This is not an easy note to write.
If you’re receiving this message we probably have a connection that goes back to some of my most treasured memories: Co-op City (P.S. 160, I.S. 180, Truman H.S.), Camp Incarnation (aka ECCC), Colgate University, Beta Theta Pi, Catholic University Law School, and jobs in NYC and DC,. Although I have not been in touch with many of you recently, everyone single person receiving this message is dear to me in ways it is difficult to express.
But I am reaching out because my family and I need your help.
As some of you know, we had a kitchen fire in our apartment on the morning of January 3, 2014.
It all started with a Dutch baby.
Justine was at work, and the girls and I tried a new recipe -- dutch baby. It was delicious. But it was a snow day, and the girls were eager to get out sledding, so off we went. Two hours later I got a call from Justine saying there had been a fire in our apartment.
We lost lots of stuff: Christmas gifts, furniture, bookshelves, carpets, and lots of items in our kitchen.
We were homeless for two weeks due to the fire and water damage. But thanks to the generous assistance from Justine’s church, and our families, friends, and work colleagues, we made due. Eventually we found a place 3 blocks away, still in the girl’s school district. Checks arrived in the mail and neighbors showed up with old pots and pans.
We had found a new home, and we thought we had closed this scary chapter in our lives. We were disoriented, but thankful.
Our Big Mistake
Unfortunately, we didn’t have renter's insurance. Our landlord did not require we have it. And we didn’t think we needed it, had never had it in over 20 years of renting. The only thing of value we owned was irreplaceable -- photographs.
But on December 22, 2015 we were sued by our old landlord’s insurance company, Harford Mutual Insurance Company for $104,959.58 in damages.
We were stunned. Why us? Suits of this type are rare - in fact, some states don’t allow them.
We don’t have that kind of money. We were faced with financial ruin. So we lawyered up. What choice did we have?
After enduring 12 months of emotional turmoil caused by threats, foot-dragging, and bad faith negotiations we have finally come close to putting an end this unfair, and costly fishing expedition from Harford Mutual - a company with nearly $500,000,000 in assets. .
We have settled the case for $30,000. This amount makes no difference to Harford’s bottom line. It’s a rounding error to them. But not to us. It has cost us $16,000+ in legal fees.
We simply can't face down this $46,000 debt alone. We don't have any savings. We don’t own a home. And our incomes can’t possibly cover this debt. .
How you can help
We’ve launched a fundraising campaign on GoGetFunding.com and hope you will contribute.
As part of our settlement agreement, we are forced to make a “good faith” 10% down payment on the settlement amount of $3,000. It is due on January 15, 2017.
We are asking for a donation of $250.00 to help us make this payment. If we do not come up with the money, we will default on our agreement and owe Harford Mutual $60,000.
Don’t worry if you cannot afford to contribute this much all at once. Because this campaign will be open-ended, we will gladly accept whatever you can contribute on a monthly basis.
We are embarrassed -- but thankful to all of you who told us about your own mishaps -- and we're more embarrassed to say, we need your help.
We’ve tried to keep this letter as brief as possible, but some of you may have some unanswered questions which we’re happy to answer. Drop us a line at:
[email protected], or cell 202-841-4485.
[email protected], cell 202-309-0887
Thanks in advance for your generosity.