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February 2013 Newsletter

February 1, 2013

Read the print issue of the February 2013 News to Use newsletter »

This publication is intended to educate the general public and is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting on any information contained here, you should seek and retain competent counsel. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter print edition or text edition is copied in its entirety.



News to Use
February 2013 Edition


The Secret My Grandfather Carried for 43 years

There is one in every family. At least, I hope there is one in yours. In my family, it is my aunt, Lita Pignatiello who is our family historian. Or to be more accurate, the keeper of the family secrets. A lot of people reading this just got really nervous.

The date was Friday, March 23, 1951. It was the Home Edition of The Cleveland Press. The headline read, "53 on U.S. Plane Lost at Sea". Below the bold headline was a black and white photograph. It was 1951 after all.

The photograph was of my grandfather, Rocco Pignatiello. Plumber by trade. Father of seven. His name is not in the article. Not in the picture. That’s how he wanted it. It was only upon his death that his secret was revealed.

The article was titled "Barefoot Man Carries Cross Through Fulton-Clark Area". Every year on Good Friday he carried a heavy wooden cross that he had made himself. And it was a secret my grandfather carried for 43 years.

As a seriously ill six year old boy in Italy, his mother had made a vow that if he lived, she would carry the cross in her town’s Good Friday devotions. He recovered and she did. At age 14 he joined her, and she made him promise to continue upon her death.

Rocco Pignatiello carrying wooden crossHe first came to America all alone at age 18. He kept his promise. He walked barefoot along the New York Central Railroad right of way over sharp, cutting cinders as he carried the cross. In the early 1930s he heard about the St. Rocco procession. That is when he started his march through the southwest side streets. With 900 other St. Rocco parishioners marching over four miles for 90 minutes, he carried a six foot wooden cross he had made himself.

Over the years the robe hung in the back of his closet at home. The cross he had built would stay in the church basement, hidden away each year. He carried the cross until he was too sick to do so. For several years upon his death, his son Michael carried it. He too walked barefoot.

The day my grandfather died, the Cleveland Press called his home where all his children had gathered. My Aunt Lita answered the phone. They wanted to print his name to complete the article years after it first ran. Even in death, my grandfather controlled the story. And my Aunt, too afraid to go against his wishes, hung up without comment.

Today the annual penitential procession of St. Rocco’s Catholic Church continues. The man who has carried the cross for many years now is known to me. And I consider him my friend.

The Cleveland Press has only one quote in the entire article and it is attributed anonymously to my grandfather. “Another Man did it for me one time,” he says, “What I do is nothing.”

Richard A. Pignatiello's signature

Do Your Homework on Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a loan that enables you to borrow against the equity you’ve built up in your home. The money can be used for anything the recipient likes. When the owner dies or sells the home and permanently relocates, the reverse mortgage loan is paid from the estate, thus monthly payments are avoided.

Money can be received in a lump sum, a line of credit, or monthly payments. The borrower must be at least 62 years of age, and own their home outright or be able to pay off the home with the distribution(s) from the reverse mortgage.

The federal government requires that potential applicants undergo counseling about the reverse mortgage process - at a cost of approximately $125 - before receiving one. Property taxes and homeowner’s insurance must be paid or else a default of the loan is imminent. Some substantial up-front and ongoing fees are included with a reverse mortgage.

Many people apply for reverse mortgages as soon as they turn 62. But borrowing this early can be extremely risky, as it may deplete available resources later in life for things such as long-term care, among other necessities.

Couples should both be age 62 or older to apply. If one partner is under age 62 when the other partner applies, their name is not on the reverse mortgage. If death befalls the older partner, the younger person has no claim to the house.

Reverse mortgages are not free money, no matter how they’re portrayed by celebrities on TV. They should be a last resort.

I Lost the Case. I Wish I Could Have Lost it a Few More Times.

He was a $2 million dollar a year salesman. And he wanted to leave the company he was working for. My clients wanted to hire him. And they wanted him bad. But three years earlier, the super salesman had signed an iron clad, non-compete employment agreement with his existing company.

The employment contract was one of those “can’t be broken, 18 pages long” type of documents. It was written by a law firm that lists all the names of their founding members across the top of the page. And all of their offices located worldwide were listed down the left side.

My clients were scared. But an employee like this could change their entire company for the better and they really wanted him. The salesman was good fit. Not just professionally, but personally for the new company and its partners.

They hired him.

He was everything they hoped for. He brought a customer list and working relationships that forever changed the scope of their business. It was a fantastic move for my clients. They were happy. The salesman was happy.

And then my clients were sued.

It was clear that the employment contract had been broken. The super salesman had taken the same position with a competitor in the same industry. I told my clients my strategy, part of which included keeping it out of the courts and away from a jury. I opened negotiations with the previous company’s attorneys. They were never getting their salesman back, but how would they calculate his value?

I have no problem admitting I lost this case. The settlement I negotiated said my clients would pay the other company $100,000 as a penalty for poaching the super salesman. My clients were thrilled. The salesman was thrilled.

And the side that “won”? They were busy looking for their victory in all this.

When it was all over, I walked over to the opposing lawyers and asked a question. “Do you have any more $2 million a year salesmen we can buy for $100,000 each? We’ll take all of them.”

This is a true account of an actual case from my files. Identifying information may have been changed or omitted to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Careful With That Medical Release FormMedical Files

After an accident, an injured driver filing a claim will have to fend off the other driver’s insurance adjuster. That’s just the nature of the beast. In particular, one of the things they’ll ask you is to release your medical records.

You have no legal obligation to do this, and, frankly, it would be foolish to do so. Never sign a medical release form. A release opens the door for the adjuster to go through all your medical records, including a ton of stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with your case, but some of which could come back to haunt you. To make matters worse, your records will often bypass you and go directly to the adjuster. If your doctor is inaccurate with anything, you have no chance to correct it.

A medical release also grants permission for the insurance adjuster to talk directly to your physician or other medical provider.Things can be taken out of context, deliberately or not, making your claim look suspicious.

Your best line of defense is to hire an experienced auto accident attorney. If you sign a medical release form to release your records to your attorney, he/she will then determine which parts apply to your case, will review your records with you, and send only relevant information to the adjuster.

No matter how personable an insurance adjuster may be, their ultimate goal is to minimize what they pay you.

Bottom line: Never sign a blanket release for medical records to any insurance company.

This publication is intended to educate the general public and is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting on any information contained here, you should seek and retain competent counsel. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter print edition or text edition is copied in its entirety.

Contact Attorney Richard A. Pignatiello Today

We invite you to contact the Ohio law office of Richard A. Pignatiello at 216-524-1000 to schedule a free, initial consultation with our lawyer regarding your legal needs. We return phone calls within 24 hours. In addition to our regular office hours, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request. We offer payment plans.

The law office of Richard A. Pignatiello is based in Seven Hills, Ohio. We represent clients throughout the cities of Independence, Bedford, Parma, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, North Royalton, Strongsville, Berea, Middleburg Heights, and Valley View, as well as Cuyahoga County and Medina County.

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