Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lawyer Drama

Once upon a time in the Great State of Kuwait there lived a wanna-be lawyer who had a big name, a lot of money and didn't know what to do with it all.  So, she used her cousin's name to open up a law firm where she would practice under the guise of being a real lawyer.  Not.

Drama-lawyer was so greedy that she didn't pay her employees.  Not the lawyers that she recruited from Egypt, supposedly for "training" in Kuwait (but on visitor visas so that she could get rid of them in less than 100 days).  Not the European law assistant who helped Drama-lawyer write her legal papers for law school.  Not the ladies who served coffee and substituted as maids in her home.  No one got paid.

That's the background to our story.

Moving forward - this is the "lawyer" that I chose to assist me in my tenancy case.  For a fee of 600KD (non-refundable regardless of if I fire her or not) plus 10% of whatever settlement money I was awarded, she would handle my case.  But alas, she wasn't handling it at all.  She had given most of the responsibility to the law assistant - who quickly got smart and moved on.  Once that happened, it was up to the non-paid Egyptian lawyer-trainees who did very little.

I wised up when several things happened.

  1. She filed the case in the wrong court. (Shes not a real lawyer. How would she know?)
  2. After repeated requests, she never provided copies of the FIVE police reports I should have.
  3. During several meetings with Not-Lawyer, she never provided me with a status, a plan of action, or anything directly related to my case.  She wanted to talk about her personal life and the personal family case she has been working on.  
  4. She emphatically stated almost every time I went to see her that I might not get anything.  (Ok then, FIGHT for me!  That's why I'm paying  you!)
  5. I went to court.  Found an Egyptian lawyer representing me who didn't know what the status of my case was and who I had never seen before.
  6. DL then called me, shouted at me for having attended court with a translator, who she believed was another legal representative.  

During her temper tantrum on the phone she said emphatically (shouting) that if I didn't want to continue with her, pay the final amount due and be done with it.  Ok fine.  Stop shouting at the client, biotch.  (I have bitch-slapped her in my mind so many many many times....)

So, I called her office to make an appointment with her to settle and sign a release.  She was "too busy" to see me.  Her cousin would see me.  On the day of the appointment, cousin was too busy to see me.  I would be seen by yet another lawyer - Kuwaiti this time. Fine.

I brought Bunny, who is not only level-headed when he wants to be, but also a firey BBB (Big Bad Bedouin) when he gets riled.  Kind of like gettin my Irish up.  Bunny also worked as an interpreter with the Brits in Iraq so he's been trained at determining when people are lying or something is not right.

Bunny and I walked in.  There were 2 Kuwaiti lawyers (I presume they were lawyers... one was tall and flirt-able) in the office - apparently running interference.   No introductions.  There was only one chair for me and they asked Bunny to go outside.   (Why?  Was I going to be interrogated?  Were they planning something bad?)  "We don't need him.  We both speak English."  Uh... sooooo???  They kept asking me what my relationship with him was. (ha!  They must think I'm easily intimidated!!! ha ha ha.   Now I'm pissed and the fun hasn't even started yet.)  'Not your business.  Please get him a chair.'  No move to get a chair.  Time is passing and they are still asking him questions about his relationship to me.  I am DYING to blurt out, 'We are f-ing, ok?!  What do you want?!' (We're not and it would have only been for shock value.)  Still no chair.  I stand up next to Bunny and say, 'If he doesn't have a chair, I don't have a chair.'  They get him a chair.  In runs the Drama queen nutcase, screaming at Bunny, "Who are you?!  Give me your civil ID?  Give me your translator card!"  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Are we in court?  Who the PHUCK does she think she is?!  She thinks he's a translator?!  He's Kuwaiti in national dress.  WTF.

Wait.... wasn't she "too busy" to schedule an appointment with me?  Why was she there?

This drama all took place even before I knew who the 2 guys were.

Bunny is keeping his calm, but we are holding direct eye contact throughout this and we are both telling each other not to kill someone, using our super-power of telepathy (15 years of good friendship will get you there).

Anyways, we finally got Bunny a chair.  We all sat down.  I asked them who they were they answered only with first names.  I said, 'No, what is your family name?  I like to know who I am dealing with.'  They answered.  I know one of the guys' uncles, cousins, and other relatives.  ('Oh.  Say hello to your uncle, Jamal, for me.')   Ha.  The 2 guys were both decent, but working for a sociopath they have to pretend like they are on the side of someone who is well... unbalanced at the very least. Psychopathic, perhaps.

