Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

July, 2004

TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
(AND BACK AGAIN)

~Rockville attorney goes beyond the call of duty in
Maryland family's bankruptcy nightmare~

By Tom Breiha

In 1997, the Rose family was living well. Phillip Rose was an OBGYN with his own practice in Maryland. The family owned a beautiful house and a boat. Phillip and his wife Mary were putting their children through college and living very comfortable lives. And then the unthinkable happened.

“[Our situation] started when Managed Care came into play and took over the practice of medicine in Maryland in the guise of controlling medicine costs, which it didn’t; it only controlled physicians’ salaries, what physicians could collect for their services,” remembers Mary Rose.

“Physicians like my husband never dreamed he would not be able to recover from this change in income, so we went way too long with credit cards and everything else trying to cope with bills coming into the house,” Mary continues. “We had four kids in college. We had a home, cars, a boat, all this to support. And when the money wasn’t coming in, he kept trying other methods to pay off the mortgage and tuition and do whatever. With such a severe cut to his income, he even used his retirement to try to save our home and keep the kids in school, and that was a mistake, too.”

The debts kept piling up. “When things didn’t change and they just kept getting worse, we went under,” says Mary. “We lost everything. We lost our home and basically all our possessions. And he kept increasing the number of patients he could see, and it still didn’t change anything. We just couldn’t keep up with the administrative costs of the practice and his malpractice insurance to make it a profitable business.”

For a family that had never had to consider the possibility, bankruptcy became more and more of a necessity. The Roses finally made an appointment with a Washington, DC-based attorney. The lawyer told the couple that they could not afford his services. He did, however, refer them to Rockville-based bankruptcy attorney Gary Weltman.

Weltman agreed to take the Roses on as clients. Seven years later, the family has been able to largely recover from its debts and start over. They have moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, where Phillip is now a women’s professor. Mary commutes from Greensboro to Washington, DC, where she works for President George W. Bush as a political appointee. The family is able to once again lead a comfortable life, and Mary will tell you that they owe it all to Weltman.

“We wondered why this wonderful man would be willing to represent us in such a tedious and bureaucratic process,” says Mary. “It was beyond us. We wondered, how did he make a living?”

“They appeared to be great clients,” explains Weltman. “That’s what I do; I file bankruptcies for people who appear to be in trouble or look for other means of exhausting their debt. They came in to see me and we seemed to click right away. They came from Syracuse, New York, where I was born and where my whole family came from, and their parents knew my grandparents. We took an instant liking to each other.”

Weltman worked to make the Roses comfortable with the arduous process. “Somehow Gary knew how embarrassing and depressing an ordeal this is,” says Mary. “He gave us hope. Every time we went we just felt uplifted … We had nothing to work with as far as finances, and yet he had faith in us.”

“It makes me wonder, why does any attorney accept bankruptcies?” continues Mary. “These are the poorest of the poor! We lost everything, and he took us on and treated us with respect. Never did we feel rushed.”

In fact, Weltman received relatively little compensation for the work he did for the Roses. “If you want to look into the time I put in and the money I got paid, I probably made about four dollars an hour on the full case,” Weltman admits. “In fact, they just recently in the last year sent me a check, not that I asked for it. At some point with them I just didn’t care about money at all. I never did. I liked them; I wanted to help them. They were different from a lot of my other clients, and I considered them friends.”

The bond between Weltman and the Roses went beyond the usual attorney-client relationship; Weltman has as many words of praise for the Roses as they have for him. “Throughout this entire ordeal, never ever did they become bitter,” Weltman explains. “They were always smiling, always thankful for their health and what they did have, never bitter about what all of a sudden they didn’t have. I think that was another driving force for my wanting to represent them and go to the ends of the Earth to help them.”

Weltman helped the Roses file a Chapter 7 and negotiated a manageable installment plan for their tax debts. “We will be eternally grateful to him,” says Mary. “The bankruptcy did go through, and we started over … We have compensated him since, but when we had nothing, absolutely nothing, he just kept doing the work.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July, 2004

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