Philadelphia Skyline

You Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em - Buyouts on the Eve of the Altman Case

May 13, 2018

I was representing a tenant in a buyout case. My strongest argument for getting the tenant a healthy buyout was based upon the ill-fated Altman case. If Altman remained the law of the land, my client would be able to demand a lot of money from her landlord in exchange for her apartment. If, however, the case went down in flames, I still had some arguments, but they were not as nearly as potent. The attorney for the landlord faced the same dilemma I did. The second Altman came down, one of us would be a big winner and one a big loser. I don’t love those positions, I don’t find them exciting. The law shouldn’t be a game, and, when stakes are high, people’s futures hang in the balance.

The week that the ruling was due out, I convinced my client to take a conservative number. Well, landlord’s counsel did not find the number “conservative”, she thought it was high. Let’s just say the number was lower than we wanted and higher than landlord wanted. In any event, it didn’t take much convincing, because my client didn’t love rolling the dice either. She packed everything, put her stuff in storage, and rented an Airbnb. She arrived at my office with luggage as we went to the surrender ceremony to get her check.

The very next morning, the Altman case, and my best arguments…a lot of people’s best arguments…went away. I was so very glad that I had convinced my client to take the dollars on the table. I kept walking around all day humming that old Kenny Rogers tune, the Gambler:

You got to know when to hold ‘em,
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run,
You never count your money when yer sitting at the table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin',
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowin' what to keep,
'Cause every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in yer sleep.

Respectfully submitted,

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