The last post I did on a homeowner’s association lawsuit I recently concluded that began when the homeowner’s association made a claim for roughly $3,000 and ended with a judgment of nearly $50,000 generated quite a bit of attention, so I wanted to follow up with some more details.
This case was a very ugly example of something I see far too often….homeowner’s and condominium associations pushing way too hard, being far too aggressive when they try to collect from their residents. This particular case was even more damming because the debt the homeowner’s association was trying to collect had been sold to a third party and it was the third party debt purchaser that was actually pushing the litigation. After I deposed the officers of the homeowner’s association, it became crystal clear that the homeowner’s association did not in fact want to pursue my client, but that the debt collectors were really pushing all this litigation. Not only did the former president of the association support my client, she was in fact quite critical of the debt buyers.
Read here from her deposition transcript:
16 Q. And tell me what were your reservations?
17 A. Well, I really don’t know how to say it.
18 They’re shysters. I don’t know how else to say it.
19 They’re shysters.
20 Q. Why are they shysters?
21 A. Because they’re out to rip people off. They
22 don’t care about other people. It’s just about them
23 making money.
24 Q. When you say “rip people off,” even the
1 A. They’ll rip off anybody. It’s all about them
2 making money. They don’t care how they get it, where
3 they get it from. They just want to make money, and
4 they don’t care who they hurt in the long run.
5 Q. And that statement there comes from your
6 personal experience —
7 A. Yes.
Turning specifically to the lawsuit and my client, the former president made it clear that not only did the board not want to sue my client…but that he was in fact a, “good neighbor”:
2 Q. And that wasn’t something the board wanted to
4 A. We had absolutely nothing to do with that.
5 Q. Because the board had agreed, pay us the 3500
7 A. Right. He was a good neighbor.
8 Q. And did Mike want to do the right thing?
9 A. He did.
The whole lawsuit should not have been pursued from the beginning, but because the debt had been turned over to this third party, the homeowner’s association lost the ability to try and work with my client directly. I spent years trying desperately to get the greedy debt collectors to try and back down. My favorite part of the hearing came when an attorney for the debt collector asked me in front of the judge,
“Mr. Weidner, what does this email mean when you said this lawsuit was going to cost the association six figures in attorney’s fees?”
It was a rather odd line of questioning that I was only too happy to explain to the good judge….
“Judge, when you look at all my emails going back more than 3 years, you see that I continued to warn the plaintiffs that they are not acting in good faith. Frankly the $50,000 that I’m asking you to award is at least half of what it should be.”
The final hearing kept getting continued when the HOA attorney whined to the judge that somehow they were not prepared or that they should be given more chances. The judge was happy to oblige and give them every opportunity to explain themselves, but in the end, they just got a longer rope to hang themselves with. A big problem is far too often, people just aren’t willing to put up the kind of fight and show the kind of resolve that it took my client to stay in the fight for so long. Which reminds us of the old saying that,
“All it takes for greed and evil to prevail is for good people to not be willing to fight!”
Today, the good guys won…and that’s a great thing!