34th District Court Judge David Parrott ruled on May 16 that Rebecca Kesler of Van Buren Township owes some $13,000 to her former friend, Kevin Hirsch, who helped her get on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire television game show where she won $50,000.
But, Kesler doesn’t agree that she owes Hirsch anything.
Using court documents in the public domain, the Independent has assembled the following report.
In a scheduled July 16, 9 a.m. court session in Romulus, Judge Parrott will be asked to appoint former Judge Stephen C. Cooper of White Lake as a Receiver, with the power under state law to use police and court officers to enter Kesler’s home, using a locksmith, if necessary, to seize items and a long list of other things to satisfy the judgment.
As Receiver, the judge has the power to direct local police to break down the door to her house, if necessary, to gain entry for the seizures.
Reportedly, Court Officer Vic Lotycz has provided an affidavit that he went to Kesler’s house seven or eight times to collect the judgment, but he allegedly was refused entry.
Judge Cooper is the same person who served as Receiver in claims against former Tiger star Denny McClain and in 2008 had police enter McClain’s Brighton home to seize assets. (McClain had lived in Van Buren Township’s Lemon Tree apartments for a while.)
But Kesler filed a response brief last week in opposition to Hirsch’s motion to appoint a Receiver, saying she had filed a Claim of Appeal on the matter in Circuit Court on May 16 and it has been assigned to Judge Colombo. Therefore, she said, Judge Parrott’s court no longer has jurisdiction.
Also, Kesler said in her response brief that the entire contents of her home are the personal property of the Trust of Timothy Szetela and/or Timothy Szetela and that she has no ownership interest in any personal property contained in her residence. Szetela is her husband.
In her response, she states, “Plaintiff and his counsel are both well aware (and have repeatedly stated on the record) that Defendant has virtually no income and has little to no assets.” She also asked that Hirsch and his attorney be sanctioned for harassing her and filing a motion before a court with no jurisdiction to consider the issue.
Kesler won $50,000 in 2010 on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire television game show after Hirsch helped her get on the show, facts she does not dispute.
An email shows that Hirsch had offered to help her get on the show and if she won anything, she was to pay him one-third of her winnings. He needed certain information to proceed and she gave him what he needed.
Judge Parrott rejected her claim that she told Hirsch in a telephone call that he wouldn’t get anything if he helped her get on the show and she won some money.
“… I find the Defendant’s position so incredible that no juror would accept it as true,” Judge Parrott said in a May 18, 2011 court session.
“Defendant has provided no evidence, other than her own self-serving, wholly incredible deposition testimony that such a counter offer was made, let alone accepted by the Plaintiff, in the face of her acceptance of the Plaintiff’s offer,” Judge Parrott said in the same court session.
Judge Parrott had asked for briefs on the amount Hirsch should get and then verbally chastised Kesler for her brief which argued at length that Hirsch should get nothing. On Nov. 4, 2011, Judge Parrott imposed a sanction of $413 against Kesler.
In 2004, Hirsch helped Kesler’s husband Tim Szetela get selected for the Super Millionaire game show. Szetela got a trip to New York City for the competition and he took his wife along, but he won no money and Hirsch asked for none.
Both Kesler and Hirsch are attorneys and once worked at the same law firm – and once were friends. Szetela is finance officer for Cash Connection and a Democratic candidate for Van Buren Township supervisor in the Aug. 7 primary election.
Kesler and Szetela are the parents of two sets of twins and have lived in Country Walk subdivision since 2005.
Last year, Hirsch’s breach of contract law suit against Kesler inched its way through district court and then circuit court (when Kesler claimed she had $25,000 in damages and that number exceeded what district court could handle) and back to district court when that claim was dismissed. A frustrated Judge Parrott noted the file on this case was more than three inches thick.
Judge Parrott said it was a simple breach of contract case and the only thing to decide was how much money Hirsch should be paid, because there was discussion about calculations before and after taxes. Hirsch had asked for $16,667. Finally, the $13,000 figure was set, which amounts to $11,782 plus pre- and post-judgment interest.
Besides the scheduled July 16 session in Judge Parrott’s courtroom asking for a Receiver to be appointed to collect the judgment, Kesler faces an Aug. 9 hearing before the State Attorney Discipline Board.
The complaint by Hirsch lists alleged misconduct by Kesler and includes an incident where Circuit Court Judge Daphne Means Curtis sanctioned Kesler $250 for filing a proposed order that was a deliberate misstatement of the court’s prior ruling.
On Aug. 27, 2010, Kesler made out a Cash Connection money order for $250 to Hirsch and his attorney David W. Williams and included “Fujb” written in the memo line, which Hirsch contends means “F*** you, Jewish bastard.”
Kesler said it actually stood for “fee under judicial order b”.
But Judge Curtis said Kesler’s explanation “makes no sense at all because there was no order be and so forth. So, it may very well have been an anti-Semitic racial slur. But I’m not determining that today because I’m not sure…”
Judge Curtis said Hirsch has a right to file a grievance with the Attorney Grievance Commission, which he did.
In a deposition on Sept. 24, 2010, Kesler said the memo was written because the money order was taken out of her husband’s account at Cash Connection and it would be returned to him. But, she agreed, those at Cash Connection would not know to charge that check to Szetela’s account by reading the memo line.
When reached by phone on Tuesday, Kesler said she is appealing Judge Parrott’s whole judgment because she had been denied her right to a jury trial, among other things. She emphasized that Judge Parrott no longer has jurisdiction because of her appeal of the case to Circuit Court.