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Laptop family is no stranger to legal disputes
The vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission could scarcely contain his scorn. Before the commission was yet another appeal from a Philadelphia-area family, again seeking a break on unpaid electric and gas bills that by last year were closing in on $30,000.
This family lived in a $986,000 house on the Main Line. The breadwinner, until recently, had earned well more than $100,000 per year. Yet he and his wife were in hock to creditors, ranging from Uncle Sam to their former synagogue - and had regularly been stiffing Peco Energy for five years, breaking payment plan after payment plan.
"Our procedures," the commission's Tyrone J. Christy wrote in a Dec. 17 motion, "were not meant to allow customers living in $986,000 houses, with incomes in excess of $100,000 per year, to run up arrearages approaching $30,000."
The debtors in question were insurance broker Michael Robbins and his wife, Holly, who now find themselves in the national spotlight after suing the Lower Merion School District, saying it allegedly spied on their child at home via a Web cam on a school-issued laptop.Setting aside the fact that I'm perplexed as to how they're being represented by a lawyer who previous sued them, this provides a little light as to the type of people who are bringing this suit. I'm counting no less than seven lawsuits that were already ongoing even before this claim.In addition to the Peco debt, the PUC noted, the Robbinses had been hit with numerous civil judgments in recent years totaling more than $365,000.
To Haltzman - who had taken them to court himself in 2002 - their finances and personal lives are irrelevant to the Lower Merion lawsuit.
According to court records, their unpaid debts range from $62,692 owed to the IRS to lesser debts of a few thousand to their dentist, their former synagogue's preschool, and a Montgomery County lawyer.
Michael Robbins is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with his former employer, Interstate Motor Carriers Agency Inc. of Freehold, N.J.
In a federal lawsuit filed by Haltzman last year, Robbins contends that Interstate owes him about $5 million in commissions. Bill Buckley, an attorney for Interstate, declined to comment.