she advised him to take it easy although he was enthusiastic and vigorous as a host. Over the past several days, before his passing, I can only imagine that he might have had tremendous grief in anticipating his first Valentine’s Day alone in over 64 years.

    In a visit around 2001 or 2001 to Clint and Katharine’s previous condo at the Inner Harbor (which, I think, the father of my high school classmate, Leo D’Aleo, had built), while I was in law school and figuring out where to move to make a difference, I remember Clint told me that Baltimore was a “dying city” and advised me not to return. I was hoping for some links to class action lawyers or social justice lawyers in Baltimore. But I took his words to heart. I looked into some options in Baltimore but never heard back, e.g. from the Angelos law firm. Unlike defense firms, plaintiff’s and social justice firms do not recruit at top law schools across the country. I was offered a summer position at Piper Marbury (where Clint was once a partner int he 1960s, now called DLA Piper) but I did not want to defend Microsoft against antitrust suits, etc., so I turned it down. In retrospect, maybe I should have looked harder into returning to Baltimore. The fact that it was a “dying city” was no reason not to return. If anything, it might indicate there was an even greater need for new lawyers who, in the mold of Clint, could help the vulnerable and dispossessed.

    When I entered the law profession, people like Clint and Jack Greenberg (former dean of my undergraduate college at Columbia University) are what I had in mind. They are what I expected from the profession – changing the world, helping the poor and vulnerable. They are the lights of our profession. Sadly, since becoming a lawyer, I have not met very many lawyers like them, with the same devotion, understanding of real people’s troubles, concern for the world, empathy, ambition to do better for everyone, drive, sense of camaraderie with like-minded spirits. I hope I can remember to follow the example set by Clint and try to carry a small piece of the torch.

    Thank you, Michael Susko, for introducing me to him.  I am glad you got to know him through the Catholic church in Baltimore, a place that nourished both of you in your faith to care for others and help the vulnerable as a way of life. This example of Clint’s life is the strongest testament to the immense power that faith can have if one actually lives out one’s beliefs.   -Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.

    Karin Gaudet-Asmus; Katherine Kelehar; and Clint Bamberger at the Bamberger residence on May 4, 2015 in Baltimore. Around this time, Karin and Robert served as legal observers for the National Lawyers Guild in Baltimore during the time of unrest

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    Women are sold like cows in India to be brides, victims of human trafficking. Read more and watch a 30-minute video: http://tinyurl.com/jmqj6r4. Robert Gaudet’s colleague in civil rights litigation, Harish, says girls are drowned in water at birth by midwives in parts of India.  They are not cherished.  To the contrary, in parts of India, people give condolences rather than congratulations when a female child is born.  Help us investigate and make a documentary about these injustices. Harish can introduce an interested filmmaker to midwives who will admit to these practices and can be filmed. Contact this firm, RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC, if you are interested in doing something about these grave human rights violations that should trouble anyone with a conscience.  Baby girls do not deserve to be scorned and murdered simply because of their gender. Serious inquiries only, please.  Thanks to Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.’s mother, Barbara Gaudet, for bringing this 30-minute video to his attention.

    screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-2-59-14-am

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    Today, Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. secured a default judgment against Defendant John L. Henry.  The clerk of the federal court in Nebraska issued the judgment pursuant to a motion filed by Mr. Gaudet and his co counsel, Dallas lawyer J. Hamilton McMenamy.  The judgment was rendered on behalf of the Estate of Joyce Petersen, a now-deceased widow who was cheated out of $150,000 that she loaned to Nebraska resident John Henry under a Promissory Note that promised repayment within 2 years plus interest. Mr. Henry never paid back a dime.

    Mssrs. Gaudet and Hamilton will continue to prosecute the lawsuit against remaining defendants including William E. Bitters, the financial advisor who cajoled Ms. Petersen into taking money out of a safe annuity and loaning it to Mr.  Henry, and his partner, Robert Boland.  Mssrs. Gaudet and Hamilton recently drafted an Amended Complaint with RICO claims against these defendants who similarly advised another person, Mr. Nelson, to loan money to the same John L. Henry. Mr. Nelson never got his money back either.  Mr. Gaudet is admitted pro hac vice in federal court in Nebraska.

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