Coronavirus Q&A: St. Petersburg attorney answers frequently-asked questions for free

Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – St. Petersburg attorney Charles Gallagher tells Eight on Your Side, his phone has been ringing constantly over the past week. Many of the questions that he is being asked surround the coronavirus. We asked him for a summary of some of those questions.

Q: I work in the service industry, and I’m currently not working. I’m worried about making ends meet. What do I do about my rent or mortgage payment?

A: The good news is, from the top down it looks like the government is making allowances for those things. It looks like there are going to be moratoriums on evictions, moratoriums on foreclosures. Maybe it isn’t paying your rent, maybe it isn’t paying your mortgage.”

Q: I booked a vacation months ago, and now all of the attractions I had hoped to visit are closed. Am I still on the hook for my reservation?

A: It’s a matter of contract law. Looking at the underlying contract law, it’s the whole idea of frustration of purpose. So, is this contract, could it occur? Could it happen? If you’re coming down here to go to the beach, which is closed, there is a pretty good argument to make that the purpose of my vacation was going to the beach, was going out to dine. Do you have the other side of that contract? The person renting out the air b and b. The person renting out the hotel. Are they being receptive to that? Are they going to be accomodating?

Q: What if I prepaid for my vacation and now want a refund? Do I have to sue to get my money back?

A: You can’t imagine that the vendors are going to be very sympathetic when they’ve already collected the funds. Why would they go ahead and refund those back?

Q: What if I can’t pay my cell phone bill? Does the cell phone get turned off?

A: There has been some positive feedback, they aren’t going to turn people’s power off. Hillsborough County is not going to evict folks during a shelter in place order. Those are very, very positive things to hear. But there are other issues when your cell phone bill isn’t paid because you aren’t working.

Q: What does it cost for an attorney to answer my coronavirus question?

A: What’s happening now is so many folks out there are doing free webinars and free teleconferences and I think every attorney in the bar area are being open to fielding questions for free because everyone is in the same boat. No one has been here before. We’re happy to help.

Gallagher’s office is in St. Petersburg and he can be reached at 727-344-LAWS

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