Attorney Marc Matthews Interviewed by ABC Action News regarding lawsuit against Lucky Dog Day Care

A family is heartbroken after their 4-year-old French Bulldog, Porscia, died of a heat stroke at Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort of South Tampa.

The grieving pet owner is filing lawsuit against Lucky Dog Day Care. Along with her attorney, Marc Matthews, they hope to raise awareness about the laws surrounding pets.

Learn more by watching the interview below.

Can Bankruptcy Help with Past-Due HOA Fees?

The short answer is yes! Often times when dealing with mounting homeowner’s fees, you may feel there is no available option to remedy the situation. The bills continue to pile and fees add up with no end in sight. However, there are several options available to you with respect to alleviating some of this financial strain.

Florida law permits HOAs to impose a lien upon a property to secure payment. In Florida, under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can potentially strip off your HOA lien if the property is worth less than the amount you owe on your mortgage. While filing for bankruptcy may eliminate past due amounts, you will be responsible for paying current amounts as they become due after you file your bankruptcy case if you wish to retain the property. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may also give you an opportunity to restructure past amounts due if you wish. To further understand your legal options it is best to discuss your particular case with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

For more information on how bankruptcy can help with past-due HOA fees, contact the bankruptcy lawyers at McIntyre Thanasides today.

What You Need to Know About Airbag Recalls in Florida

While airbags are designed to save lives and reduce injuries, a faulty airbag can do far more harm than good.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a massive airbag recall warning for more than 7.8 million vehicles.  The airbag recall targets mechanisms supplied by Takata, Inc., a Japanese auto parts manufacturer, and includes vehicles from major American and Japanese automakers, as well as German manufacturer, BMW.   According to federal officials, the inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, sending sharp metal fragments and other shrapnel into the faces and necks of accident victims in the event of a car crash. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem with the most recent fatality involving an Orlando woman on September 29th.

The NHTSA believes humidity plays a role in causing airbag malfunctions as it may trigger the chemical propellant responsible for airbag deployment.  Automakers plan to recall additional models in high-humidity states, such as Florida, in an effort to prevent serious accidents of personal injury or wrongful death as further testing is conducted.  Safety officials are urging drivers to act immediately to fix vehicles with potential airbag defects, as the consequences of delaying can be fatal.  The issue is serious enough that in circumstances where a replacement airbag is not available for one of the affected vehicles, dealerships have begun disabling airbags entirely until a replacement can be installed.

Vehicles affected by the recall include:

  • More than 600,000 BMW vehicles including 3-series sedans, coupes, and wagons as well as M3 convertibles and coupes;
  • More than 370,000 Chrysler vehicles including Dodge Durango SUVs and Ram pickups;
  • More than 58,000 Ford vehicles including the Ranger and Mustang;
  • More than 160,000 General Motors vehicles including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac models;
  • More than 5 million Honda vehicles including the Civic, Accord, CR-V, and Acura RL, TL and MDX;
  • More than 64,000 Mazda vehicles including the Mazda6 and RX-8;
  • More than 11,000 Mitsubishi vehicles including the Lancer and Raider;
  • More than 690,000 Nissan/Infiniti vehicles including the Maxima and Infiniti QX4;
  • More than 17,500 Subaru vehicles including the Legacy, Outback and Baja; and
  • More than 870,000 Toyota/Lexus vehicles including the Lexus SC, Corolla and Toyota Tundra pickups.

To determine whether your car is included in the airbag recall, visit http://www.safercar.gov/ and enter your vehicle’s VIN number. If you’re subject to a recall, you will see notifications and receive up-to-date information there.  If you or someone you know has a case involving a defective airbag or other defective product, please contact our Personal Injury lawyers today.

Zombie Foreclosures Continue to Haunt Florida

One in five homes in the foreclosure process are zombies, according to RealtyTrac which says that Florida leads the list with roughly 55,000 homes that are abandoned by their owners and in a state of legal limbo.  Despite economic recovery in much of the nation, the foreclosure issue is not going away any time soon.  What do zombies mean if you are looking to list your property?  Most likely if there is one on your street, you will not be able to sell your home.  If you do, you’ll get much less than you were hoping for due to the proximity of the zombie foreclosure.  Zombie foreclosures not only lower property values of surrounding homes, but they also lead to lost property tax revenue – a double whammy for anyone considering listing a real estate property.

