Monday, March 10, 2008

Small Claims Court

Remember my faithless friend (Zen), the deadbeat tenant who left the premises a horrifying mess? Well, today we went to court.

My witnesses included the lady who helped clean and work on the repairs after Zen and her tribe (her dope-smoking son and his girlfriend) moved out. I also had the handyman who had repaired everything, and the new tenant who had seen the place in good condition prior to Zen moving in, bad condition the day after Zen and her tribe moved out, and restored to good condition once again.

Zen brought her sister.

I produced expert testimony and truthful witnesses as well as receipts and dates.

Zen produced invalid arguments which had nothing to do with the claims.

Zen owed me $1050 in back rent, over $1050 in back rent due to the mobile home park, and over $2800 in materials and labor to restore the home which she and her tribe trashed. In fact, she owed me even more than that, but I wanted to do the fair and honorable thing and only go for the minimum expenses which she incurred.

When I first filed, I mistakenly filed for a judgement of $4100. The total came to over $5100. However, I told the judge I would be happy to even just recoup the $4100 rather than go through any elaborate refilings and enlisting the witnesses all over again.

Zen repeatedly blathered on, asking inane questions and continually disregarding the judge's instructions to stay on point. Zen didn't care whom she annoyed, however: She was determined to try to prove that I was dishonorable in some way.

Although I never quite understood what Zen was driving at, I am guessing she was hoping that the judge would believe that I was some kind of bully who had forced her to live for 9 months in an upgraded trailer with a rent-to-own agreement. (Prior to that, she drifted from one hotel room to another, dragging her son from one hotel to the next).

Oddly, Zen kept emphasizing what great friends we had once been, which only made her look even worse. I'm not sure what she hoped to gain by it, but that made it quite obvious that she had been taking advantage of our friendship, and I was still not being spiteful about it.

Zen's arguments were patently transparent, and her self-serving lies and self-indulgence shown through like rays of sun through a plate glass window.

Her sister's testimony didn't help her at all. Her sister's bias was obvious (which was strange to see, as Zen had repeatedly told me in the past how very much she hated her sister and found her to be controlling and sanctimonious). I guess in this case blood is thicker than water.

So now we sit back and wait to see what the judgement will be. The judge will be issuing a written judgement which will be mailed to us. I am hoping I will get even more than I asked for, but I doubt that she will grant me that. So, I will be content with what I can get, and chalk up the remainder to a lesson paid for.

What's that lesson?

Don't overextend yourself to friends, and trust no one. From now on when someone needs a handout, I'm busy that day.


Uncle Joe said...

Trust me.
You're doing the right thing.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I could use a place to live. A wet slip with shore power, water, and a pump out connection. It should be able to accommodate a 35 foot sailboat. The slip should have a depth of at least 6 feet or so at low low tide (yes there is a low tide and a low low tide), and there should be a channel with a controlling depth of the same leading to open water.

And I only want to pay $50 a month for it :)

Look at it this way - it is impossible to trash a wet slip. There are no walls to rip out and no windows to smash. Assuming that I own the sailboat and I am not renting that too.

My legal issue is a bit more complicated. It is an employment issue. A job offer was made to me and I took it. I started the whole background check process. Then it was recended and I was told it would not be filled at all. Then later I find out it was downgraded (minimum qualifications were lowered) and given to a part time employee with NO LAYOFF RIGHTS (per County rules). The guy supposedly qualifies for it - but the qualifications had to be lowered for this to happen. And the job also requires you to be able to write reports and shit in English - which the guy can not do. He was never interviewed for any position and only got his part time job because of a political appointment (former County Commissioner put him there).

My emails to people regarding how this is a valid legal process are being ignored. Well ignore a letter from my lawyer. Lets see them do that.

At this point I want one of two things to happen.

1. I want the job offered to me that I accepted.

2. I want the manager who pulled this illegal bullshit FIRED, and I also want a settlement from the County for whatever I can squeeze out of them. Ill let the lawyer figure out the amount that should be, with the agreement that they get to keep 40% or so of it. This way the lawyer will think big. The more I get the more they get.

