Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX X'X a Business litigation attorney here to assist you.
You have very solid proof and they have essentially admitted to abusing your property, using it without your permission, trespassed and breached its fiduciary duty to you as custodian over the property for these past few years. Thus, you have an extremely solid case based on what you've posted here.
I don't believe in slam dunks, but I think you certainly have a viable, solid case (about as close to a slam dunk as you can get) that proves you've been wronged.
The big issue is how much is the case worth? I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you this!! However, I do believe they will claim that you're not entitled to rent because you elected not to rent your unit, leaving it vacated. Thus, it's not like they intentionally didn't rent your unit in order to have them a place to crash while at work. I think this is a weak argument, but it's the best I can see that they can make given the information here.
Your argument is that you shouldn't be taken advantage of because you want to keep your unit from being rented and that the company breached its fiduciary duty and trespassed intentionally several times into your unit. Because of the long and intentional actions, I think you'd have a claim for the use of the property at the daily rate. Also, I would recommend that you seek money for any damages, needed repairs, etc. caused by their illegal use. You also have a claim for their breach of fiduciary duty to you and trespassing.
I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for the full $132k, plus any damage repair costs plus a little for the fiduciary breach and trespassing.
I would highly recommend that you consult a local attorney about this before you open negotiations to settle, but I think $200k is a conservative demand.
If you were to sue, I think you'd have a right to seek punitive damages because of the breach of trust that this creates for the other 400+ owners that may also be victims of something like this; this, added to the intentional trespassing, you could get into some serious money (punitive are allowed at up to 9 times the actual damages).
Thus, I would suggest that you speak to a local attorney and discuss the case; once you've had time to consider your damages, make a demand and see where it goes from there.
SOmewhat better than what I expected. Are you at all familiar with California? It is unique in many ways, however, ususally consumer favorable. Would you say your answer is based on basic civil/criminal code that is pretty universal in most states or could California law differ significantly in this sort of situation.
I am not licensed in California, but I have actually been involved in several mass tort cases in your state. Thus, I have some working knowledge of the system there.
However, by and large, my response is based on basic "horn book" contract and tort law, which is the same in every state. The comment about punitive damages is actually based on a recent US Supreme Court decision that says punitive damages are capped at the compensatory amount times a single digit multiplier (9 being the highest). Thus, if you were to sue and get $50,000 in damages for these guys trashing your property, you could seek up to $450,000 in punitives.
I think the utter disregard of your property which they were entrusted AND paid to handle was being abused on a daily basis is a very solid claim for the damages you seek.
I don't expect the company to simply write you a check for $200k without some legal wrangling, but I think at the end of the day, you've got them in a corner.
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