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Law Offices of Ronald W. Rutz
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February 27, 2001: Mad Cow Disease; Securing a Loan wiht Multiple Owners on Title

Q: I just returned to Fort Collins after an extended business stay in Europe and also in the Far East. Much of the World seems aflame about Mad Cow Disease and is also pointing its collective finger back at us because of certain altered food products. But back here there is some discussion but nothing like elsewhere in the world. What gives?

A: Surprise! I know you have been waiting a long time to see this. My answer is based on a non-legal opinion and a speculative legal one. There has been some coverage on these issues but certainly not like in the rest of the world. The rest of the world is described as hysterical while we here in the United States, especially in reference to the agricultural industry, are labeled as ostriches with our heads in the sand. Maybe we are trusting our elected government servants to man the ramparts of fortress America as we sing "don't worry, be happy." But maybe it will take reported outbreaks here in the United States to shake us up a bit. If that happens, hopefully we will have enough time and opportunity to safeguard ourselves. Thus, for the time being, it is just a matter of out of sight, out of mind.

But perhaps there is another reason. During the last few years, around the country, including Colorado, the agricultural community has successfully passed statutes concerning defamation of agricultural products.

Remember the firestorm that Oprah Winfrey walked into when she aired a program in part on mad cow disease? The Texas cattle industry certainly went after her with its legal buzzsaw and to me seemed to cause a lasting chilling effect on our press in this whole general area, even though the cattle industry lost.

And yes, I am concerned enough to have cleared this column with an attorney and was advised to point out that I love meat, I eat just as much as I ever did, and I ABC - "always buy Colorado" products (or try to).

Q: I applied for and was granted a loan. But now that the title search shows two other owners, they refuse to go ahead with the loan. The other two are willing to sign the promissory note and the deed of trust (or even quit claim their discovered interest to me), but the loan company refuses to budge.

A: Stick to your guns. The loan was made based upon your ability to pay plus the value of the land. Since the other two people on title are willing to sign the note and the deed of trust, the loan company not only is in the same position as before (your credit worthiness is at risk while the loan company is secured by the entire property), but now it has two more people to go after personally if there is a default, plus two more interested people to make sure payments are made.

This company is acting a bit huffy considering that it was aware of the background information. These are the same people who tried to call the existing loan due and payable after your Dad's death and the inheritance of the property by the three of you (which of course they had no legal right to do). Either you are dealing with a company that just does not understand the basic rules of its business (which I run into also) or there is a hidden agenda in which a group like the ACLU might be interested.

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