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Published Feb. 19, 2008

Q: I hope you can help us or at least give us guidance. My husband and I are seniors and have never had a problem like this.

On July 27, 2006, we were at a local warehouse store waiting for a parking space. A parked car backed out of its space without looking and hit the passenger side of our car. The proper information was exchanged, along with apologies from the offending driver. We received a letter from Penta Insurance Adjusters of Miami on July 28, saying it was handling the claim. We filled out all the paperwork, sent it back and began waiting.

Time passed, and we contacted the adjusters to find out what was happening. We were told they were waiting for a statement from the insured. They said they had been unable to locate him. We tried as well but had no better luck. Perhaps he moved or his contact information was bogus?

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles could not help. We contacted a lawyer, but he said all we could do is go after the other driver, but not the insurance company.

We just don't know who can help us pay the $1,000 repair bill.

June Hill

A: The driver who hit you was insured by Star Casualty Insurance, which used Penta Insurance Adjusters for your claim. It was Jamile Muro, says a representative with Star, who answered your complaint.

Muro explained the claim was delayed because the insured was uncooperative. She phoned you to apologize and told me the company's "sole objective is to resolve this matter immediately."

It did.

An adjuster came out the next day, and Muro followed up to tell me a check had been mailed to cover your repairs. I trust you've received it by now.

Neither hide nor hair

Q: I would like to know how to go about getting a partial refund from a laser hair removal business, Sona Medspa, which has now closed its doors.

I signed a contract in August 2006 for four treatments over one year, plus one year of free touch-ups. I paid a total of $540 up front. After two treatments, the business closed. I understand the business is a franchise of Sona Medspa International Inc.

How can I find out if the business filed for bankruptcy? If so, how do I file a claim?

I understand the laser hair removal business is commonly a short-lived one because there is a lack of new customers.

Anne Cooper

A: I'm not sure a lack of new customers is a problem for this business. We live in Florida, after all. With access to beautiful beaches, and lots of outdoor activities available, it's easy to see how permanent hair removal would attract customers.

These facilities and other "medical spas" that might offer cosmetic procedures like Botox and skin resurfacing must be overseen by a licensed doctor in Florida. Sona Medspa International lists Dr. Carolyn Moore as its Tampa medical director, even though it no longer operates a facility there. I checked with the Florida Department of Health and there is no Carolyn Moore licensed as an M.D. in any county in the state. Whether she was in 2006 is unclear.

Vennlaser LLC, doing business as Sona Medspa, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Dec. 8, 2006. The case was converted to Chapter 7 Jan. 12. No assets were reported, and the case was closed March 16. If you'd like further information, call the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida toll-free at 1-866-879-1286. The automated case lookup system will direct you.

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