In a previous post I wrote of a tenant who filed suit against my company nearly two years after vacating the property. She had no evidence and the judge seemed not to care. On the first hearing in court, I carried 3 notarized statements from eye-witnesses, one of them being by the constable who supervised the eviction from which stemmed the suit.
I learned something that first day in court. Notarized statements are not acceptable testimonies in JP court, and asking for a continuance is a great course of action to secure more time to better prepare for a law suit.
The claim was that my company had stolen a refrigerator and stove. Of course the claim was false. Still, anybody can sue another for anything. I had no choice but to fight the suit which amounted to a dollar amount of $2,500.00 and a declaration against my company’s reputation.
The second appearance in court seemed better, but I still left without the judge’s verdict. Even though I had produced an eye witness and was successful in cross-examining the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s witnesses, the judge still allowed the tenant another opportunity to bring evidence.
In the first court hearing, the plaintiff had with her a receipt from an appliance rental company where she allegedly had purchased a refrigerator and stove. The receipt did not show paid, and there was no indication that the stove and refrigerator were the ones in question.
In the second hearing, she did not bring the receipt, which was her only evidence other than her dad and the neighbor across the street, neither of which was present during the eviction set-out.
The plaintiff had all but destroyed the refrigerator and stove which she claimed we had taken. She had rammed a large truck into the house, cut the phone lines and pulled the lighting off the walls, among various other damages.
Finally, the judge did accept the notarized statement from the constable who worked for her precinct court system. The next two weeks of waiting produced a little anxiety for me, because what was happening didn’t seem right. I can only tell you that I did not hear anything from the judge’s court until I called them. The first call produced the response, “We’ll get back to you”. A week later, my call produced, “The plaintiff receives nothing”. I was glad to hear it, but am still puzzled by the thrilling conclusion.
Since the tenant was living in the property when we assumed management, we had no documented proof that the stove and refrigerator did not belong to her. Still, she was given 30 day notice to vacate by the court. She was also served 3-day notice with writ of possession by the constable. By that, she had plenty of time to take anything out of the house that she wanted, hers or not. We are not thieves. Had she simply allowed the items to remain on the property, it could have been sorted out. These were points of fact that the judge recognized. I think this is what served against Plaintiff. The company did set the stove and refrigerator outside after it was damaged by Plaintiff. We had photos of them being there. Keep your files. You may someday need evidence.
Until next time,