Thursday, September 30, 2010

Come On, Arrest That Man!

I've been studying crazy people, ordinary people, people like you and me. Three times a year I sort through a few hundred court decisions that involve banks and choose about seventy to mention in an encyclopedia-like service called the Banking Law Digest.

One of the cases I couldn't discard involved a visually-impaired fellow named John who enjoyed visiting Ginger in her Philadelphia apartment. Ginger described herself as "an expert at providing personal, hands-on service to individual customers in private sessions at a set rate." In more than 34 sessions over 9 months, she was a great help to our anti-hero.

Then tragedy struck. With the help of his mother's better eyes, our friend reviewed his Discover card receipts and statements and discovered that on 11 occasions dear Ginger had overcharged him. He had thought he was paying between $350 and $700 for each therapy session, but she had tricked him into signing 10 receipts for $1,100 and one for $1,600. No problem with the other sessions, conceded John, although the judge footnoted a bit of concern: "The record does not reveal how one would know whether the events of any individual session...were worth $375 or $750. [John] is definite about one thing, though: [he] is not claiming...that [Ginger] breached a contract by failing to up to snuff...[and he] is not claiming that [her] technique did not justify her price."

No prude and no slouch, and feeling put-upon, John disputed the charges with his credit card company. Ginger produced the signed receipts, along with a copy of the contract John had signed -- for "yoga and pilates services." John sued Discover anyway. Why? Because Discover, he claimed, had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to consider his blindness when investigating his fraud claim.

Poor blind John. Philadelphia not being Las Vegas, the judge didn't look kindly on his walking into court to enforce a credit card contract he had violated by using his credit card to pay for illegal services. Besides, Discover offered a 24-7 telephone number designed to allow folks with vision impairments to check on their account charges.

"You're kidding me, aren't you?" asks Virginia. "He didn't really sue, did he?"

Twice. Not one to give up, he decided to "seek redress from Ginger directly" and hailed her into the Court of Common Pleas.

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