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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Attorney
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I was sued by my HOA in small claims court in July 2013. I

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I was sued by my HOA in small claims court in July 2013. I owed them 8300.00 and the mediator made mention that she did not think they could get the balance over 5000.00 if the continued with the case. I was paying them $100 a month and the Judge ordered me
to continue to pay $100 until the balance of $5000.00 is paid. My question is can they
sue me for the balance of $3300. after I pay off the $5000?
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I look forward to assisting you today. I bring nearly 20 years of experience in various legal disciplines.

Did the judge issue an order in the case stating that you had a judgment against you for the amount of $5000?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes

Ok. If the judge actually issued an order stating that the amount owed was only $5000 (because that was the total amount that the court could issue an order for), then you could not be sued for the remaining $3300.

The concept of res judicata or collateral estoppel simply means that a person may not relitigate an issue that was decided by a court in a judgment.

Now, I have to be clear here. If the court did not issue a judgment specifically stating that you only owed $5000, then the issue was never actually decided by the court.

Let me give you an example. Let's say that the court orders you to go to mediation (which is not court....no decision of law is made there). You agree to pay $100 a month. During that mediation, the mediator does mention that small claims only allows for a maximum of $5000. The plaintiff acknowledges that. You agree, in mediation, to paying $100 a month. The court dismisses the claim.

You pay $100 a month, and end at $5000. If the statute of limitations has not run, they could still sue you for the remaining $3300. The reason is that, in the scenario that I mentioned, there was no final resolution by the court. The court didn't issue an order, but rather, dismissed the claim because you reached an agreement for payments in the mediation.

So, what really matters, in terms of the answer to the question, is what exactly the court did here. Not the mediator, who has no deciding authority at all. If the judge issued an order, and that order states that you owe $5000, the issue can't be relitigated.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We did talk to a mediator, and the mediator did not want to be quoted, but stated that if they went into court for the $5000.00 that she did not think that they could ask for the $3300 because it was a part of the case.

Ok. The reason that the mediator did not want to be quoted is because the mediator understood that nothing he/she says is binding or is law.

So, nothing that the mediator worked out between you is binding.

True if you had gone to court, the maximum that they could have gotten against you was $5000 at one time.

But again, the only way that you have a binding judgment that you only owe $5000 is if the judge (not the mediator) specifically issued an order stating that you only owe $5000. I'm not talking about some statement from a mediator that that is what the court could have done. That doesn't work here.

You have to specifically have a final order and judgment from the court, which states that you only owe $5000. That is the only way, in the future, to be able to use the concepts of res judicata and collateral estoppel. You have to be able to show, to any future court, an order and judgment which already resolves the facts of the case.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have my court order from the Judge ordering me to pay the $5000.00 and the HOA treasurer is harrassing me I know because she stated in mediation that she was told by an attorney that she could collect the intire amount. But we could not come to an agreement in mediation so we went into court and the judge said couldn't work it out between you and we said no. So she issue the order to do exacting what I had been doing all along.

Ok. Then you have the order.

The mediation as absolutely no legal bearing on anything going forward. What their attorney may be telling them is also irrelevant.

There is an order giving a judgment for the total of $5000. That is all they can get.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is there a legal paragraph I can quote to this person from the law book because she is very irritating. She is also a neighbor and I need her to


stay in her space as a neighbor although I know she is on the board.


Since this case the HOA has hired a new company. We should have never went to court and I wrote a letter to the judge stating all they had to do was to ask me to pay more, they never did just opt to take me to court and the judge kept everything in my favor to continue paying $100 a month. We


tried to work it out in mediation but they were not willing, so we ended up


back in the court room which now Im happy we did.


 

Just cite to her the concept of res judicata and collateral estoppel.

There aren't books on law in the way that you are thinking. Most of these concepts are simply common law, which we learn in law school, that comes up in cases.

So, if you look for case law using those two terms in your state, on google, you'll find plenty of recent cases that apply the concept of law.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank You

No problem. Take care.

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