Feruzi Mwero

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How I Helped Heal My Fractured L1 Vertebrae

As some of you know, on December 27, 2009, I fractured my L1 vertebrae while sledding at Mt. Charleston (40 miles or so outside Las Vegas). I, later, also discovered I fractured my L5, fractured my coccyx, and rotated my sacrum. Oh happy days!

As of today I can say I am probably 97% fully recovered. I continue to have mild pain around my tailbone if I stay in one position for too long — sitting, standing, or laying down. Occasionally if I push myself a little too hard in a workout, or do it wrong I may have some pain around L1 and tailbone for a little while, but it never lasts too long. Nevertheless, I am fully active, playing sports whenever I can — basketball, soccer, etc. — and working out with P90X. Since I’ve lost weight, nearly 50 pounds, I have decided to start a running regimen. My goal is to run my first half-marathon next year around this time.

None of what I am doing, or plan to do, was possible in the days, weeks, and months following my accident. So, here are the methods* I used to get where I am today.
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Gimme Back My Money: It’s Finally Over!

In my last post I outlined the plan to collect the money legally owed to me by Daniel Ko. I’m happy to announce the plan worked. It took a little bit of work, but it worked sooner then I expected it to. How? Well, if you remember, the last post ended with me patiently in phase 1. So, let’s start there.

Phase #2: Inform Daniel Ko About The Judgement

It was hard to imagine that after all the hoopla of being served with a summons to appear in court, receiving letters offering generous settlements, missing his court date, and finally receiving letters from the court telling him he is now legally obligated by the court to pay his debt, that I still did not hear a peep from Daniel Ko. He stayed quiet and seemed to simply ignore the small claims lawsuit. Phase 1, the waiting phase, had passed without a word from Daniel Ko. It was time to move forward.

My plan for phase 2 was rather simple. First, draft a letter to Daniel Ko about the lawsuit and his legally binding obligations. Second, collect all of his addresses where he may receive mail and/or conduct business occasionally. Third, send all the letters by Certified Mail and with a Return Receipt. Fourth, collect the Return Receipts to verify the validity of the addresses and ensure they were received. Finally, patiently wait once again, and hope he replies to the letter.
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Gimme Back My Money: Update #3

November 15, 2010. I drove to work that morning, because of my long-awaited appointment that afternoon. It was d-day — judgment day. 326 days of ignoring my calls, messages, and emails, and it had all come down to this: it was now my day to face Daniel Ko in court.

After spending a few hours at work, I left and headed West to Torrance, the location of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. I made sure to give myself plenty of time to maneuver through traffic, figure out the parking, check-up on where I needed to be, and possibly get something to eat. I managed to do it all. And after scarfing down a six-inch turkey Subway sandwich, I cleaned up my face, straightened out my tie, locked up the car, and made my way to the security line at the front door of the courthouse.

It wasn’t long, and I was soon through security, up the elevator, and leaning on a wall on the South-side of the building on the fourth floor. I was apparently a little early for the 1:30 PM call time. Since it was my first time at a small claims court, I found the first friendly face in the very small crowd waiting by the door and asked him what was the usual procedure.

The man directed my attention to a list of papers posted by the door that showed the various cases to be heard on that day, when they were scheduled to appear, and if the proper paperwork had been filed; including if the defendant had been properly served. I quickly scanned the list and found my case; “Feruzi Mwero vs. Daniel Ko.” The kind man informed me that the judge was most likely out for lunch, and may not return exactly at 1:30 as planned. We would have to wait for the bailiff to open the door.

About 10 minutes went by before the bailiff opened the door from the inside and announced  the judge was back from lunch and Small Claims Court was now open. I scanned around the hallway before entering the courtroom to see if I would spot Daniel Ko. I didn’t see him.
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Gimme Back My Money: Update #2

You’ve just been served!!

I wish it was that easy. You know? Like, if I filed the lawsuit, handed Daniel Ko the papers, and he begged not to be taken to court, but instead settle. Nope. Unfortunately, it was slightly more complicated than that.

After I filed the lawsuit, and it was accepted by the court the next day, I spent almost two weeks deciding and procrastinating over how or who would serve Daniel. When you file a lawsuit against someone, in most cases, you (the plaintiff) are not allowed to serve the papers to the defendant yourself. You either have to get a friend to do it for you, without you being present or nearby; pay the court to send it by certified mail, which is usually not accepted by the defendant; solicit the local Sheriff’s office to deliver the papers (usually includes a fee and time delay); or, the best way possible, to pay a professional process server to deliver the papers.

I contemplated my first option; having a friend deliver it. But I lived so far away from the defendant, I didn’t believe anyone would be up to the task of driving with me over 70 miles in one direction. So, with 5 days left to properly serve Daniel Ko, I hired a process server in Torrance to do the job.

Louis Martinez, owner and operator of Attorneys Service Bureau, helped me understand the process, broke down the pricing structure, and assured I had essential information, all on the first night we spoke. The next day I sent him the vital court papers and information regarding Daniel Ko. I also included a few pictures to make it much easier for Martinez to positively identify Daniel. After receiving an invoice later that morning, I sent a payment, and Martinez was on the hunt. First stop, Daniel’s home.

