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"Heldharmless"

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:37 pm
by wserra
In a thread a poster named stopthemadness began in the Nigerian forum, s/he recommends consulting a site called heldharmless.com to protext oneself from 419s. That seemed a little strange to me, since all one need do is laugh and ignore it to be completely protected. I thought I'd check these guys out.

They claim that they can "prevent and shield against insurance claims, lawsuits or any other similar action BEFORE they are filed; not after". Now, that's pretty remarkable. You mean that, so long as I sign up with you, I can tool down the road drunk, ramming people at will, and never get sued? I thought only the Goldcoast Singers could do that. How in the world can you accomplish that?

Surprise, surprise - they don't tell you. On their "How HH Works" page, they describe it as "a lawful combination of multiple legal documents, devices, practices and strategies bundled into one fully comprehensive product . . . if you bundle these devices and strategies together, such as in a HELD HARMLESS Membership, they then work collectively and simultaneously and form a complete and lawful shield". Can you give us a hint of what this legal miracle looks like? Well, no. Can you give us an example of it having worked? Well, no.

You can read the rest of the page yourselves. It's gibberish.

Where are these people? 244 Fifth Ave., Suite A-250, Manhattan. Ooh, nice address. Until you find out that it's a mail drop. I actually called the folks who run the drop, and they confirmed that they will give you a "Suite" address; unfortunately, the "suite" measures about 6"x8"x4". It's a mail box. Or an office for very small scammers.

And the domain heldharmless.com was registered by a firm on Bond Street in London. Another mail drop? But apparently they can protect you from suit in Great Britain, as well as the U.S. Only $100/month. But wait a second - if one single document does it, why do you need to pay them every month? Oh, yeah, you probably need "updates". Like an antivirus.

What a crock.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:43 pm
by Dezcad
The disclaimer at the bottom says:

Held Harmless is not a law firm, nor an insurance company or insurance product and does not apply to negligence or gross negligence.
(bolding added)

So it only works for intentional torts? Don't make a mistake, make sure to do it on purpose. :P

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:53 pm
by bmielke
Dezcad wrote:The disclaimer at the bottom says:

Held Harmless is not a law firm, nor an insurance company or insurance product and does not apply to negligence or gross negligence.
(bolding added)

So it only works for intentional torts? Don't make a mistake, make sure to do it on purpose. :P


I just thought about it, if you something like, I don't know, punch someone in the face that's a crime, but also an intentional tort, wouldn't all intentional torts be a crime? In which case you would be in jail and unless you could afford an Attorney then you would not be able to defend yourself from the suit. (At least in Tennessee.)

REPLY TO: "HeldHarmless" (I)

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:31 pm
by stopthemadness
Greetings to the Subscribers of this Thread,

My name is Ken Thompson and I am one of the members of the legal counsel for HELD HARMLESS. We, myself and the other members of the legal department, have taken the opportunity to read your comments on the company HELD HARMLESS; thank you. Sadly, we were taken-back by some of what we read as none of us, nor anyone in Customer Support, had been contacted with any questions about the company. So that we may assist in the clarification of your comments, please accept the following:

1. THE COMPANY: HELD HARMLESS Holdings Trust was established in New York, NY as an asset holdings trust for the benefit of its members. All funds earned by HELD HARMLESS remain in-trust for the benefit of its members. In addition to shielding its members from insurance claims and lawsuits, the company provides simple-interest mortgages to its members, invests in charities and their development and provides indigent people with an opportunity to get off of the streets, thereby, taking the burden off of the government and the communities in which they live.

2. THE NEW YORK ADDRESS: The mail-center service in New York is a necessity. It is used as the mailing address and so that any and all physical mail may be delivered.

3. THE UK ADDRESS: HELD HARMLESS' holding trust is managed in a specified tax jurisdiction so that the assets, income and investments by the trust are sufficiently protected from any and all counter-claims that may arise in protest of the HELD HARMLESS product. (For example: if a frivolous lawsuit or insurance claim is filed against one of our members, and the member prevails, the attorney for the Plaintiff may want to attack HELD HARMLESS for "blocking his potential earnings". The jurisdiction for “attack” is outside of the United States thereby rendering our member-assets free from exposure.)

4. HOW HELD HARMLESS WORKS: In short, HELD HARMLESS is a lawful dissemination (publication) of any and all physical notices you may already use at your home or business. "KEEP OUT", "WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR...", "PRIVATE PROPERTY", "fine print" on a contract, disclaimers on websites, etc., etc. These are lawfully known as “constructive notices”; much like placing an ad in the newspaper when you are trying to serve someone with legal documents because you cannot reach them or locate them. The difference is that HELD HARMLESS provides a complete and comprehensive (State and Federally compliant) dissemination of those notices which are unable to be contested.