They started to say something argumentative-sounding and I cut in.  'Let me make this simple.  I'm here to pay you the final installment and to finish business with DL and her office.  I also want a release letter saying I don't owe you anything and  you don't owe me.'  (Seems simple, right? OMG!....)

Drama is running into and out of the office shouting at the top of her lungs about everything and nothing.  My head hurts.  I'm tired. My blood pressure is through the roof.  Can I just pay the money and go?  Bunny is about to blow. I'm about to blow.  I stuff Kleenex in my ears to stop the shrieking of the out-of-control banshee. (Hot lawyer dude sees me do it and sends me a knowing look.)  I say nothing.  I don't want to throw fuel on her temper tantrum.

Greedy wants more money....

On the 5th (or 6th - can't remember) time I went to the police station to file yet another report against my assmonkey former landlord;  I was with The Romanian and the legal assistant (who had become a friend) at the police station.  DL was on the phone with the legal assistant and DL asked where she was.   Assistant told her.  Drama's response was, "Ok. I'll stop on my way home."  She stopped at the station.  She went to the apartment with us and the police officer (as per the procedure).  She almost went over the steps leading down to the apartment because assmonkeys had removed the handrails.  Went back to the station.  She talked for about 45 minutes with the police officers - not about MY case, but about what schools they went to; and about HER.  Drama.  K, so on the way out, DL turns to The Romanian and says, "Oh, by the way, Desert Girl owes me 150 KD for me coming out to the police station."  Whaaaat?!  She never mentioned it to me. She thinks she can just drop that by telling my friend?!  It wasn't in the contract...

Back to the story....

So, the 2 Kuwaiti dude lawyers started talking about the 150 KD I supposedly owe them for her coming to the police station. Me:  'Please show me in the contract where I agreed to that.'  Then Bunny became the focal point.  Gee, for 2 guys who speak English and didn't need him, allofasudden, they be needing him!  Blah blah blah in Arabic (Drama was still screaming in the doorway - even though they shut the door once and she slammed it back open again.)  Bunny to me, "They say it is common practice and you should know about the price."  Tee hee. Really?  Then they should know about my 100 KD per hour consulting fee. It's common knowledge that I'm a business consultant.  I've been sitting there for an hour and a half.  Looks like THEY owe ME 150 KD.  Show me the contract. ....  Point taken.  I don't have to pay.

At least the 2 dudes have common sense (they're going to need it to figure out that they're not going to get paid...)

Drama runs out, runs back in again with a file.  Showing a photo of her former legal assistant (who I know and like and know that Drama queen is blatantly slandering).  Shoving her photo in front of Bunny, "Do you know this woman? Are you sure you don't know this woman?  Desert Girl was her friend.  They partied together...."  Now, what tha phuck?!  You are slandering a friend.  (Legal Assistant left because DL hadn't paid her in SIX MONTHS and then moved an Egyptian family into LA's accommodation.)  But now... you are slandering ME?  What party did I go to?  Why are  you telling this man that you know nothing about.  I'm your CLIENT, you witch!

Bunny to the rescue.

(Turning to the 2 dudes.)  Do you know who she is (turning to me)?  He then went on to tell him my entire history with Kuwait.  Says that he's known me since 1982 (true).  Tells them what I did for Kuwait.  Gulf war stories... etc...

There was really no need other than to piss off Drama.  Both of the dudes were already on my side.  I ask them in a quiet voice if they could please ask her to stop shouting that I had a headache.  I also kept making the sign for "move it along".  Take my money.  Please.  I want out.

Hot lawyer dude asked me why I didn't just leave the case with Drama - it is a simple case. I rolled my eyes at him.  'Does she treat all your clients the way she has treated me now? Does she shout at all her clients?  You witnessed it.  She's out of control.  I just want to get RID of her. I want peace.'

She made me sign 2 release forms - both different (stupid!!!  I can draw up better contracts than you ever will!).  She kept my legal file.  Whatever.  I could file a complaint, but F her.  I'm out.

