Better than summer politics


We are in the mid-summer doldrums as far as Oregon politics. What little news there is mostly boring. It would appear that most of the politicos are resting up for the big fight that is anticipated over the referral of House Bill 49 which seeks to gut the hard won safeguards of Measure 37 — the requirement that the government pay for the taking of the use of your property or refrain from the taking.

But there is other news and sometimes it is more interesting and a lot more fun than summer politics. For instance, there is a relatively new scam going around in which a titular collection company sends a collection notice to an elderly person demanding payment of a fictitious bill.

The scam assumes that 1) the elderly person may not remember the bill, and 2) will be frightened by the threat of being sued. The bill is usually small enough that the victim would rather pay than fight.

Just such a bill landed on my brother’s desk, addressed to my father. My father died twenty years ago and is buried just outside our hometown of Miles City, MT. These are important facts to remember as you read the response penned by my brother.

“Dear Sir or Madam:

“In regard to your recent letter to Dewey Huss concerning the alleged $189.13 that you claim he owes for some unspecified reason, I have not been able to speak with Dewey, personally, in regard to this matter and don’t expect to able to do so for an extended period. However, I am supremely confident that he will not pay this bill. In fact, about 20 years ago he left his employment and has not paid a single bill since that time. I don’t expect he would treat your fraudulent claim any differently.

“If you believe you are legally entitled to recover the alleged sum from Dewey, you are going to have to sue him. I will not represent Dewey in any such proceedings because I am certain he will not pay my bill either, nor will he cooperate in his defense. I will not accept service of process for him, so you will have to serve him personally. To the best of my knowledge he is on a small tract of land about ½ mile south of Miles City. He never comes to town anymore, he does not have a phone, and he does not accept mail. The Post Office quit delivering mail to him many, many years ago. The letter you sent him was addressed to my law office, but this is no longer Dewey’s address. I am sure that if you contact the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, they could quickly track down his whereabouts. The last person that had any dealings with him, as far as I know, is a gentleman in town named Todd Stevenson, who sold him some rock for his land. I will copy Mr. Stevenson with this letter so he will be aware that you may be contacting him.

(Mr. Stevenson is the owner of the local mortuary who arranged for my father’s burial and the rock referenced in the letter is his headstone.)

“If you speak to Dewey, will you have him contact me immediately as there are a number of items of concern that I need to discuss with him. I would not be surprised if he does not speak to you as he has remained incommunicado with his wife and children for more than 20 years.

“Please don’t send me any more of Dewey’s duns to this address. I simply cannot do business with him anymore. If your client did business with him in the last 20 years, they were complete fools for doing so and were only deluding themselves if they thought he was going to pay.

“Good luck in your future collection efforts. If you are successful in recovering from Dewey, I may be interested in referring some client accounts to you for collection.

Yours sincerely,”

Who says lawyers don’t have a sense of humor? My brother, my sister and I are all lawyers, as was my father. We all learned this bizarre sense of humor from my father and regularly practice it on friends and family — particularly during the summer doldrums. Nobody would enjoy my brother’s response more than my father.