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back to article How a Facebook post by blabbermouth daughter cost her parents $80,000

A Florida dad is $80,000 poorer after his daughter went on Facebook to brag about a court settlement he received – and lost him the lot. Patrick Snay is the former headmaster of Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, and in 2011 he launched legal action against his old employers after his contract was not renewed. Snay claimed he …

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FAIL

Ouch!

That's gotta hurt.

No Gulliver travels for the Snays.

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Anonymous Coward

Icsnay!

ICSNAY!!!!

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Stop

Something doesn't add up here...

"However, as part of a subsequent $80k out-of-court settlement deal with the school, Snay had to sign a confidentiality agreement promising he would not disclose the terms of the compensation package."

It looks to me as if the daughter never disclosed those terms but only revealed the fact that a settlement was reached which by itself is normally hardly confidential. So either the article got it wrong and this dealt with more than merely the terms of the agreement or something doesn't add up here.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"It looks to me as if the daughter never disclosed those terms but only revealed the fact that a settlement was reached which by itself is normally hardly confidential."

The post reveals that money was paid. A settlement does not mean that any money changed hands. Settlements often involve no money at all, and are just ways to exit a civil suit with a no possible return on investment.

Yes, in the US a civil suit can be considered an asset. You can even borrow money against a civil suit in order to keep the case going. That is of course, if you can convince a bank you are going to win.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

As has been observed, the fact a settlement and a favourable one had been reached would be difficult to hide and easy to deduce, particularly by a family member or close friend or neighbour.

I suspect having read the court ruling, there was an element of naïvety on the part of the family and their legal team - they overlooked the need to have a story to tell the daughter (and others) why daddy was no longer going to court etc. and an element of opportunism by Gulliver's lawyer (who would of drafted the original clause) who was probably aware of the dilemma the family would face and hence why he was monitoring the daughter's Facebook posts...

I'd therefore suggest the family ask their lawyer for a rebate...

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

@Shell

The "terms"; ie "the agreement between the two parties", was that he recieves 80K for not disclosing the deal to anyone...... That means "no-one".

He could easilly have explained to his wife that he won the courst case and also say, to his wife, familly, that he can't can't discuss the details.. I cant see the importance of telling anyone the nitty-gritty and certainely not the daughter.

Personally, I have no sympathy for the guy, he should imply have swallowed his pride, kept his mouth shut and enjoyed the 80k..... Instead he wanted to show off and he paid the price, what an arse...

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Gulliver's lawyer (who would of drafted the original clause)

I really hope the lawyer drafts better than you do

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"I cant see the importance of telling anyone the nitty-gritty and certainely not the daughter....kept his mouth shut and enjoyed the 80k"

A decent lawyer should have got that "breach of terms" claim thrown out easily. Giving the guy an $80k settlement on the grounds he tell *no one* is impractical at best and would have required the entire immediate family sign the non-disclosure at worst.

How the hell was the guy supposed to tell his wife the case was over and then not explain where the $80k came from in the (probably joint) bank account? Based on the evidence supplied in the article, he may not have told his daughter how much he got, just that it was enough for a damn good holiday.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

I cant see the importance of telling anyone the nitty-gritty and certainely not the daughter.

Really? You are supporting courts having the rights to dictate that married individuals must keep secrets from their spouses? From their direct family?

At what point did America get taken over by people who think the state can do whatever the hell it likes to whoever the hell it likes, and make it legally enforceable. At what point did the state get the right to dictate the shape of someones marital relationship.

I really don't understand how your judicial system can have gone so wrong. You have courts which can remove the right to freedom of speech, and the right to a private life. You have law enforcement agencies which can actively instuct officers of other law enforcement agancies to break your own laws. You have laws which allow the words of your police officers to become legally binding orders which citizens must obey under threat of physical force, and imprisonment. Where the fuck is the land of the free?

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"Really? You are supporting courts having the rights to dictate that married individuals must keep secrets from their spouses? From their direct family?"

I really dont understand what "contract" or agreement means then. This guy accepted the agreement, he was not forced or coerced and the agreement stated that he "must" keep the details quiet.

