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Good morning Amanda. First, they're not going to be successful with this countersuit. Courts simply don't award damages for time and travel expenses in showing up to defend a suit. So, you need not worry about that. Second, although you have a valid cause of action, due to the concept of "remaining useful life", if $789 was the cost of replacing the carpet, it will get reduced a bit because you would only be entitled to recover the cost of replacement times the remaining useful life. Since the carpet was new when they moved in, they were there about 14 months, and the useful life of rental carpet is usually about 7 years, you would only be able to recover the cost times the percentage of useful life remaining.
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You're very welcome. I would tell them "good luck" on getting an award for damages for their time and travel. But, I wouldn't tell them anything other than unless they resolve this to your satisfaction, you will see them in court. The things you reference should not preclude you from prevailing. But, I would not reply to any of their other contentions until court because there's not reason to alert them of your defenses to their claims that you had no damages.
You can never prevent them from filing such a counter suit, but they would not prevail. You can let them know if they want to make a reasonable settlement offer, you'll consider it, but only with regard to the damages, not their empty threats of their countersuit because they have no chance of prevailing in that. As long as they were properly served, they are going to have to show up or you will awarded a default judgment.
As long as the husband was properly served, he must show up and their marital assets are going to be at risk for payment of your award.
Given the history, I would not include the late rent. I don't see in what state you are located, but unless you're in TX, SC, NC or PA, in addition to going after any assets, you can also garnish their wages to collect your judgment. Plus, this judgment is going to be a noose around their neck in renting in the future and/or getting credit. :)
Yes. a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if they don't then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on them for a debtor examination. That forces them to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about their income and assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property they own to satisfy the judgment.
You are not crazy. Those are damages too even though you have yet to replace it.
If they are no longer in the county, you would not be able to serve them with a new suit in your county; you would have to sue them in your location. Although you could serve them when they come to court in your county.
Having said all the previous, if you could settle this for something close to what you're asking, you might want to settle just to avoid the toll on you and the value of your own time.
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Thanks for following up. You are correct, if they show up, the case will be heard; if they don't, they will have to make the claim that they will not properly served; otherwise, the judge will award a default judgment.
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