Dear Sir or Ma'am, I am the defendant in a civil lawsuit. I have a past landlord who filed a civil summons against me to evict me (i'm gone from there) and for $12,300. The suit is spurious and the amount in dispute could be said to be $600. I have a counterclaim of a much greater amount, including attorney fees and which includes triple damages under MA law for my landlord not accounting for my security deposit. My lawyer provided the paperwork showing the amount in dispute is $600, that I have a counterclaim and suggested that we all just walk away. My question is.. should I have to walk away from my solid counterclaim and what can I do? Can I not go back and file a suit against the former landlord or how should I handle? THe court case is still active and scheduled for July 19th. Thank you.Karen
Country relating to Question: United States
Still have an active suit, a lawyer, suggested the case be dismissed.
Hi Karen. Your attorney probably recognizes that there is always risk and cost associated with Litigation and is suggesting a way out for you that reduces your risk and potential cost. For example, litigation is not predictable. Strange things can happen. Let's say the judge buys your landlord's story and you lose the case. This loss could cost you $12,300 (worst case). I realize this may not happen and that this may be the worst case scenario for you, but there is a chance that it can happen. Rather than risk that chance, your lawyer is suggesting that both parties simply walk away and dismiss their cases. If you agree and the other party agree to both walk away, both his complaint and your Counterclaim would go away forever. Neither of you would be able to ever bring it again, even in another court. So, the question comes down to how sure you are of your case, how sure you are that landlord will never win his case, and how much risk are you willing to take.
I have the check copies and statements which clearly show that I paid all required rents minus $600. Yet my attorney will not state that the paperwork will exonerate me. My question and wonderment is that how could it not? Thank you.
Thank you for the additional information, Karen. By your admission, you still owe the landlord $600 of unpaid rent, is that correct? If so, then you would end up with a judgment for $600 plus interest and court costs, etc. against you, which would report on your credit for ten years. You may also win your counterclaim for whatever amount might be owed to you for the deposit issue, but it does seem clear that you have no defense for the $600 (if I understand you correctly. I still understand the logic of walking away, unless the $600 judgment is worth the counterclaim and you are absolutely sure that your counterclaim will win. As an attorney, this is how I would evaluate my client's case, so my client is not taking undue risk.
Yes, I owe him $600 for partial month rent. Dates to November 2011. Even if I paid it, I get a judgement on my credit record? If I won the counterclaim at some level would I still get a judgement on my credit record? My counterclaim is for the $5400 plus attorney fees plus damages for various issues that occurred to me while in the home. The total counterclaim is around $32000.
Yes, you would still lose and end up with a judgment for the $600. That is why a settlement might be a better option, unless the $600 judgment is worth the bet on the counterclaim. You might also proceed through the suit for awhile and work your counterclaim toward trial. If it looks good for you, the landlord may offer a dismissal on his claim and some money to you toward your counterclaim. The only risk with that strategy is you have to probably spend some attorney's fees to get you there.
The 'settlement' that was offered via letter was for all to walk away. But I am just wondering if that was the best route to go. It may not be agreed to anyway by the plaintiff, depending on whether they want to continue and risk the success of hte counterclaim. So I didn't know if, my lawyer, having already proposed a walk away option, that negates my option to do a settlement. Is this now the path I'm committed to unless they don't agree? And then do we go for mediation/settlement outside of the courtroom? Sorry, I've never been involved in such and don't know the rules.
First, your attorney shouldn't offer any settlement on your behalf unless you agree. However, if your attorney is not that excited about your counterclaim, I'd be interested to know why. If your counterclaim is strong and your potential reward is large, it might make sense to litigate for a bit. The better your counterclaim begins to look during the litigation, the more chance you have of a better deal than simply a "walk away." Perhaps the first step is to have a serious conversation with your attorney about the chances of your counterclaim. If you trust the advice of your attorney, I would go from there. By proposing the walk-away scenario, he is telling me he isn't that excited about your counterclaim. That's the discussion I might want to have first.
Corporate, Real Estate, Estate Planning, Probate and General Litigation attorney 14+ years
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