The most-read story in this newspaper in 2015 was one published in March about a contest to win an inn. The lede was “What’s the price of a dream?”

Seven thousand two hundred fifty-five people forked over $125 and a 200-word essay about why they were best suited to take the reins of a quaint 200-year-old bed-and-breakfast by Kezar Lake in Lovell.

The winner was Prince Adams along with his wife, Rose, who wears cool glasses and has a cute son.

Coming in at 48 out of 50 was the follow-up story published in August about the same inn and contest – but this time it reported on all of the sore losers who “from the moment a winner was picked … were convinced the contest was rigged” and began complaining and hatching conspiracy theories why Prince is not fit to be king.

Over the span of six months this fairytale “devolve(d) into an online cesspool of negativity, turning strangers against one another” because a bunch of crybabies are actually offended that the winner has hospitality experience. How’s that for hospitality?

A two-week investigation by the State Police found no foul play, but still there remains a bitter and angry mob complaining and making demands, throwing a heavy wet blanket on Prince and Rose’s foray into Maine, the way life shouldn’t be.

One story that didn’t make the top 50 list is about another contest and a woman who tries to play by the rules but keeps getting hit by a system that’s unscrupulous and illegal.

Jane called me out of the blue and asked nicely if I might lend an ear and possibly a hand, and something in the weight and tremble of her voice kept me listening. I’m glad I did. What I discovered is that there really are rigged contests and they often take place in a courthouse.

This story starts with a predatory loan to repair a house located miles from the ocean but nevertheless underwater. In the whirlwind of the economy crashing, a diabetes diagnosis and a broken ankle, a foreclosure proceeding was commenced against Jane by a “bank” she had never heard of demanding nearly double the amount of her original loan.

Jane is in her 60s, blind, very bright, patient, resourceful and poor. She spent hundreds of hours on the phone trying to reach a person to help her resolve the foreclosure action and work out a repayment plan, but before she called me things had spiraled out of her control over the course of several years despite her best efforts and challenges.

Tossed from call center to call center, Jane was forever kept on hold and was never able to connect with anyone with information about her loan or how it could have possibly ballooned so much. Nobody could help her. Meanwhile, the alleged debt kept increasing at a rapid clip, the lawsuit marched on and the “bank” kept changing names.

Jane’s loan had been bundled, securitized and sold to investors – something she found out on her own doing research on an old computer. That might explain why when she attended numerous mandatory mediation sessions, there never was a representative with authority available to agree on a resolution. Years of delay by the “bank” caused the debt to increase so much, it went beyond the maximum amount that could be refinanced under the government-sponsored programs put in place to help people like her.

She got her trial and judgment was entered for Jane. The defendant “bank” didn’t have the original note, could not prove it owned the debt or calculate with any degree of accuracy the balance of the loan. Payments Jane had made had not been credited, but none of this prevented the “bank” from appealing to the state supreme court, causing Jane more anxiety and bewilderment.

She won her appeal and gets to keep her beloved little house. Shortly after her foreclosure nightmare finally ended, Jane was served with two more lawsuits, again by an organization she had never heard of nor done business with, and again an entity without anyone with whom she could communicate. This time it was over student loans that had been discharged on account of her disability. She again made dozens and dozens of calls trying to understand what was going on.

I’m happy to report that both lawsuits have since been dismissed. Despite attempts to drag Jane down and out of her castle by a system that’s rigged to make the rich richer and the poor give up, she helps others, expresses gratitude and doesn’t complain a lot.

People sniveling and whining about losing a gamble to win an inn to a Prince and Rose should take a lesson from Jane. The price for their dream pales in comparison to the cost of her nightmare.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: dillesquire

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