THE LEGAL Steve Duhl 
Friday, April 8, 2011, 08:42 AM
Posted by Administrator
My friend, Bruce, told me yesterday that he got a "legal letter" from his business' contractor, Bob's, son. I assumed the son is a lawyer. I told him that I did not know what a "legal letter" was. Bruce is from New York and it could have been that they have "legal letters" in New York but, I doubted it.

It turned out that the "legal letter" was just a letter that his other lawyer friend, Barbara, told Bruce that he had better respond to or else he would be admitting that what Bob's lawyer-son wrote was true. The "legal letter" theory...would come into evidence at whatever trial was eventually had on whatever lawsuit one or the other of them filed and the proponent of the letter could ask the witness identifying it (presumably, Bob) "Now, daddy, did you receive a response to this letter?"

The answer would be "No" and the lawyer/son could argue ...when it was the time in the trial for argument... that the non-answer to the "legal letter" amounted to an admission that everything the letter said was true. In the case of this "legal letter", the admitted/supposed "truth" would be that Bruce owed Bob a fistfull of money for construction work...that Bruce thought he had already overpaid for...based upon a handshake and the alleged statement from Bruce "I'll pay you the money even though I don't owe you a penny."

Credit card companies and collection agencies frequently base their lawsuits on the idea: WE SENT YOU A STATEMENT OF WHAT YOU OWED AND YOU DIDN'T WRITE US AND TELL US WE WERE WRONG. A cause of action like this is called "Account Stated". I send people letters sometimes saying, FOR EXAMPLE "if you don't send me all of the "lease" papers within the next ten days, I will be forced to conclude that you don't have any papers and that your claim agianst my client is specious and without foundation." Typically, I get a big envelope stuffed with papers in support of their claim a few days later.

I don't know whether you have to respond to a letter making questionable claims if you've already told the sender that their claim is crap. If you feel a need to respond, keep it short. The more you say, the more likely it will be that you wil give them ammunition to use against you in a lawsuit. Whatever you send out, keep a copy. And, to avoid having to respond to letter after letter after letter, write something like this:

"I deny what you are claiming. Take notice that in the future, I am going to throw all correspondence from you in the garbage."

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