RealtyTrac’s most recent data on zombie foreclosures also reported that about 21 percent of the 141,406 total foreclosures reported in Q2 were of the zombie variety.  What makes a foreclosure a zombie?  This type of foreclosure occurs when a lender goes through all the steps of a foreclosure, but fails to complete the last step of registering the deed to move title from the borrower to the lender.  The owner then deserts the property leaving it abandoned which leads to an unkempt eyesore, making the surrounding properties less appealing.

One of the reasons that Florida is on the top of this list is because it is a judicial foreclosure state.  That means that in order to foreclose on a property a bank must go through the court process which takes a long time.   While new laws set out to protect borrowers and prevent servicers from reacting to foreclosures at the same rate they typically would, there are other ways service providers can provide assistance to borrowers while working directly with their business partners to prevent such a high vacancy rate.

Working with a qualified lawyer is the first step you should take if you are facing a foreclosure or currently involved in one.  A well informed homeowner can be counseled by a foreclosure attorney who can provide guidance in terms of what options are available to you and communicate with involved parties to find the best resolution and reduce the time period of the foreclosure sale right of redemption.  In some cases, this time period can be shortened from six months to as little as 30 days.

Servicers may also work directly with a lawyer who will contact the borrower.  For example, when a company has made an attempt to serve the borrower papers and finds the property to be vacant, they are often times legally required to search for the borrower.   This process will not eliminate zombie foreclosures, but does help expedite the foreclosure or proceed to workout.  By enlisting the help of an attorney from the start, you can be proactive and address the issue before vacancies increase and prevent zombie foreclosures from spreading.

If you find you are the victim of a zombie foreclosure, there may be a number of remedies available to you. Contact the Tampa foreclosure attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. today.

Development Extension Opportunities Through December 2014

The Florida legislature passed numerous bills over the last several years, giving property owners the right to obtain two-year extensions for certain types of development permits simply by sending a letter to the permitting agency by a specific deadline. This year the Florida legislature passed CS/HB 7023, which contains provisions very similar to the bills previously passed.  This new two-year extension is somewhat limited in its applicability, but presents an opportunity for projects that may have missed past extensions or were recently approved.

The statutory extension applies to those enumerated permits, including local government-issued development orders and building permits as well as permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, with an expiration date between January 1, 2014 and January 1, 2016. It is in addition to any existing permit extensions, provided that the total permit extension time does not exceed a total of four years.  For example, if you used a previously enacted bill to extend the expiration of a permit by a total of four years, then you will not be able to apply for a further extension.

In order to exercise the right to a permit extension under CS/HB 7023, the property owner must give written notice to the authorizing agency by no later than December 31, 2014. The letter must identify the specific permit or authorization for which the extension is for and the anticipated timeframe for the permit or authorization.

It is important to act quickly due to the impending deadline.  Those who are eligible should review all of their existing permits to see if an extension is authorized and begin making the required notifications to the appropriate agencies.

If you would like to take advantage of the filing extension and wish to discuss your options prior to conducting notifications, contact Blake Bringgold at 813.899.6059 or blake@mcintyrefirm.com.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Save Your House

One of the first questions that anyone thinking about bankruptcy asks is “Can I keep my home?” This is a concern for anyone facing foreclosure, and even more of a concern for those with school-age children who might be worried about moving into a different school district.

Fortunately, bankruptcy law has a number of provisions that are designed to keep people in their existing homes. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in particular, is a good choice for many people seeking to stay in their home. Under Chapter 13, the person in bankruptcy, with the help of a bankruptcy trustee and the approval of the bankruptcy court, sets up a payment plan, typically lasting three to five years, during which time the person pays what he or she can to all creditors. This lower payment may leave enough in the person’s budget to get caught up on late mortgage payments (which are said to be “in arrears” until paid off).

Another advantage of bankruptcy is that upon filing a bankruptcy petition, any foreclosure action by a bank is automatically stayed (suspended) until the bankruptcy process is completed (or until the bank gets permission from the bankruptcy court).

