The attorney represented a client who was seriously injured in a vehicle accident as the result of the defendant’s negligence. The coverage was limited. However, knowing that the driver’s home address was in a northeast resort town, the attorney suspected the adverse had additional assets. Her paralegal utilized a proprietary database to identify potential attachable assets and found nothing but the home address and the defendant’s vehicle, neither of which had a high value.
The attorney contacted CLI and provided us with a copy of her database report. On review, we determined that the report provided to the attorney contained much less information than was available to licensed investigators (see companion article, “Don’t Always Trust a Database Report”). We obtained our own database report and researched public records to identify another property not disclosed in the attorney’s report. This property appeared to be a second home in Florida, which was not homesteaded.
We also identified several properties that the defendant had owned in other states, mostly in resort areas. Two of these properties had been owned by the defendant individually and then quit claimed in the past five years to a woman who appeared to be living at the defendant’s residence. Her relationship with the defendant, a single man, was uncertain.
A Google search of the defendant’s first and last name produced no hits, but a second search, which included the defendant’s full name and middle initial, revealed a reference to a number of lawsuits which the subject had filed as a plaintiff. By reviewing relevant online records, we found that the defendant, personally and through various entities, had owned a large shopping mall in a northern state in the late 1990’s. This property had been sold for millions of dollars before the real estate market crashed.
We also searched federal records and found that the defendant was a partner in another large commercial transaction three years prior. That suit was settled in the partnership’s favor.
It appeared that the defendant may have been a “millionaire next door,” living a frugal lifestyle, but having substantial assets which were not immediately apparent in a low-cost database report. With this new information, the attorney felt comfortable moving forward with the suit. The cost of the investigation was less than $500.
Not every investigation will produce such dramatic results, but the combination of an attorney’s instincts and skilled research by trained legal investigators can make the difference between a large potential settlement and the regret of throwing away a $100,000 case.
When you need all the information to make a decision on a case, call Complete Legal Investigations at 561-687-8381.