5. QUOTE: “…so long as I sign up with you, I can tool down the road drunk, ramming people at will, and never get sued?” The obvious answer to this is: “NO”. HELD HARMLESS does not apply to gross negligence, much like your own insurance. As an insured, if you “go down the road ramming people” your insurance company will not come to your aid; you are on your own.

If you seek more legal information about the product, the successful cases and other case-studies which are used to enforce the HELD HARMLESS product, we invite you to call our legal department or write us an email and we will reply as promptly as possible.

We hope this helps in clarifying the questions you pose about the company, its product and effect. Again, we welcome your direct comments at any time.

Kindest regards,

HELD HARMLESS

Ken Thompson

Re: REPLY TO: "HeldHarmless" (I)

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:06 am
by wserra
stopthemadness wrote:My name is Ken Thompson and I am one of the members of the legal counsel for HELD HARMLESS.


Are you a lawyer? If so, where are you admitted? If not, please identify a lawyer who stands behind your product. A legal product isn't worth much if no one stands behind it, as I'm sure you'll agree.

THE COMPANY: HELD HARMLESS Holdings Trust was established in New York, NY as an asset holdings trust for the benefit of its members.


The New York Secretary of State has no record of you.

In addition to shielding its members from insurance claims and lawsuits


Stop right there, please. I say that is not possible, and any attempt to do so would be void as against public policy. Please provide one verifiable instance of your product having "shielded" someone from a lawsuit.

THE NEW YORK ADDRESS: The mail-center service in New York is a necessity. It is used as the mailing address and so that any and all physical mail may be delivered.


You don't believe that the "Suite" part is even slightly deceptive? And what's wrong with your address?

These are lawfully known as “constructive notices”


No, they aren't. Notice by means such as publication is only valid when permitted by statute or court order. Please cite the statute or order which permits you to serve valid publication notice in New York.

much like placing an ad in the newspaper when you are trying to serve someone with legal documents because you cannot reach them or locate them.


Exactly. Only valid when a court permits it.

The difference is that HELD HARMLESS provides a complete and comprehensive (State and Federally compliant) dissemination of those notices which are unable to be contested.


Proof? Remember that single verifiable instance of it working?

HELD HARMLESS does not apply to gross negligence, much like your own insurance.


As another poster pointed out, your disclaimer also excludes ordinary negligence. So you only cover intentional torts? Don't get me wrong, you can't cover that either - but what percentage of civil suits do you believe are for intentional acts? Tiny, right?

Don't forget that verifiable instance of your stuff working.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:16 am
by stopthemadness
Greetings WSERRA,

We [I] ask for a fair opportunity to completely and comprehensively reply to your post. These quick turn-around replies are in due respect of your specified interest in our company. Please do not accept our [my] reply as aggressiveness or as an attack to your meaningful and well versed questions; rest assured we welcome the opportunity to have you investigate the company, our product and all other aspects of what we claim that we do; thank you. We only wished more people did their homework much like yourself.

As it is growing later in the evening, I will respond to your latest questions in a simplistic format but request the opportunity to dictate a more comprehensive reply to you tomorrow, if you please. I would be happy to utilize this forum or you may prefer receiving the correspondence directly. If so, please provide a direct email address. Either way is fine for me:

1. QUESTION: Are you a lawyer? If so, where are you admitted? If not, please identify a lawyer who stands behind your product. A legal product isn't worth much if no one stands behind it, as I'm sure you'll agree. ANSWER: I am not a lawyer. I am retired (67 years old) and was the proud owner/shareholder of a national reinsurance captive. I was recruited by the company after learning about the product and inquiring as to its validity myself. Currently, we have three (3) in-house attorneys who sit on our Board of Directors and we have two (2) firms on retainer to address any and all legal matters outside of the company’s operations. I will request their CV for forwarding and here are the two (2) firms we maintain on retainer: Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. The company is well respected as a new concept and is hopeful to make a big difference in reforming both the legal and insurance industries. Something has to be done to lower costs and end the abuse.

2. QUESTION: THE COMPANY: HELD HARMLESS Holdings Trust was established in New York, NY as an asset holdings trust for the benefit of its members. The New York Secretary of State has no record of you. ANSWER: Trusts (“holding trusts”), revocable and irrevocable, are non-recorded instruments but are able to conduct business, make loans, purchase property and anything else a corporation can do under certain guidance and within specific parameters of the jurisdiction in which they operate.

