Monday, July 28, 2008

Citizens Who Are Financially Abused and Turn to the Justice System, Talk About their Experience


Fifteen years ago, life was good for Meryl and Norman Lanson. They owned a small and respected chain of men's clothing stores. They had a young son. They had a nice house. They had good friends. They had money.Then the phone rang.

Baron's grew from a one-store operation in 1946 to 17 stores. It catered to upwardly-mobile professional men. The chain had stores from Miami to West Palm Beach, as well as two stores in Orlando and one in St. Petersburg.

Within days of receiving an after-hours call from their banker, they learned a trusted employee and friend — the godfather to their only child — had embezzled $3 million.

Five years later, Baron's, their menswear chain that was a Household name in South Florida, was dead.

But while the 52-year-old family business died, the battle was only beginning.

Now filling dozens of boxes stacked in the dining room and garage of their suburban Boca Raton home, the legal fight has destroyed the Lansons' life.

Meryl Lanson is devoted to proving that the legal system — attorneys, judges and other professionals — conspired against them.
She has fought the battle in state and federal courts. She has sued her former attorneys for malpractice. She has filed complaints with the Florida Bar and the Judicial Qualifications Commission. She has written letters to former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Charlie Crist and copied the missives to the entire Florida Legislature. She has created Web sites, decrying the legal system and what it has done to her family.

And, 15 years into the battle, she shows no sign of stopping.
Just last week, she filed yet another federal lawsuit, accusing Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen of violating herrights to represent herself in a still-unresolved lawsuit that was first filed in 1999.

"Get on with your life? How do you get on with your life?" she asks, mocking the advice many have given her. "This is a horror. They destroyed our business. They destroyed our reputation. They took our money and used it to destroy us. They're going to put me back to where I'm entitled to be."

Those who think she's suffering from psychological problems are partially right. It's just one of the many scars of the prolonged litigation. And, she says, she has a medical diagnosis to prove it.

No comments: