Tag Archives: lawsuits in Mexico

Negotiating for La Yacata–The Preliminary Meeting

pozo hole driller

This is the machine that drilled the hole that pretends to be a well.

Everything takes much longer than anticipated in México. That is especially true of legal issues. More than a year and a half since the first demanda (lawsuit) we were still struggling to pay the lawyer his due. The second demanda (lawsuit) had not been resolved. And the third demanda (lawsuit) was also at a standstill.

As both Chuchi and the perforador del pozo (well-hole driller) had approached R2 after the last court appearance, (See Demanda 3–What the….?) Super Prez decided to take advantage of that and see if we could close up once and for all these infernal demandas (lawsuits).

Super-Prez, G, the new secretary that replaced R1 who had abdicated to the U.S., me and R2 our lawyer, had a preliminary meeting. We wanted to know where we stood and what legal options we had.

G and I arrived promptly at 5. At 5:15, Super Prez called me and said he was nearly there. R2 didn’t arrive until 5:30. In the meantime, we brought G up to date on the third demanda (lawsuit).

Super-Prez stepped out for drinks and gum. While he was gone, R2 began blustering about how albañiles (bricklayers) are all drunks, that they live in crappy houses and that they never try and better their positions in life. I listened for a bit but finally had to say that my husband was a bricklayer and that my house was well constructed and we were bettering our lives. It didn’t seem to phase him. He said that there was an exception to everything and that my husband must be an exception.

Needless to say, this didn’t set a positive tone for our meeting, at least from my point of view. But, down to business.

We wanted to know what the consequences would be for Chuchi and the pozo guy should they lose. As all signs point to their loss, we wanted to know if we had anything to tempt them with so as to end this a bit earlier.

R2 said that it could be penal and incur jail time, but he wasn’t clear on how much.

Then we wanted to know what would happen if they lost and appealed the judge’s ruling. I was especially interested in this point because my father-in-law’s court case has now been moved to Guanajuato since the Moroleón police refuse to admit guilt. (See On Life and Liberty).

R2 said that either party could appeal and that the case would be moved to a higher court in Guanajuato.

We also wanted to know how much R2 was going to charge us for these 3 court cases so as to deduct that amount from any offer we made to the pozo guy.

R2 hemmed and hawed about his answer, talking about his being more than fair in waiting for money and percentage rates and how even though the case wasn‘t active that didn‘t mean he wasn‘t working on it and I don‘t remember what else. I finally stopped him and told him the reason we were interested was to have an estimate to include in our calculations, not to argue about his pay. So he gave a rough figure of $300,000, 15% of the total amount of first demanda (lawsuit), and 10% of the subsequent demandas (lawsuits).

As R2 continued his monolog on our cases, he muddled up the issues, confusing the second demanda (lawsuit) from Chuchi over water right permits and this demanda (lawsuit) over a pagaré (promissory note) of $500,000 pesos. Super Prez wanted to know if we could obligate Chuchi to pay to pozo guy, but it didn’t seem like we could.

So all in all, we thought to offer the pozo guy $500,000 minus legal expenses, thus $200,000 providing we have legal rights to the perforation. We also wanted the copies of the original permit to drill and the well study that proved that the perforation could be used as a water source. R2 thought our offer was laughable and said as much. We thought we could up the ante as much as $250,000 but we didn’t feel that it was fair that we should pay legal expenses over something not caused by us. We also would be clear in saying that we would be willing to make this deal even though the well had been drilled in an area outside the deeded area called La Yacata.

We decided that any negotiation with Chuchi would take place after we met with the pozo guy and would depend on whether or not he had the water rights permit in his possession. As Super Prez learned on good authority that those certificates had been returned to the seller after the seller had taken out a lien on Chuchi’s house, we were pretty sure he didn’t have them and, therefore, had nothing we were interested in.

R2 wanted to know why we hadn’t put a demanda against Chuchi when he had been conducting meetings when he was no longer the president of the association. (See Who’s in charge?) I said that we had tried but as the legal representative–president J– hadn’t shown up that day, the Public Ministry had shut the door in our faces. Seems like we lost the opportunity there.

Although I think we still might be able to put a counter-lawsuit against Chuchi on the basis that he endangered our properties by these legal proceedings. Those of us that are living there also are at risk of losing our homes because of his shenanigans. Plus, we still do not have running water, electricity or sewer. I will have to ask some more on this issue I think.

So, we arranged to contact the pozo guy and set up a meeting for the following week.

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The second demanda Phase 9

Entrance sign to La Yacata

Not to be outdone, Chuchi sent his own demanda (lawsuit) in early May. He attempted to have it delivered to our house in La Yacata, however as there is no legal address, I refused to accept it. So it made it’s way to Super Prez’s office and then to R’s office.

In May, my mother-in-law’s accident drove the thought of this second demanda (lawsuit) from my mind. I was busy with hospital visits and trying to help with all the animals at our house and at my in-law’s house in order to allow my father-in-law and husband to be at the hospital as much as possible.

But then I received a summons. I was to stay at my house and await the demanda (lawsuit) on Friday. So I waited, but the delivery person didn’t come. So my husband, myself and el profe went to the courthouse. I told the secretaries there that no one had come and furthermore, my mother-in-law was in the hospital due to an accident caused by a police officer and not expected to live so I didn’t have time for this crap (or words to that effect).

By then I was in a state of hysterics and went to see Super Prez. I did not want any lawsuit that named me specifically because I would be responsible for payment if we lost. Also, I was in the midst of applying for citizenship, so didn’t want anything to effect that. Super Prez said he wasn’t sure why I was summoned as I was merely the treasurer, not the president of the association, but that he was confident that it would all work out.

I wasn’t satisfied with that, so I went elsewhere. I knew important people too, or rather I taught their kids. I had been teaching English to 3 children whose father was a lawyer and whose mother was a judge. It was la juez (the judge) I was interested in seeing. I went to the house and asked to speak with her. I explained I didn’t know what the summons was for and that no one would give me any information in the office and that my mother-in-law was dying and so I was a bit hysterical. She called the person who was supposed to deliver the summons and asked that it be explained to her, then she explained it to me.

The demanda (lawsuit) was from Chuchi, as I had thought, for a cantidad de agua (water permit) that he had supposedly obtained for the colonia (neighborhood). My name was on the demanda (lawsuit) because I was the treasurer, therefore, the current legal financial officer of the association. La juez (the judge) asked that the demanda (lawsuit) be delivered to her and she would then send it on to me. She also said that it would in no way affect my application for citizenship.

Feeling somewhat reassured, I continued doing what I could for my mother-in-law, although in the end, it was little enough. She died at the end of May.

The day after her death, R called me and asked if I would be available to sign some papers. I told him I would be at my brother-in-law’s place as we prepared for the wake. R arrived before I did and handed me some things to sign. I said that I would read them before I signed, which he seemed to think unnecessary, but read them I did, standing outside in the blazing sun.

These papers were the response to the demanda (lawsuit) maintaining that the people of La Yacata were not receiving benefits from the water permit obtained by Chuchi (we didn’t have water), that there was no well (only a hole in the ground) and that this hole was outside of La Yacata (it was dug in an area that didn’t have escritoras (undeeded land). I read everything again, signed, and went inside to set up chairs for the wake.

We buried my mother-in-law and I didn’t hear anything more about the lawsuit for a few days. Super Prez, R, and R2 came to the wake, as did all candidates for Moroleón presidency. After the burial, we prepared for the novena (9 days of prayer for the soul of the deceased to be released from purgatory).

The day of the first novena (prayers for the soul of the recently departed), la juez (the judge) called and asked me to come to her house about the demanda (lawsuit), so I did. She asked if we had responded to the charge. Remember there is only a 9-day period to respond or the accuser wins automatically. I said that I was pretty sure that we had, but she insisted that I call R and ask. She isn’t the sort of person you argue with, so I did. I then went to see Super Prez in his office and asked him as well. He gave me a copy of the response, so I felt reassured. Then I went back to the novena (prayer session).

In June, I was called to los juzgados (court) to give a confesión (confession). It’s an odd term, but basically, I was to go and answer some questions the judge would ask me that had been sent by the opposing lawyer. I was very nervous about this. Suppose my F2 identification wasn’t acceptable. Suppose I didn’t understand the question. Suppose I answered incorrectly.

I met with R2 before the confesión. He suggested I ask for the judge to repeat anything I didn’t understand and answer with yes or no whenever possible. He said that R and Super Prez had already gone through the questioning and gave me a general idea of what sort of questions would be asked. And then it was my turn.

The judge asked me if I knew Chuchi. I said yes. He asked if I was the treasurer of La Yacata. I said yes. He asked if I knew Super Prez and R. I said yes. He asked if La Yacata was receiving benefits from the water permit obtained by Chuchi. I said no. He asked if I knew that I was responsible for paying for contracts made by the association. I had to ask that be repeated. My answer was yes, those contracts that were approved by the association. This point was crucial because Chuchi never got approval for any of the projects he began and without approval, we weren’t legally responsible for contracts he signed. And then it was over.

I met briefly with R2 to tell him the questions and my answers and he seemed well satisfied.

In July, the judge made a visit to La Yacata to inspect the site of the pozo (well). A few days previous, Super Prez had my husband put up a barb wire and post fence marking the end of the area that had escritoras (deeds) so that the judge could see that the alleged pozo (the hole that supposedly is a well) was outside of those limits. So we met in La Yacata, Chuchi, his lawyer and perito (surveyor), the judge, his secretary, Super Prez, R, R2 and me. We had to leave the cars below and hike up a bit, which didn’t please the judge too well.

pozo bucket

This is what the pozo (well) looks like in La Yacata.

We walked about, took pictures and the lawyers made statements. R2 said that the pozo (well hole) was outside the area with escritoras (deed). Chuchi’s surveyor pulled out the plan to disprove that, only he had the plan turned the wrong way. I didn’t win his thanks by pointing that out. Then Chuchi’s lawyer said that we (the colonos) were receiving water benefits from the pozo (well) and the judge asked what well that was. There were no pipes or pump or water storage tower to get water from the hole to the houses. But he did admit that there was water in the hole, tested by dropping pebbles and waiting for a splash. I pointed out that since we were in the rainy season, there was water everywhere. The judge noted in his report that he couldn’t say if there would be water in the hole during the dry season, but that in July there was water.

Then we all trooped back to the cars for paper signing. I didn’t have my identification on me and was anxiously asking if I needed to go and get it, but Super Prez told me to wait a minute. I didn’t need it after all as he had R2 take my name off the demanda (lawsuit) and therefore, I didn’t have to sign anything. More importantly, if things were to go against us, I wouldn’t be personally responsible for the money owed. What a relief!

We presented this information at the next junta (community meeting). I had hoped this would help unite us once again, and open wallets for the $250 peso cuota (charge). But it seems that R2 (who had been the president of Moroleón before the current president) had made some enemies. And some of those enemies were property owners in La Yacata. When they found out that R2 was representing us legally, they complained.

I had mentioned this same concern to Super Prez earlier. I said that R2 had left office none too clean and that it’s possible that we would be unwise to trust in him. He agreed but hoped that since R was his brother and mentioned in the lawsuit as well, that R2 would have to do the right thing in this case.

Be that as it may, several colonos (associates) wanted to look for another lawyer. They thought it suspicious that R’s brother was our legal representative. I spoke up then. I said that we hadn’t called a junta (meeting) at the time we received the demanda (lawsuit) because my mother-in-law had died. As my husband and I are the ones that deliver the flyers and make the radio announcements for the community meetings, we were unable to do so within the 9 days we had to answer the charge because of the funeral. I admitted that R and R2 may have taken undue advantage of the situation and apologized to the community (neither R or R2 happened to be present at the meeting.) however what was done, was done and the only thing we could do at present was meet our financial obligations as best we could.

As of March 2013, we are still waiting on an end to this demanda (lawsuit). It looks good for us. We have successfully proved that the people of La Yacata are not receiving benefits from this water permit, as we don’t have any water. We have also proved that there is no pozo (well) at the site indicated by Chuchi. But it’s the third point that we are awaiting resolution on, whether the hole is inside or outside the legally deeded area. Our perito (surveyor) said no. Chuchi’s perito (surveyor) said yes. So the judge appointed a neutral surveyor to make an inspection in October. Well, as far as we know, he didn’t do an inspection in October or November and as in December and January the court is recessed for Christmas vacation and then Moroleón Days, we are in February still waiting for a verdict.

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The first demanda Phase 8

pozo digger

This is the machine that punched a hole in the water table.

So this brings up to early 2012. Our efforts to find out who we are and where we are had been coming along slowly, but steadily. Then came the first demanda (lawsuit).

We were presented the first copy of the demanda (lawsuit) during our routine meeting in January by someone unknown to us. He obviously had been sent by Chuchi to see that we get the paperwork. He was not forthcoming with how he obtained this, just that it had been given to him.

Super Prez read the papers and said he would look into it. The next day, the official notice was sent to his office. In this demanda (lawsuit) the perforador del pozo (the guy who drilled the hole that pretends to be a well) sued La Yacata and Super Prez for non-payment of work completed and nearly double in interest making the grand total about $500,000 pesos.

The lawsuit claimed that a contract had been signed in Super Prez’s office in 2007. Since Super Prez didn’t have an office in 2007 and was not the president of the community group La Yacata at the time, the well hole digger falsified the contract (with Chuchi’s help).

Well, the law works in mysterious ways here. Once a demanda (lawsuit) has been received, the accused party (in this case La Yacata and Super Prez) have 9 days to respond or it’s an automatic win to the presenter (the well digger). So since R’s brother, R2, was part of a legal team, a lawyer of sorts, he wrote a response to the lawsuit alleging falsification of the contract.

Now that a response had been made, the case proceeds to los juzgados (court). There, both sides present their cases to the judge who makes the final decision. It is a laborious and time-consuming process.

R2 decreed that he would accept no money until the case was won. It wasn’t a risk for him really, the charges were ludicrous. Lawyers are paid a percentage of the total claim. R2 said he would be content with a mere $100,000 pesos, after all, he was saving us $400,000 pesos by his efforts. We didn’t have any choice but to agree.

This first demanda (lawsuit) was open from January until September when the judge finally made his ruling in our favor. There was no contract between Super Prez or the people of La Yacata and the well hole digger. The contract was found to be between the well hole digger and Chuchi and therefore Chuchi was responsible for the balance of payment.

The next day R2 came for his first payment from the people of La Yacata. We put in a contra-demanda (counter demand) against the well hole digger in order to get back some of the money we have paid in our defense, but it won’t cover all the expenses. So each lot has a $250 peso cuota (charge) to pay the lawyers. It isn’t fair. We are being penalized for problems Chuchi has made. It doesn’t make the colonos (people) happy at all.

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