Whether it’s with a friend, a coworker or a family member, everyone is bound to have disagreements sooner or later. The judges of “Hot Bench” specialize in resolving these types of misunderstandings. “Hot Bench” judges Tanya Acker, Michael Corriero and Patricia DiMango spoke to CBS Local about what we can expect on the next few episodes of the show.
Judge Acker, we all, sooner or later, come into sort of financial disagreement, even with the closest of our friends. Can you tell us about the case you preside over on Wednesday’s episode?
Tanya Acker: You nailed it. We’re all in situations where sometimes we’ve needed things from friends, or our friends need things from us. That’s this case. One of our litigants couldn’t afford to go see his first grandchild, so he had a good friend who made that possible. What is at issue is whether or not making that possible was as a loan or a gift. In this case, here are two friends who did things for one another. The person who received the money was a writer, he wrote a blog where he used to write nice things about his friend. So the issue is, how do you quantify this? Is it a loan? When do you something nice for somebody, and if it’s someone that’s close to you, how do you protect yourself? What do you do to make sure you’re not taken advantage of and make sure you can preserve that relationship? It’s a lot. And it’s a common, recurring theme in a lot of our cases, how to manage a friendship when you insert business into it. It can get messy.
Michael, that theme also recurs in the case you preside over on Thursday’s episode, where a man claims he is scammed by a coworker for furniture costs. Can you describe the nature of this case? How exactly is one scammed for furniture costs?
Michael Corriero: This is a dispute between two coworkers and friends. A woman needed furniture for a house, and the coworker decided he was willing to lend her money for that. The question becomes whether or not it was a loan or a gift, whether there were some strings attached to giving her the money. He claims that she just took advantage of him, manipulated him, if you will, because he was “a nice guy.” It should have been obvious to him that she was somewhat hesitant to repay this money because she said she wouldn’t pay it back until after she went on a Hawaiian vacation. On the other hand, from her point of view, she claims that the plaintiff really had something else in mind and it wasn’t simply a matter of generosity or a loan transaction. We had to sift through the motivations here and arrive at a verdict.
Patricia, we’re living in the internet era and it’s not surprising to see a case like the one you oversee on Monday’s episode. Can you tell us about the GoFundMe debacle between a 21 year old woman and her mother?
Patricia DiMango: It did turn out to be a debacle. I wasn’t very familiar with GoFundMe. Once we started to handle this case and I learned a little about it, I thought, well, this is a terrific idea, what a great idea. But just like any other brilliant idea, you’ve got to be careful with it. So here, the 21 year old girl who suffered a stroke, her mother gratuitously, in a very altruistic gesture, opens up a GoFundMe account for her. People contribute so much money to it, she’s pretty happy, and she’s using the money all along. At some point she needs to have some additional rehab. She goes in and $4,000 is missing from the account. She goes to her mother, who’s the defendant in this case, who started out looking like she was doing a good thing, and asks what happened to the money? But we’re not going to tell you. You’ll have to watch on Monday to watch what happened to this money. Did somebody rightfully take it, or was it wrongfully withdrawn from that account?
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