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  • Diana Schneidman

Goats, Lehman Brothers and what it says about our getting paid

The Wall Street Journal recently reported how Goats R Us was stiffed to the tune of $53,000 by Lehman Brothers Holdings.

SunCal Cos., a land developer financed by Lehman Brothers Holdings, hired 1,000 goats to prevent fires on an Oakland, CA, property. (The goats eliminate at-risk vegetation by grazing on it.)

When the time came to collect on the bill, the Goats R Us owner discovered that the SunCal unit, a limited liability company, had filed for bankruptcy protection in the aftermath of Lehman’s collapse and bankruptcy filing. Litigation continues between Lehman and SunCal, but the WSJ characterizes Goats R Us as “left high and dry.”

This colorful story reminds us that as freelancers, it’s important to get paid up front as much as possible for our work regardless of the size of our clients. Or in fact, as greater numbers of the largest companies file for bankruptcy, it’s especially important to collect early in the game from our largest customers.

About 450 creditors are still awaiting payment by SunCal, suggesting that the total number of businesses left in the lurch by Lehman Brothers (including freelancers and consultants) may be in the thousands.

Originally posted 2-2-09

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