I do not see how any of his indivudual rights have been abused, he accepted the agreement, he should have kept his side of the bargain otherwise he should not accepted the deal.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"I really dont understand what "contract" or agreement means then."

For a "contract" to be valid, it must be fair to both sides, offer both sides some approximately equal benefit. Contracts are often overturned or thrown out when one side or the other realises they've been screwed over after the fact by an "unfair" contract.

Yes, some will say, "tough, you should have read it", but not everyone is an expert and we all know how weasely most T&Cs are that we all click through on installing software. For that matter, it's not hard to find a contract with terms in which actually preclude each other so it's impossible not to break one term by trying to keep within the scope of the other.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

>You are supporting courts having the rights to dictate that married individuals must keep secrets from their spouses? From their direct family?

If you read the court record, the wife was also a signatory (obviously because she would have a vested interest in a settlement due to marriage). However, it wasn't until after they signed that it occurred to them that they needed a story for their daughter and others, which the agreement they had just signed effectively prohibited.

But yes the courts do have the rights to enforce contracts between willing parties, if you've ever had to: be a member of a jury, sign the Official Secrets Act then you will know that there are things that you can't talk to your family and friends about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

> For a "contract" to be valid, it must be fair to both sides, offer both sides some approximately equal benefit.

It did. In return for their silence the school offered them $80,000. The former headmaster considered it fair and the school considered it fair. The former headmaster then proceeded to break the terms of the contract.

> Yes, some will say, "tough, you should have read it", but not everyone is an expert and we all know how weasely most T&Cs are

This wasn't a "click here if you agree" type thing. It was a contract negotiated by their lawyers. They would not have been presented with the contract and told to sign here. Their lawyer will have explained exactly what they could and couldn’t do and what the implications were. They did not need to be expert in legalise, just expert in the plain English the lawyer explained the terms to them in.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

A decent lawyer should have got that "breach of terms" claim thrown out easily. Giving the guy an $80k settlement on the grounds he tell *no one* is impractical at best and would have required the entire immediate family sign the non-disclosure at worst.

The IRS would have to sign too, they tend to want to know about large sums of money because they want their share of it.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

I really don't understand how your judicial system can have gone so wrong. You have courts which can remove the right to freedom of speech, and the right to a private life. You have law enforcement agencies which can actively instruct officers of other law enforcement agencies to break your own laws. You have laws which allow the words of your police officers to become legally binding orders which citizens must obey under threat of physical force, and imprisonment. Where the fuck is the land of the free?

Sadly the UK is not much better. If you're in a public place the police can order you to obey them under threat of arrest. If social services decide they don't like you then your right to privacy is very limited, and then you're banned from talking about issues.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

The critical bit is "out-of-court".

If it had been an in-court settlement, then the terms would have been public record.

With an out of court settlement, all we know is the action stopped. We don't know if that was because they paid him or he had a change of heart.

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Alert

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

This wasn't a "click here if you agree" type thing.

At least according to the letter of the law here in the USA, "click here if you agree" is as legally binding as any paper document you sign with a pen. See the E-SIGN act of 2000, signed into law by the same president who would challenge you to define the word "is".

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

The guy did not have to accept the out of court settlement, but he did and one of the terms of that agreement was that he told nobody. He breached those terms, his daughter told 1200 people and many more indirectly.

If he didn't like the terms he shouldn't have signe and instead continued his action. Simple really.

Of course now that the settlement no longer stands I would have thought he could renew the action. After all I don't suppose the settlement would be allowed to prejudice the case either way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

> Of course now that the settlement no longer stands I would have thought he could renew the action.

Nope he couldn't because the settlement is still in force.

The settlement was in 3 parts: 10k back pay, 80k to keep his gob shut and 60k for his lawyers. He got the10k back pay and the lawyers were paid. He never got the 80k because he didn't keep quiet.

He had an opportunity, after his daughter blabbed, to vacate the settlement and renegotiate but he declined. As a result, the agreement to settle stands, even though he is no longer entitled to the 80k.

