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The Time I helped a WWII Veteran Avoid Eviction

Pro Se Clinic Helps WWII Veteran and Family Avoid Eviction

By: Diane Roth

FBA-Inland Empire Review, Issue 16, Spring, 2015

A World War II veteran, his wife, and 15-year old dependent granddaughter can stay in their home thanks to our Pro Se Clinic volunteers.

WWII veteran Mr. A of Hesperia called PSLC for help when he received a foreclosure notice from his bank. He had gotten behind on his payments and was days away from losing his home. He and his wife were disabled and physically unable to make it to the court or the clinic in Riverside. We thought we would be unable to help until volunteer attorneys Manfred Schroer of Grand Terrace and Dwight Kealy of Temecula stepped up and worked out a cooperative arrangement to help the veteran obtain Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

“You think you know everything about a person when you’ve collected the information necessary to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy,” Mr. Kealy said. “This is what I thought until a 15-year-old young woman came in, hugged the old veteran, and said, ‘Hi Dad.’ When she left the room, I looked up from the documents that I thought contained all of the veteran’s information, and asked, ‘So, you have a dependent?’ it turns out that the girl is their granddaughter who has lived with them since she was 14 months old.”

The morning 341(a) Creditor Meeting consisted of a conference cal with Mr. Schroer and the trustee’s attorney in Riverside and Mr. Kealy at the veteran’s house with the clients and a notary. Mr. Kealy then collected the notarized documents and delivered them to the trustee’s attorney prior to the confirmation hearing. The plan is unusual and creative; the trustee’s attorney said it was the first time she had recommended confirmation in a situation like this. But the plan was confirmed.

“I know they don’t make TV shows about bankruptcy court,” Mr. Kealy said. “But ‘plan confirmed’ to a new bankruptcy attorney sounds like ‘not guilty’ to a defense attorney. It means that the veteran, his wife, and 15-year-old granddaughter would be able to continue living in their house together.”

This was Dwight’s first bankruptcy case and his first court appearance, having been sworn in this year. Manfred is a seasoned bankruptcy attorney who’s our most dependeable and big-hearted volunteer (more than 200 hours donated to the clinic in 2012). They are now a mutual admiration society. As Dwight says:

“Most of you might think that the actual practice of law is not all that exciting, but it can be. Volunteering with PLSC in the past months has given me the opportunity to save a WWII veteran and his family from eviction, help a mother get custody of her children, and help others start a new life after a difficult marriage. Volunteering at PLSC also gives you the opportunity to surround yourself with people who want to help other people. As a new attorney, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with experienced volunteer attorneys like Manfred Schroer who are willing both to help me learn the practice of law and to give me examples of using the law to help others.”

This is not the usual case, as we don’t ordinarily make house calls. But your contributions of just a few hours in the clinic can help keep a couple in their 80’s from becoming homeless or help a disabled person get social security benefits. We are most in need of volunteers on the District Court side, primarily to advise litigants on procedural matters. No formal sign-up procedure. Just stop by after your court appearance for an hour or two.

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