3. QUESTION: In addition to shielding its members from insurance claims and lawsuits Stop right there, please. I say that is not possible, and any attempt to do so would be void as against public policy. Please provide one verifiable instance of your product having "shielded" someone from a lawsuit. ANSWER: Here are a few cases which I feel will best assist in this reply: GEORGIA POWER COMPANY v. McGRUDER, Audrey Jean Murphy and Melvin P. Whitten, III, and Glenda C. Whitten, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Muskegon County and Muskegon County Board of Public Works, Wastewater System # 1, Defendants-Appellees, [*1] ROB TANNENBAUM, Plaintiff, v. NEW YORK DRY CLEANING, INC., d/b/a/ NEW YORK CLEANERS, Defendant, Stephen Whitaker Plaintiff v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Defendant. We use LEXIS/NEXIS and would happily provide a summary of each case. (PLEASE NOTE: some are a few hundred pages long.)

4. QUESTION: THE NEW YORK ADDRESS: The mail-center service in New York is a necessity. It is used as the mailing address and so that any and all physical mail may be delivered.
You don't believe that the "Suite" part is even slightly deceptive? And what's wrong with your address? ANSWER: I am not certain what you mean by this: [You don't believe that the "Suite" part is even slightly deceptive?] The mail service is approved by the US Postal Service, it is lawfully engaged to do business, and licensed by the City to do business. There are many businesses located there for mail. Banks, insurance companies, utility companies, etc.

5. QUESTION: These are lawfully known as “constructive notices” No, they aren't. Notice by means such as publication is only valid when permitted by statute or court order. Please cite the statute or order which permits you to serve valid publication notice in New York. ANSWER: All states have a provision for “constructive notice” as does the federal government and they are all permissible unless otherwise specifically adjudicated by the court. I thought the same thing a few years ago.... Here are just a few: Michigan: http://www.icle.org/mlo/mcr/02/2.106.htm New Hampshire: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/rules/prob2/prob2-128.htm Montana: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/mca/7/1/7-1-2121.htm Ohio: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3901-1 Supreme Court of Arizona: http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/2003 ... 3-391.html Florida: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/ind ... ec5363.HTM Illinois: http://www.ilga.gov/LEGISLATION/ILCS/il ... cation+Act.
6, 7, 8: QUESTION: These last few all pretty much address the same thing: Don't forget that verifiable instance of your stuff working. ANSWER: I hope these questions will be answered upon your perusal of the cases as provided in QUESTION #3.

Once again, I thank you for your inquiries into the company. Your comprehensive and intelligent insight not only hones our performance but lends the extra information to the general public so that they too can make an educated determination of HELD HARMLESS and what we do.
Kindest regards,

HELD HARMLESS

Ken Thompson

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:08 am
by wserra
stopthemadness wrote:Currently, we have three (3) in-house attorneys who sit on our Board of Directors


Who are they? Where are they admitted? As you are well aware, no names at all appear on your web site.

the two (2) firms we maintain on retainer: Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.


Hughes Hubbard and Paul Hastings stand behind your product, and you don't even have that on your web site? I don't believe you.

I think I'll inquire of those firms if they have ever heard of you. Of course, they don't have to answer.

Trusts (“holding trusts”), revocable and irrevocable, are non-recorded instruments but are able to conduct business, make loans, purchase property and anything else a corporation can do under certain guidance and within specific parameters of the jurisdiction in which they operate.


You said "HELD HARMLESS Holdings Trust was established in New York, NY as an asset holdings trust for the benefit of its members". I pointed out that the Secretary of State - which records all corporations, DBAs, LLPs, LLCs and so forth which are formed in New York - has never heard of you. Neither has WestLaw. Under what provision of New York law are you "established"?

Here are a few cases which I feel will best assist in this reply


I didn't ask you for "a few cases which [you] feel will best assist". I asked you to back up your claim that your product can "shield its members from insurance claims and lawsuits". And you should know better than to throw out random names. Cases have citations in standard forms. In the event that the cases you cite (if you in fact cite any) are not reported, then provide the courts and docket numbers. This is pretty basic stuff for anyone not seeking to be evasive.