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FAIL

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Really? You are supporting courts having the rights to dictate that married individuals must keep secrets from their spouses? From their direct family?

This case revolved around an OUT OF COURT settlement.

The court in this case wasn't dictating anything - it was enforcing a term of a contract which had been agreed by BOTH PARTIES.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Sadly the UK is not much better. If you're in a public place the police can order you to obey them under threat of arrest. If social services decide they don't like you then your right to privacy is very limited, and then you're banned from talking about issues.

With a heavy heart I recognise and accept we're really not any better over here.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"At what point did America get taken over by people who think the state can do whatever the hell it likes to whoever the hell it likes, and make it legally enforceable."

Are you not exactly describing America there? Actually any of the Western Governements.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"The "terms"; ie "the agreement between the two parties", was that he recieves 80K for not disclosing the deal to anyone...... That means "no-one"."

I am almost 100% certain that it doesn't mean immediate family, that would be an unreasonable restriction.

Also, is his daughter old enough to be a party to such an agreement? I doubt it.

I think this man's lawyers have let him down. But not as much as his daughter, who has learned that you don't just gob your mouth off about everything that happens in your family to everyone on a public forum.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Here is the confidentiality clause:

13. Confidentiality

. . . [T]he plaintiff shall not either directly or indirectly, disclose, discuss or communicate to any entity or person, except his attorneys or other professional advisors or spouse any information whatsoever regarding the existence or terms of this Agreement. . . A breach . . .will result in disgorgement of the Plaintiffs portion of the settlement Payments.

Here is what the Judge said:

The fact that Snay testified that he knew he needed to tell his daughter something did not excuse this breach. There is no evidence that he made this need known to the school or to his or its attorneys so that the parties might hammer out a mutually acceptable course of action in the agreement. Rather, before the ink was dry on the agreement, and notwithstanding the clear language of section 13 mandating confidentiality, Snay violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do.

One of the reasons that Judge found in favour of the school was because the language of clause 13 was clear and unambiguous. Snay also testified that he knew he could not tell his daughter. If Snay thought that the restriction was unreasonable then he should have negotiated a different deal.

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Megaphone

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

I would suggest there is a world of difference between telling your immediate family and making an announcement to all and sundry on Facebook which is surely akin to taking out a full page advert in a national advert.

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Gav

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Yup. The point here is that he would probably have been fine if he'd told his daughter, and told her to keep her mouth shut. He also didn't need to tell his daughter any actual figures or details.

But he didn't. He told her, and most importantly forgot to impress on her about it being a secret. And she then went and broadcast it to many of the people the school explicitly did not want to know (other pupils, parents, teachers).

It sucks, but totally his fault. Should have been more careful.

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Joke

Re: ...and make it legally enforceable.

At what point did America get taken over by people who think the state can do whatever the hell it likes to whoever the hell it likes, and make it legally enforceable.

In the aftermath of 8/11.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

I believe the settlement said "Spouse". As for the child (I have heard she is in College, but can't confirm), why do you have to explain anything? Put the money in the bank and carry on. Do you tell your children how much you make? My parents certainly didn't. If I asked I was told "none of my business". Even if he was allowed to tell her, she wasn't 'allowed' to tell the world. Plus I think her 'suck it' comment added gasoline to the fire. I have zippo sympathy.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

Last I looked in the article it was the father who signed the NDA - not the daughter so explain to me like I'm 5 how the hell HER actions constitute HIM breaking the NDA. God but God screwed the hell up when he created Americans..

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Trollface

Re: Something doesn't add up here...

"Personally, I have no sympathy for the guy, he should imply have swallowed his pride, kept his mouth shut and enjoyed the 80k..... Instead he wanted to show off and he paid the price, what an arse..."

Because he obviously *was* bragging and hadn't, for example, simply been overheard talking to his wife during the stressful process, and because you personally know the man and know him for a Tw*t.

Sorry Khaptain, you get the fail. You could have just sniggered along with everyone else but no, you had to brag about *why* and now you've lost the moral high ground and everyone wants their upvotes back. I've no sympathy for you.