It is personal. At least this is the way I am taking it.

krok14 said...


I actually wish I knew you so I could beat some sense into you.

Excellent post.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Krok, no worries, I finally learned my lesson. I really did! I've thought long and hard about it, and I realized that I gave her many breaks when I shouldn't have. I also gave her credit where none was due. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt appears to be not merely Polyanna, but downright naive. Not again.

Uncle Joe, which part was the right thing? Helping her or taking her to court when she took advantage of me? I think the first part was the wrong thing and this is why: I have a child whose future needs to be thought of. He will be starting college this year. Instead of putting the money away or socking it into an IRA, I put it into someone else who had never done anything to earn it. When people don't work for something, they don't generally appreciate it. It was a waste of my son's future, pure and simple.

Lazy, I'm sorry to hear about your loser employer. I would definately get legal advice. If there's anything I've learned, it's that it never pays to walk away from a fight that is so easy to win. I'm not saying it merely because of this recent experience - I'm saying it because you need to do others a favor. If they can treat YOU that way, you know that they have and will treat others the same way.

Yeah - the wet slip sounds nice. I have fallen in love with a massive tri-maran and would seriously consider selling everything I own and buying it, and settling down for good in it.

You drive a hard bargain! A year ago, you might've talked me into it! :D

M@ said...

Loaning money is the best way to lose a friend... or a girlfriend.

daveawayfromhome said...

Helping a friend is the right thing to do. You just went too far. You ought to have backed off after the auto-buying episode, because that should have made clear the lack of responsibility this woman possessed. When people insist on making stupid mistakes, let'em.

mckay said...

it's okay to be generous and kind. you meant well and it backfired by a low life who doesn't know how to treat other's property. good for you for keeping track of all the receipts and stuff. sounds like the judge can only rule in your favor.



Ed Abbey said...

I think getting a favorable judgement will be the easy part. Collecting your money from someone who apparently has little to no assets is an entirely different ballgame. Up here, that requires a second trip to court to garnish a paycheck if there is nothing worth putting a lein on. Even then, most people without assets seem to get paid mostly in cash, which is even harder to track and thus garnish. I've personally been involved in a couple favorable settlements and have not yet gotten a dime.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, You're right but luckily I have a plan. ;o)

McKay, Thanks hon. As Ed points out, my battle's just begun, but I still think it's important.

Daveawayfromhome, you're right - I shouldn't have helped her buy the car. I also fronted her insurance initially. :P Dope that I am...

m@, you said it! Ronald Reagan once said that people seem to despise the very hand that is helping them, and I've seen it here and can attest to it. They are initially grateful and then resentful. Is it because they didn't get enough? Is it because they don't like feeling obligated? Or both?

Scott said...

Hope that the win comes through quickly for you.

Too bad that you don't want to trust people though. That seems kind of sad, no?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Scott, no... not really sad. Is it sad when we learn our lessons and start to grow as humans? Is it sad when we realize our limits? I think that trust comes in levels. When I say I'm going to trust no one, I mean that I will trust no one with such an extreme expenditure/waste of my own money. I might trust them to let out my dogs, feed my bird, or wash my car. I just can't trust them with the big stuff.

Deb said...

It is hard to trust when you've been hurt like this. But going to small claims was a great idea. I believe the judge will rule in your favor.

Keep us posted.

AQ said...

I would've liked to see this case on Judge Judy - she would've given Zen an earful!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Deb, Thanks! I love your blog, btw, and I've added it to my links. ;o)

AQ, so nice to see you again, hon! Yeah... one of my friends suggested Judge Judy but that woman TERRIFIES me.

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Oh, that`s awful! I hope you get every penny back that is owed to you!!


Mr. Grey Ghost said...

Yeah, I remember when you first talked about this..."friends" like her are scary. But from what you described in the post, unless the judge is an utter fool, you'll win and hopefully get your money.