And whaddaya know - I took a shot at one of your cases and found it. Tannenbaum v. New York Dry Cleaning, Inc., 2001 WL 914272 (N.Y.City Civ.Ct.). A guy's expensive shirt is ruined by a dry cleaner, and he seeks to recover the purchase price. Needless to say, Held Harmless isn't mentioned in the opinion. It's a little difficult to claim that the case shows that your stuff works when it isn't even mentioned, dontcha think? But it gets better. The back of the laundry ticket had a printed limitation of liability - which the Court found ineffective: "the limitation-of-liability clause on the back of the Claim Ticket (the “Limitation Clause”) does not operate to limit Defendant's liability". So, if it is your stuff, you lost.

Sorry, Hughes Hubbard didn't think this up. Internet scammer thought this up.

wserra wrote:You don't believe that the "Suite" part is even slightly deceptive? And what's wrong with your address?
ANSWER: I am not certain what you mean by this


How about this: you don't have a suite there, you have a mailbox there. There can be only one reason you call it a "suite" - so that people think it is one when it isn't. Clearer now?

All states have a provision for “constructive notice”


Of course they do. But that doesn't mean that you can throw some garbage in the paper and the law will consider it as such.

Here are just a few: Michigan: http://www.icle.org/mlo/mcr/02/2.106.htm
Page not Available.
Rules of the Probate Courts. Does your business have something to do with wills? And the Rule provides that "the order shall be for publication in a newspaper". Do you see the word "order"? As I wrote: publication is only notice where statute or order permits it. Where is the order that permits you guys to give anyone notice by publication?
That statute provides that "whenever a local government unit other than a municipality is required to give notice by publication" - in other words, when the law requires it, it is notice. Where is the law that says that you (as opposed to a Montana local government) can give publication notice?

Are you getting the picture? I'm sure Hughes Hubbard would.

Oh, and you left something out entirely: your disclaimer excludes ordinary negligence. So you only cover intentional torts? Don't get me wrong, you can't cover that either - but what percentage of civil suits do you believe are for intentional acts? Tiny, right?

Perhaps you should recall the First Rule of Holes: "When in one, stop digging."

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:22 am
by Nikki
Ken:

It's really not a good idea to attempt to whitewash a pseudo-legal scan by arguing with an attorney who knows what he's talking about and who has spent years squashing bugs like you.

Your best move will be to fole your tent and slink quietly off into the night.

If you keep trying to answer the legitimate questions about your bogus operations, eventually you are going to insert your foot far enough into your mouth to warrant UPL charges against you.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:35 am
by Judge Roy Bean
Tomorrow should prove interesting.

One can only wonder why this hasn't already put a stop to tort litigation. :roll:

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:01 am
by Doktor Avalanche
Is he f***ing serious? He has a product that can shield you from lawsuits in a country that is undoubtedly the most litigious country on Planet Earth where you can sue anyone for anything at any time?

He's seriously going to come here and make that claim?

Image

You have to admire the chutzpah of a scammer who comes to a website that specializes in identifying and eviscerating Internet scams to defend their scam.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:42 pm
by wserra
Judge Roy Bean wrote:Tomorrow should prove interesting.


Or maybe not.

Anyway, here is a Youtube video by one "Anthony Baratta", who identifies himself as the "founder and trustee" of Held Harmless. In the background is a definite upscale city downtown; he says that he is standing "just outside of our southeast regional offices in Miami". That's interesting, because a google of "held harmless" and "Miami" comes up with a couple of commercials, but no office at all. Their web site lists only the Manhattan mail drop. And the Florida Department of State - like New York - has never heard of them. The rest of the video is the same nonsense that's on their site.

Oh, and here's a really interesting claim:
Our findings show that the majority of State and local governments require some sort of liability coverage in order to acquire an occupational license.

Taking into consideration the extremely high cost of liability insurance, Held Harmless Team Members have found that a Held Harmless Business Membership meets the basic requirements as mandated in the application process which helps small business owners keep their costs down while shielding themselves from liability claims and lawsuits
So a membership in your organization supposedly meets state liability insurance requirements? Where in the world did you get that idea? Wait a second - that's asking for authority. Authority bad.

But I'm expecting that, any day now, a lawyer from Hughes Hubbard or Paul Hastings will be providing an opinion letter telling us all how legit these guys are. Any day now.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:53 pm
by Gregg
You have to admire the chutzpah of a scammer who comes to a website that specializes in identifying and eviscerating Internet scams to defend their scam.


Well, some of them at least have the "Bravery of Fools" in that they're really just stupid enough to think it might work.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:05 pm
by Doktor Avalanche
Gregg wrote:
You have to admire the chutzpah of a scammer who comes to a website that specializes in identifying and eviscerating Internet scams to defend their scam.