On October 27, 2010, with 4 days left to serve Daniel, Martinez called me on my cell phone and informed me had served a Daniel Ko, at the home address I specified. Unfortunately, however, the picture did not match at all. Martinez went on to explain about the exchange between him and this other Daniel Ko, which included an explanation of the papers, leaving my information, taking his down, and promising this Mr. Ko to inform me of his findings. Martinez stressed that if I was not going to pursue a lawsuit against this Mr. Ko I should call and let him know. He gave me the information I needed and I proceeded to call and apologize to the mistaken Daniel Ko. Apparently he signed for a letter in his name that he had received months earlier, but after reading it, and not understanding it, figured it was a scam, and ignored it all together. After the call to the wrong Mr. Ko, I called and authorized Martinez to pursue my Daniel Ko at his business address the following day. Hopefully, we would get the right one now.

That night as I settled into bed, doubts crept into my head about whether or not I had the right information. I had done my homework, but somehow, in all the madness, I had verified the wrong Daniel Ko at the home address in Redondo Beach. Would Martinez find the right Daniel Ko the next day? He had too. I forced myself to believe he would.

On October 28, with 3 days left to serve Daniel, Martinez’s number popped up on my caller ID as the phone began to ring. I hoped it was good news and picked up the call.

Martinez calmly said he served a Mr. Daniel S. Ko, and the photo matched perfectly. Martinez explained that as he entered the small office for the business, he observed a man sitting at a desk with his back turned towards the door. Martinez said he called out Daniel Ko, and the man in the chair whooshed around and stood up. After asking several times if he was truly Daniel Ko, Martinez said he handed the papers to the man and let him know that he had just been served by Feruzi Mwero in the case involving MyOwnPlaceForSale.com. Martinez went on to say that Daniel sheepishly played stupid and tried to pretend it was all a mistake, but in any case Martinez let him know he would either have to explain it to me or to the judge.

Needless to say, I was super-excited. Over 9 months of absolute avoidance by Daniel and now I had proof he knew I was not happy with him and that I wanted my money back. What a great feeling.

Martinez explained that after he sent me the Proof of Service form, I would have to send it to the court at least 5 days before the court date. A couple days later I received the form and I mailed it to the Los Angeles Superior Court, as well as mailing another plea-to-settle to Daniel Ko. He did not accept the letter, or pick it up from the post office, according to the USPS.

I could only guess he was gearing up to battle it out in court. I could only imagine what he would say, but I practiced as if I was Daniel Ko. I asked myself questions, and made statements that if I was in his shoes I would use to get myself out trouble. I prepared; and I prepared well. It was time to face Daniel Ko in court.

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Gimme Back My Money: Update #1

If there are any of you reading or keeping up with my story of working with Daniel Ko, I thought it would only be fair to update you on what happened after I began my search for the infamous lawyer, turned website developer.

Since then, there were, and still continue to be a ton of developments. Some good, some bad, and some a tad bit ridiculous. In any case, the one important thing was that in my previous post about this story I promised to find Daniel Ko. Guess what? I sure did!

I promised to find him. And I kept that promise.

I’ll try and keep this long story short:

In July of 2010, after numerous attempts to contact Daniel Ko, by way of email, chat and phone, went unanswered or ignored, I followed a few leads I had on where he may be. Well, some weren’t leads, so much as guesses.

I found, and mostly confirmed, previous and supposed current addresses from his previous businesses, and other online sources. My idea to find him included sending letters by way of the US Postal Service, using delivery confirmation services, and ensuring each envelope bore the “Address Service Requested” endorsement. Of course, I would disguise the letters a tiny bit so he would not know they were coming from me initially. If Daniel was still living at the address he would most likely sign for the letter and I would receive a confirmation of delivery. If he moved and left a forwarding address with either his landlord, tenants-to-follow, or USPS, I would receive the forwarded address because of the “Address Service Requested” included on the envelope. If he did not reside at the address I would get the letter back.

It all ended up working out much like it was supposed to. Most of the letters, however, came back with either a yellow sticker indicating he did not reside at the address anymore, or as one indicated the address suspiciously did not exist. Two letters were signed for, and one of the addresses seemed promising.

Meanwhile, as I was receiving the letter notifications, I also stumbled upon a happy little website promoting a new technology geared towards parties and events. The new tech, which was not quite so new, was a giant iPod-like camera tower that could be setup as a traditional photo booth or a modern photo tower. You and your friends simply press a button or two and pose for the shots to come. The website also promoted video screen equipment and other multi-media party electronics. The reason I stumbled upon this website, and the main reason for its significance, was because Daniel Ko announced himself as the owner and president of the company. A familiar bio followed his picture, name and title, and even contact information was provided. A business address in Torrance was given. Perfect.

You see: the discovery of his new business, and an update he made to his rather public Facebook profile, led me to believe that a home address I believed to be accurate, an address located in Redondo Beach, not too far away from Torrance, would lead me straight to Daniel. In fact, one of the two letters that was never returned and was instead confirmed as delivered was this one address in Redondo Beach. I felt confident that I now knew his home address and his business address. I found Daniel Ko.

After piecing his whereabouts, I spent the next few months trying to reach out to Mr. Ko, and preparing my case files. I figured, if he didn’t want to acknowledge he owed me money, then I would be forced to sue him.

On October 11, 2010, after nearly 9 months of unsuccessful attempts to speak to this guy, I filed a small claims case against Mr. Daniel S. Ko with the Los Angeles Superior Court, located, easily enough, in Torrance. I filed the entire lawsuit online. By the next day, the filing was accepted by the court. I was given a court date: November 15, 2010 at 1:30 PM. It was now time to serve Daniel Ko. Oh, what fun this would turn out to be.

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