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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I am a landlord/ manager corp in MT that has has rental

Customer Question

I am a landlord/ manager for a corp in MT that has has rental properties. A tenant broke the lease 5 months before the lease was up and when they moved out they damaged the property. The rents owed were $1700 and damages $2400. I took them to small claims court and the judge only awarded $900 to me. The judge said there was no rent disputes when the court recordings and the papers I filed indicated there were rents owed. The tenant testimony contradicted written letters from them that I presented as evidence. In the letters they said the damage was there when they moved in and in their testimony they said there was no damage. Both the testimony and letter was false in that they damaged the property. I feel the judge made errors in his rulings, or was biased/prejudiced, or both in his rulings. No attorney wants to take up this case because they don't want to get on the bad side of this judge since they have to deal with him daily. What MT statutes did this judge break?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon. What was the $900 award for? If the Judge said you failed to state a cause of action to recover unpaid rent, was the $900 the finding of damages caused by the tenant?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The $900 was for the some of the damages. The judge didn't say I failed to state a cause of action to recover unpaid rents. I presented the judge with copies of the signed lease agreements plus I provided him copies of the property checklist which was signed by the tenant. The ruling was that there was no rent disputes when evidence and testimony indicated there was dispute.
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the additional information. If you alleged in your complaint a there was a breach of the lease agreement and that you tried to mitigate damages and could not and as a result, suffered X amount in damages, it should have been ordered by the Judge. If evidence was presented, that is clear cut and the Judge ignored it and/or failed to consider it, then there would be grounds to appeal the findings. Moreover, if you presented evidence to show that the rental was not returned in the same condition as when it was given to the tenant, you could recover as well. A Judge always has to weigh the evidence presented. Even though a Judge may not rule in favor of a party, does not mean they were bias or error. However, if the evidence is clear cut and it can be viewed that it should simply have not been ignored, then an appeal can succeed. When you ask what statutes the Judge broke, it is that the Judge failed to follow the letter of the law, when there was evidence to support your causes of action and that there was no basis or rationale for their findings.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What exact MT statutes/ law did the judge break?
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.

I am going to opt out, so another expert can assist. Please hold.

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

New expert here.

The judge did not "break a statute" (judges do not "break statutes" in issuing judgments, they do however make rulings that are an "Abuse of Discretion" (see: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15654337931870407743&q=abuse+of+discretion&hl=en&as_sdt=4,27 for an example, I am excerpting the language discussing this standard below):

You do however have a bigger problem than simply identifying the standard for which to file your appeal. As noted in your original question, you have a corporation that you are trying to represent and you need a licensed MT attorney to represent you.

Fortunately you do not need a local attorney for this (you can find any MT attorney - preferably a civil litigation attorney with some experience in appeals work - to represent you). Appellate work is done almost entirely on paper and there is very rarely any oral argument (particularly on a matter as small as this one).

You can find appellate attorneys using the State and local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as www.AVVO.com; www.FindLaw.com; or www.Martindale.com (I personally find www.AVVO.com to be the most user friendly).