As with any legal action, it is possible to represent yourself in court without a lawyer, but because of the complexities of the bankruptcy process, this is not a wise choice. The process is so complex, in fact, that the U.S. court system has dedicated bankruptcy judges which handle no other types of cases.

Chapter 13 relief is available to anyone with less than $360,475 in unsecured debts (such as credit cards) and less than $1,081,400 in secured debts (such as houses and cars). There are a number of other requirements, such as having not recently gone through bankruptcy or recently filing for bankruptcy but having the petition dismissed by the court.

Bankruptcy is not for everyone who is facing financial hardship, and Chapter 13 might not be the best bankruptcy choice, depending on an individual’s situation. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can fully assess a person’s debts and overall financial situation and help determine what approach is best-as well as navigating the complex bankruptcy process.

How Divorce Affects Your Taxes

Divorce brings change, some expected and some surprising. From setting up a single residence to determining how past assets are split, these changes can be difficult and time consuming. While attempting to manage the changes tied to divorce, be sure to keep the following tax implications in mind.

Filing Status – Married v. Single

If the divorce decree is not received by year’s end, the correct filing status is married. This is true even when separated the entire year. Within this status, there are two options: married filing jointly or married filing separately. Each has tax rate and liability differences. Although those filing as married filing jointly may have a lower combined tax, both are liable for any taxes due.

However, if the final decree of divorce is obtained before the end of the year the filing status should be listed as single. As a result, a former spouse’s deduction cannot be claimed even if the divorce decree is obtained at the end of the year and full support was provided to the former spouse.

Although the losses cannot be recouped, there is potential to file as Head of Household. If more than half the cost of keeping up a home and an unmarried status can be claimed the last day of the year, you may qualify. This status allows a higher standard deduction and lower tax rate along with the potential to claim certain credits.

Credits and Deductions

When filing requirements for Head of Household status are fulfilled, both the dependent care credit and the earned income credit may also apply. Additionally, if children can be claimed as dependents, you may qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credits.

The IRS also allows a number of deductions including alimony and certain individual retirement contributions.

Property Considerations

Property transfers between spouses are generally tax free. If the property is sold, a portion of capital gains can remain tax free. However, if the limit is exceeded, taxes are due. It is important to be aware that some assets carry automatic tax liabilities and that property considerations extend far beyond a family home in the eyes of the IRS. Assets such as retirement plans and health savings accounts are also reviewed in this group.

Determining the tax implications of a divorce can be difficult, to ensure your legal rights are protected contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

Delays in Foreclosure Processing Times Can Be Beneficial To Homeowners

Back in 2007, with the country in the grips of the housing crisis, the average foreclosure process took 253 days from beginning to end, just over eight months. As 2012 kicks off, a new report from LPS Applied Analytics puts the average time from the first missed mortgage payment to the final foreclosure auction at 674 days.

In some areas of the country, foreclosure processing delays are even more pronounced. In Florida, the average foreclosure takes 1,027 days, just shy of three years. Why, you may ask? One of the top reasons is that homeowners are increasingly turning to Tampa foreclosure defense lawyers and successfully fighting foreclosure.

Delays Chalked Up To Those Challenging Foreclosure

In just four years, the average time it takes to foreclose on a home has more than doubled. This means more homeowners facing foreclosure at the hands of lenders are staying in their homes longer. Experts explain this trend as an outgrowth of a heightened willingness to challenge foreclosure proceedings.

Taking legal action can delay, or prevent, foreclosure in a number of ways. Challenging your bank’s actions (such as the improper “robo-signing” many lenders engaged in that first came to light in 2010), waiting to file paperwork until the deadline, submitting legal requests that your lender produce original paperwork, and even declaring bankruptcy can all help keep you in your home.

For many homeowners, the ultimate goal is to dig out of a hole and get their homes back free and clear. However, for others, just staying in their homes a little longer can be a huge financial benefit: according to the LPS study, almost 40 percent of homeowners currently in default have not made a payment in at least two years.

Contact a Florida Attorney to Learn More

If you are facing the threat of foreclosure, there are many options potentially at your disposal. Speak to an attorney today to find out how you can benefit from challenging foreclosure.