Ms.Chief Judge Janet DiFiore,

Thank you for providing an opportunity for members of the public to provide feedback in regards to the current state of the legal system. I believe all legal professionals should adhere to the highest state of ethics to serve the and protect the public.

Unfortunately, our legal system can be used as a tool of abuse.   JDF_leftnavigation
Like other forms of abuse, this often goes unreported as the victims are too scared to speak out. Litigation is costly and often confusing to the uninitiated. The abusers often have a sophisticated understanding of the legal system and are aware that getting a case before a judge often takes a couple of years, due to a clogged court system.

I only know this because it happened to me.

A public servant by the name of Charles Bonfante dragged me into the legal system in April of 2014. He is a practicing attorney in Long Island. He sued me for $10,000,000 with 13 serious allegations against me. (Deceptive Trade Practices, Conspiracy for Fraud). The 112-page complaint he filed against me not only had false statements made against me, but stated that I was “too unattractive” for my job as a tribute band singer. He also stated in detail watching my videos on Youtube, being “appalled” and “immediately hating my singing”. I have been in litigation with him for two years now. I have never met him.

Two years ago, I was hired to sing in a P!NK Tribute Band completely unaware that the bass player who hired me had a falling out with Mr. Bonfante. Bonfante was the former drummer for the band I was hired to sing in. Unaware that he had plans to form his own P!NK Tribute Band, he used the legal system to knock out his former friend’s competing band.

Assembly 1Prior to filing the case, he sent two cease and desist letters for band names he did not yet own. The letters threatened years of jail time, seized assets, fines in the millions and frozen bank accounts for performing in this band.

I played one show, quit the band and signed a memorandum of law stating I was out of his former friend’s competing band. Instead of letting me out of a case I had absolutely no business being subjected to, he threatened me with a second lawsuit for defamation because his former friend was trashing him on Facebook. He stated to my lawyer that unfortunately for me, the actions of the man who hired me put me in the “unenviable position” of being in the lawyer’s crosshairs.

I am two years into litigation with over $13,000 in legal bills, while this lawyer has only Broken Legl Systemhad to pay a filing fee while representing himself. I have had to raise my legal fees online (which Bonfante has criticized me for, despite the fact that he put me in this position even though he had no business doing so). Our civil court system is so far from excellence, there is no excuse for this being allowed. I reached out to both the court system and ethics committee to let them know I was being abused by a lawyer. I was met with red tape on both ends.

I have been speaking out for two years now and am working with The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York on “Collette’s Law” to introduce tougher penalties for Plaintiff’s and Lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits as a tool of abuse.

Usually by the time a case has been thrown out of court, the defendant is out thousands of dollars, their time and is often traumatized. There’s no excuse for this!

Thank you for giving me a chance to be heard.

Collette McLafferty