Viewpoint: Fleecing the unwary

Beware of lawyers on TV. You’ve seen the ads. They are so concerned about your problem or injuries; after all, they tell you, they’ve been there, too. Just come see us, and we’ll help you get your just compensation.

Oh, really? Ask Geraldine Kilgore what kind of help she received. At the age of 66, she stands to lose her house and be put out on the street with nowhere to go.

Her problems began in 2001. On Feb. 24 that year, she went to a discount store at 3134 11th St. In the parking lot, Kilgore slipped on a patch of ice and fell. She suffered a broken arm.

The fire department ambulance was summoned and took her to SwedishAmerican Hospital, where she was treated in the emergency room.

Later, she retained one of those “compassionate” attorneys and brought suit against the discount store to get compensation for her injuries.

Kilgore says she never heard anything from the attorneys about court dates or the progress of the litigation. It wasn’t until June 30 of this year that she learned the attorney she had hired filed a lawsuit against the wrong store.

He had brought an action against the chain’s store at 1233 Sandy Hollow Rd. instead of the store on 11th Street. That stalled everything and threw the case into a legal snarl.

The filing ultimately was amended to include the correct address. Kilgore still has seen no compensation for her injuries, and the new case is still in court.

During the period after the fall, Kilgore’s daughter and her boyfriend were living at Kilgore’s home. They sought out another attorney and told him that Kilgore had been loaned $3,100 by them to pay her real estate taxes. They claimed she had not repaid them.

The attorney had worked out an agreement with the first law firm that the amount would be paid. Nonetheless, a lien was filed against Kilgore’s property.

Now she has been told the amount due is $3,400, and she has only a few days to make payment, or the title to her house will be turned over to her daughter’s boyfriend.

Enough to make a mother proud, right? Kilgore is forced to hire yet another attorney and pay from her meager funds in an effort to hang on to her house.

The deadline for payment comes up this week, and the outcome of this situation remains unknown.

As if all this is not enough, she continues to fight for a share of her husband’s pension funds. He is a retiree from Rockford Products Corp.

The government has told her that her husband is deceased. Kilgore says he must be the most active corpse on record because he recently drove past her house, and she looked him square in the face. No mistake.

The U.S. Labor Department has done little to assist her, and neither have the other possible sources of help she has contacted. That money would come in very handy about now.

Kilgore can’t understand why all this is happening to her. She says she has done nothing to deserve it. The record would seem to support that claim.

Like a great many others hereabouts, she thought she would get justice in the courts, only to learn the courts no longer are run to serve the people. Greed is in there in a big way. Unethical people are another factor.

The moral of the story is, don’t get involved with the court system in Winnebago County.

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