Well, some of them at least have the "Bravery of Fools" in that they're really just stupid enough to think it might work.


My kind of people. I just hate having to pick their gristle out of my teeth afterwards. :twisted:

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:52 pm
by Judge Roy Bean
Mr. Baratta and at least one of his enterprises are no stranger to litigation:

http://southflorida.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2008/10/20/daily56.html

http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0198-242869/Tempest-at-former-Pompano-Beach.html

http://www.4dca.org/opinions/Pcas/Oct%202008/10-22-08/4D08-1307.pca.pdf (.pdf file)

It would appear they believe they have developed some form of constructive notice magic armor, i.e., putting "I/We do hereby give lawful legal public notice that I/We are not legally liable for losses, injuries or damages sustained by others while utilizing the facilities or utilizing our services" on the HeldHarmless website and whatever else the package includes somehow precludes a lawsuit or insurance claim.

Sure it does.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:31 am
by Lambkin
stopthemadness wrote:Here are a few cases which I feel will best assist in this reply: GEORGIA POWER COMPANY v. McGRUDER, Audrey Jean Murphy and Melvin P. Whitten, III, and Glenda C. Whitten, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Muskegon County and Muskegon County Board of Public Works, Wastewater System # 1, Defendants-Appellees, [*1] ROB TANNENBAUM, Plaintiff, v. NEW YORK DRY CLEANING, INC., d/b/a/ NEW YORK CLEANERS, Defendant, Stephen Whitaker Plaintiff v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Defendant. We use LEXIS/NEXIS and would happily provide a summary of each case.

I am interested to hear your summary of each case.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:10 pm
by wserra
These guys are truly a piece of work. Not only is their premise nonsense; not only do they cite law which proves them wrong; not only do they claim to satisfy legal requirements they don't come close to satisfying; but in addition to that and more they use names of folks who have never heard of them as alleged supporters.

They supposedly give "constructive notice" of their "clients" being bulletproof by publishing the names in a "National Registry". In the lower right corner of their home page is a "National Registry Search". If you click on it with the search field empty, it takes you to "Advanced Search". I filled in only "New York" in the search, and got a page with a dozen New York Medical Societies. The "View Details" even gives you the names of their executive directors. Impressive, right, all of these societies being members of "Held Harmless".

Except it's complete bullshit. I contacted a couple. I spoke to the executive directors of the New York County and Westchester County Medical Societies, who had never heard of "Held Harmless" or heldharmless.com and were surely not paying them anything. The scammers just lifted the names from some directory and pasted them on their site.

I think some public-spirited citizen should enroll "Held Harmless" in NAMBLA. Or Al Qaeda.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:30 pm
by Judge Roy Bean
wserra wrote:These guys are truly a piece of work. ...

I think some public-spirited citizen should enroll "Held Harmless" in NAMBLA. Or Al Qaeda.


Well the FTC knows about them now.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:35 pm
by cdj1122
I have to wonder what kind of thinking brought them to post the nonsense in this particular forum ?
.
Did they simply google some keywords and then toss it into the arena ?
.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:15 pm
by wserra
It's hard to believe that no one has shut these guys down yet. Moreover, they've even revised their web site, making more outrageous and brazenly false claims than ever:
Provide an alternative to unaffordable insurance policies
An alternative to insurance? Only in the same sense as "Be happy. Don't worry."
Provide a safe-haven from lawsuits or frivolous claims against your home or business
Right. We've been through that nonsense before.
HELD HARMLESS is a lawful shield which is recognized in all state and federal jurisdictions
That's just beyond words. I would ask them to cite a single jurisdiction - just one - that recognizes them as capable of doing anything, except that there is no one to ask.
We do something that insurance policies and lawyers cannot do: shield you BEFORE the problems arise.
We have magic wands. Trust us.

We've been through it all before. These guys can't and don't even try to do what they claim. Moreover, there's no point, due to the strong public policy considerations against disclaiming liability for one's own acts.

Going to their "national registry" and searching for New York yields only those medical societies they had before, who don't know Held Harmless even exists.

And their tiny-print disclaimer still excludes negligence. What's that leave in tort - only intentional acts, a tiny percentage of all tort suits.

Maybe it's because I practice this type of law, but I'm just appalled they get away with making these claims.

Re: "Heldharmless"

Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:28 pm
by Cathulhu
The only "shield" that works the way these idiots describe belongs to Captain America.