Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Landlord v. Laid-Off Lawyer

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Total Black: $4,219.15
Total Red: $230,663.35

Well, it’s begun.  The suggestion in One Step Back, Two Steps Forward that I was just overreacting was unfounded.  I arrived home today from back-to-back interviews with attorney temporary staffing agencies to find a postcard in the mail from the Civil Court of the State of New York informing me that a lawsuit had been commenced against me and advising me to respond.  I guess the landlord’s attorneys have not discontinued their action against me, as I suspected in It Just Bugs Me, even though rent for September and October has already been sent in.

I caved today and borrowed two thousand dollars from my mother to pay for November’s rent.  That explains why total black is much higher.  Total red is also climbing back up.  Both worry me.  I don’t tend to tack on these small “loans” from my mother to the total red portion owed her.  I suppose I need to start.  I didn’t want to have to reach out to my mother, but I thought it would both help my standing in court to have already paid all of my back rent plus have paid November’s rent.  And, if the landlord cashes that check—which I suspect it will—then it will have agreed to the renewal of my lease, which means any breach of the former lease that they could claim will have been waived by agreeing to another lease.  The landlord can’t claim to want me out but also cash my checks under a new lease.

I’m nervous about taking this course of action.  It feels like I’m walking a dangerous path.  In the 2004 lawsuit, Ludlow Properties, LLC v. Young, which held a landlord liable for breach of the warranty of habitability because of a bedbug infestation, the respondent (another term for defendant) won about four thousand dollars.  When I saw that I felt a bit of relief.  We’re not talking significant cash here.  But I’m also including in my lawsuit a few additional claims, like negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  That provides a stronger potential for a larger award.  It means there’s a strong likelihood that the landlord will try to get me to settle this case out of court.  The question is whether I’ll stay the course or grab the money and run.  Of course, there’s also a chance that the landlord, or its attorneys, will be stubborn and actually force me to litigate this dispute.  I’ve already contacted my friends, Jen & Joe, who wrote about the bedbugs in their blog.  I’ll need them to sign affidavits to support my claims.  If I have the funds, and it were to go that far, I might fly one or both in from Oregon where they live.  They could be my star witnesses.

Despite my jocularity, I am really nervous about taking this move.  Litigation is wrought with perils: opinionated or biased judges or jurors, arrogant opposing counsel, length of time to see any movement, and on an on.  Plus, at this point, I’m pro se.  And, truth be told, I’m not that crazy about having my real name forever tied to bedbugs, even if it is a victory.  And—as silly as it may sound—it sort of feels like cheating if the court were to award me ten thousand dollars, for example.  The goal of this project is getting out of debt in a year through my own efforts, not through large windfalls like a lawsuit judgment.

But I know it’s all silly too worry about such things just now.  Just odd thoughts bubbling to the surface as I pause my legal drafting to get today’s entry posted.

Guess the next few days will tell where this litigation goes.  It was the landlord’s attorney, after all, who initially suggested I just go ahead and file an answer.  And that’s what I’m about to do.

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