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Thumb Up

The story so far

> explain to me like I'm 5 how the hell HER actions constitute HIM breaking the NDA

Daddy Snay got some some money from the Bad School. And he promised not to tell anyone except Mummy Snay, and the Nice Lawyers. But Daddy Snay and Mummy Snay told Baby Snay, even though they had promised not to. That was silly, wasn't it? And then Baby Snay went onto Facebook, which was silly, and told EVERYONE, which was even sillier. What do you think of that? Of course, then the Bad School knew that Daddy Snay must have broken his promise, so the Big Court said it was OK for the school not to give EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to Daddy Snay after all.

And Daddy and Mummy Snay were sad, but not as sad as Baby Snay, who didn't get her European holiday after all.

Hardly anyone lived happily ever after.

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Re: Something doesn't add up here...

The story here isn't "dumb kid blabs on facebook", it's "scumbag school stiffs loyal employee twice". But that just isn't newsworthy in this day and age. Especially not when the school preemptively sends out press kits about how dumb the kid is.

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Not sure what to think

I wonder if her father made it clear that they couldn't tell others about the settlement? An adult could be expected to know babbling about it would be a bad idea regardless, but teenagers are known to brag. Of course the smarter children figure early the virtue of keeping them traps shut, but not everyone can be "smarter", right? In fact I'd dare say most people have ran their mouths off at least once, and only then learned the value of thinking before spouting their hearts out. Usually though, that won't sting to the tune of 80 grand.

Also, that Facebook was the vehicle of their ruin also gets me thinking. Ten years ago the girl would have to be somewhat tech-savvy to reach beyond her real-world friends, but now, with smartphones and social networks, anyone can let the world know how immature they are at a moment's notice. It's a bit like what gun ban proponents say, if it's so easy you can do it without thinking, someone's bound to do something they'll come to regret.

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Pint

Re: Not sure what to think

"I wonder if her father made it clear that they couldn't tell others about the settlement?"

Of course not, it's Florida. It really should be it's own country, because they aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer down there.

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Meh

Re: Not sure what to think

"I wonder if her father made it clear that they couldn't tell others about the settlement?"

Doesn't matter in this instance. The settlement made clear *he* couldn't tell anyone the terms, including his daughter. Her post was apparently evidence that he had blabbed about it.

Nuts to think you can't tell your own family, but equally nuts that you can't show the outside world the cost of treating employees unfairly - settlements like these should be printed in full-page ads to deter companies from being dicks, and act as an advert to employees who don't realise they're being mistreated in a legal sense

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Thumb Down

Re: Not sure what to think

you can't show the outside world the cost of treating employees unfairly

Unfortunately, NOTHING says that anyone was being treated unfairly in the first place.

We just know the school weighted the odds and thought that defending the case would cost probably more than 80K.

These 80K are coming from where and and who would not be getting adequate educaschion because of this, btw?

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MrT
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Re: Sharpest knives...

...blunted by most of them having retired there from New Everything (York, Joisee, etc.) to end up driving around Jacksonville with their left-turn signal on all day... like my aunt and uncle, who did the east coast shuffle from Portchester

Now which chad do I punch out to make this post anonymous, so none of my friends and family in Tampa and Panama City know it's me? Okay, found it - I'm sure that's the right one...

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404
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Re: Sharpest knives...

s'ok.. Mamma Earth is slowly taking care of the issue-> sinkholes for the worst offenders.

Got a friend in Tampa. trains military/police dogs... the bitey kind lol. Wait, what are we talking about? Got a CSS problem for a website due out today...and mind is jello atm. I need a beer already.

sigh...

Oh yeah ... lawyers suck... pretty much covers subject.

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Boffin

Re: Not sure what to think

"I wonder if her father made it clear that they couldn't tell others about the settlement?"

Typical "computer geek who knows zero about the law" statement.

The father violated the agreement the second he told his family. The daughter's post on Facebook simply provided irrefutable proof of his violation. The settlement's confidentiality requirement is no different than your employer's confidentiality requirement or a defense department confidentiality requirement. Disclosing to your family, even your spouse, is a violation.

