News Archives: Success Story

Success stories written by LASM staff.

Because of the Legal Aid’s Society Attorney Nicole Penegor, a significantly disabled man will continue to receive institutional care, paid for by Medicaid.

The man, a ward in Legal Aid’s GAIN Project — in which guardians for developmentally disabled adults are recruited, trained and mentored by the program manager, Diana Pitkaranta — had been approved for Medicaid benefits in 2002 when he was found in need of a guardian and nursing home care. His citizenship status was approved at that time, but upon review by the State of Wisconsin in 2017, no records documenting that status could be found. The ward could not help in the process because he was unable to communicate due to the effects of a stroke, seizures and dementia. He could not even identify himself. No family or friends could be identified. His benefits were terminated by the State of Wisconsin.

Attorney Penegor stepped in to represent him. With no case law to guide her, she argued that based on state Medicaid eligibility rules related to citizenship, the state could not revisit its citizenship determination. An Administrative Law Judge agreed, and afterwards, the state acknowledged the benefit of having some guidance in making future eligibility decisions.

Wisconsin DOJ Sues Land Contract Company After Legal Aid Complaint

In 2015, Legal Aid attorney Amanda Adrian alerted State of Wisconsin authorities to illegal land contract/rent-to-own practices orchestrated by South Carolina company Vision Property Management and its affiliates. The State’s investigation into Vision culminated in an enforcement action filed June 5, 2017 by the Department of Justice. Attorney General Brad Schimel stated: “Companies in Wisconsin whose business model relies on deceiving consumers have no place in our state.” We agree.

More information is available from the DOJ here.

Legal Aid Preserves Housing for Mother and Daughter

A client came to Legal Aid because her landlord of 12 years was evicting her and her 12 year old daughter over less than $100.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development paid part of the apartment building’s construction costs in exchange for subsidized rent for low income residents; the client paid a percentage of the total rent cost based on her income.  When she got a new job with a higher hourly wage, she reported the change to the landlord and paid the higher portion of rent.  About six months later, her hours were cut significantly, so she reported her decreased income to the landlord.  Her lower income was ignored, she fell behind on the rent, and the landlord started an eviction action.

A Legal Aid attorney took the case and demanded the landlord’s file through discovery and filed a motion to dismiss the case.  Before the motion to dismiss was decided, the landlord agreed to dismiss the eviction on terms agreeable to the client.

The family can remain in their home of now 13 years and the daughter does not have to worry about transferring schools.

Legal Aid Prevents Eviction Because of Utility Bill

The client came to the Legal Aid Society after learning her housing subsidy was about to be terminated.  The subsidy paid 100% of the rent for her and three children.  The cause was that her utility service had been disconnected over a $3000 balance to WE Energies.

Legal Aid investigated the situation and learned that the client would have a hearing with the Milwaukee Housing Authority in about three weeks.  She had until then to restore her utility service to keep her apartment and subsidy.  The client contacted WE Energies who stated that she would need to pay $600.00 in order to restore her utility service, but even if the client could make that payment (which she could not), she would still be unable to pay her monthly bill going forward.

The attorney at Legal Aid then helped the client acquire a monthly income through W2 benefits and negotiated directly with WE Energies to minimize her bill through all possible programs and subsidies.  Ultimately, the client had to pay $200 to have her utilities restored, which she was able to do.  With a current account, she was placed on budget billing plan that reduced her payment significantly.

In the end, the client was elated that her utilities were restored, because she was no longer in danger of losing her housing subsidy. With help from Legal Aid Society, the client has regained control of her utility bills, remains in her home with her children, and avoided f bankruptcy.

Just another day helping out the residents of Milwaukee County.

Legal Aid Convinces Car Dealership to Honor Warranty

The clients, a married couple, came to Legal Aid to get help with a used car they purchased last year.  The couple also purchased an extended warranty for the vehicle.  After about 11 months, a routine maintenance check revealed a severe and costly mechanical problem. The car dealership’s first attempt to fix the car failed 10 days after the client’s drove the car home.  The dealership was unable to promptly take the car back in for repair, and the warranty expired in the meantime.  Attorney Karen Bauer negotiated with the dealership, which eventually relented and agreed to make the $2,000 repair at its cost.