Oh, just so that she understood that she is Drama Royalty (and I'm not), she got 2 dudes to tell me, "She is upset that you haven't shown her appreciation for all her hard work."  At that point, I could have just socked her one in the pie hole.  Really.  Just crossed her.  Bunny said he wanted to also.  Can you imagine?  After all that - she wanted ME to THANK HER?!  Go back to Hell.

Bunny (trained to interrogate prisoners, liars, and potential threats)  concluded that she is indeed a bigfatliar and needs psychological help.

So... now I have lawyer #3.  Fucktard former landlord is probably happy about this.  I don't care.  He has no morals (hung out with with Kim Jong Il if that says anything about his character or lack thereof).  I am seeing the case through because I do have morals and what they did to me (and probably to others like me living on their properties) was NOT RIGHT and NOT LEGAL.  If I only get 10 KD, it will be worth it.

This should be a made-for-Ramadan mini-series.  I hope a house falls on her.

30 March 2016 Update:

My new lawyer just called me to tell me that the case has been postponed for 2 months. The judge asked Drama Queen to provide him with (something - we don't know what) after new lawyer told the judge that I had fired Drama.

New lawyer is fantastic.  She immediately asked for police reports and is gathering evidence and has told me what her plan is for the next steps.

The judge may have understood why I fired Drama when, during the last hearing, I looked at Egyptian mandoob appointed by Drama to go to court and said to the judge, "Who is this guy?  I've never seen him before?  My lawyer isn't here.  This guy doesn't know anything about my case?!"  The judge speaks English and has good eye contact and I am always very polite to him and his colleagues.  Maybe he is understanding that I've had problems.

I hope the Drama Queen gets in trouble!


Anonymous said...

classic DG post - in all its 'i don't know whether to laugh or cry' moments.
i feel for you DG
living in q8, you can't make this sh*t up, you just live it year by year....

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you would stick around with her, even after the red flags or the unprofessionalism that you experienced with her the first time around! There are so many well reputed lawyers out there, so why choose someone young and who's unknown ?

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 9:57 -

The reasons I decided to continue to retain her was that it was an easy case and should I have fired her prior to the case being settled, I would still owe her 600 KD - and then have to pay yet another lawyer another case fee (in the range of 500 - 1000 KD, which I am sure is mere chump change to some, but I decided to wait for a while to see if she might get more professional).

"Someone young and unknown" - You ASSume, sir/maam. She is in her 50's, her name is on the office door, and she is from a reputed family with many lawyers in it. She also came recommended by a friend and as the friend was working at the firm, I felt comfortable in signing with them.

Now, should you or anyone else out there have a magical lawyers listing of reputed lawyers, perhaps with ratings please bring it on. Somebody start a Jenny's List!!! I have been here in Kuwait for 20 years and have worked for and with lawyers and people in the legal field during those 2 decades. To date, I have not seen such a magical listing.

Anonymous said...

Kuwait is synonymous with the word 'bootleg', because there are no 'systems' in the country anywhere and people can use Kuwait easily to scam others, to commit crimes to even drive without a license. Kuwait being a highly racist society, Kuwaitis more often then expected in such a small society commit crimes and seem to feel that they are above the law. Bottom-line, you got scammed and although there were red flags, for the reasons you stated, it didn't occur to you that this was possible. But you should know more than most foreigners that the 'prominent' name of a Kuwaiti family means nothing when you are speaking about criminal activity. They need to enforce their laws and structure their society in Kuwait across the board.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 11:07 -

My advice to ANYONE going to a "lawyer" in Kuwait is to ask for their lawyer card from the Kuwait Society of Lawyers. This is the only official ID they have. I didn't know about that when I started all this mess. If a lawyer asks for a copy of your civil ID, ask them for a copy of their lawyer's card.

In my case, as she came from a referral working in the same office, I was told that she was a lawyer and took it at face value. I should not have.

You're right- names mean nothing in Kuwait. In this case, she has a good name. I know her family members. But alas, every family has a black sheep.

Melissa Falcao said...

Good Luck! And kudos for standing up for what's right, irrespective of all these physical, mental and financial hurdles. Sending you positive energy for the best of outcomes! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

I'm new to Kuwait and have read of a couple of stories about landlords/ building managers who play punk & refused return of deposit or hit tenants up with unwarranted costs. Is this something you have heard of or experienced?