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Re: Not sure what to think

El Reg didn't mention it, but the link to the court report says the daughter was "college-aged". I think we're talking about someone who ought to have known better. Had the daughter been much younger, it is possible that the decision might have gone the other way.

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disclosure to spouse, yes or no?

While "don't tell ANYONE" is pretty cut- and- dried, in many instances spouses are exceptions to that rule and/ or get special treatment legally. I'm thinking specifically about tax returns: if Mr and Mrs Almost-Plaintiff file as "married filing jointly", surely there is a likelihood that the other spouse is going to double-check the math and say "Uh, hon? Whatsis $80K under 'miscellaneous income'?" How would one honor the "don't tell" settlement terms while keeping on the correct side of the 'Murkin IRS? (Besides just quietly socking the money away into an investment account and paying someone else to do the taxes, that is.)

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Paris Hilton

Re: Not sure what to think

Typical "computer geek who knows zero about the law" statement.

Indeed I am a computer geek who knows zero about the law. I do, however, know a thing or two about objective reality. For example, if a man breaks a non-disclosure agreement by telling it to his daughter, but she doesn't tell anyone, then it's not like lawyers can use their magical powers to find this out; without evidence they'd have no basis to go back on the settlement.

So "I wonder if her father made it clear that they couldn't tell others about the settlement?" is very well a relevant question. No bragging, no Facebook posts, no evidence, no problem.

Now a question for you: if a man breaks his non-disclosure agreement in the forest where no-one can hear him, do law geeks still get to enjoy the sound of their own keyboards as they brag about how knowledgeable they are?

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DN4

Re: Not sure what to think

> The father violated the agreement the second he told his family.

Close relatives can, in general, figure out that the case ended and the person in question received lots of $$$ without being explicitly told. So do you suggest that everyone involved in such agreement has to divorce his wife/her husband, leave his/her family and become a hermit?

I don't say that the agreement was not legally binding, I just say that there is no sane way to actually honour it.

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Re: Not sure what to think

All it would have required was to sit down with his familly, in private, explain the situation and inform them that because of the agreement they cannot speak or disclose details of the deal.. Everyone behaves like an adult, they have 80K in the bank and everything is hunky dory....

Unfortunately he had a daughter that doesn't know what "discreet" means.

These kind of deals happen every day without us knowing about them because both parties know what it means to honour the contract and remain schtoum.....

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, this really seems odd - what's the guy supposed to do, not tell even his family why there's another 80 grand in the bank? And it seems absurd to say, "OK, here's your settlement, but if at some point in the future your child says you got any money, you'll have to give it all back. So you better make sure your kid is mature and understands the consequences of her actions completely! Haha!"

As ShelLuser pointed out, 'terms' doesn't usually mean the fact that a settlement was reached; how can you be expected to keep that confidential? Seems like your family might notice that you're not going to court anymore... something is really off about this.

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Anonymous Coward

Always keep your financial situatoin away from your kids!

If they ask where the money came from suggest darkly that it was a shady deal and that, if they reveal it to anyone, hardened Mafiosi will wipe out the family and everyone they reveal it to.

Anonymous - If I were to reveal my ID I would have to kill you ALL!

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Yep, I'm pretty sure that any wife would want to know where $80K has suddenly appeared from.

And the IRS, of course.

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what's the guy supposed to do, not tell even his family why there's another 80 grand in the bank?

SUCK IT!

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Boffin

IRS

Whether a settlement is taxable depends on the details. Which is why if you are ever suing (in the US) for a significant amount of money, it's a good idea to talk to a tax attorney before settling or before the court awards you anything. Even if the settlement or award is taxable, there can sometimes be ways to structure it to lower the taxes. For example, if the award or settlement covers your legal fees, often that can be structured so that you do not have to pay taxes on the money going to your legal team. But it has to be structured properly BEFORE the award or settlement is made. You can't play around with the paperwork after the check(s) is cut.

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