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legal advice for cat

updated mon 10 sep 01


Craig Martell on sat 8 sep 01


You have already received some very good advice and a great deal of support
from Clayart. I would just add a couple of things.

Since this woman who wiped out some of your pots and your rug hasn't
contacted you thru a lawyer or actually started legal proceedings against
you, don't be intimidated or in a big hurry to resolve this. If she's only
asking for $287 this would be a small claims court thing if it goes that
far. But, you need a real lawyer to predict and deal with her course of
action. At present, there's no decision against you and you are not
obligated to compensate her. She may have a real tough time proving
culpability. I don't think a judge would give much weight to her sister's
opinion so she has to come up with people who will support her version of
what happened.

Perhaps you should think about how this obstacle will affect you in the
future, if you haven't already thought about this. If you go ahead and
settle this as quickly as possible and pay off, how will you feel about it
later? Will you let it bother you because some opportunist got away with
collecting when the whole thing may have been her fault? If this incident
is going to cost you $600 in pots, a rug, $287 in medical expenses and a
lot of angst down the road, I would go the full out route to fight. But
this is just my opinion and I'm not in your shoes.

Wishing you the best, Craig Martell in Oregon

Imzadi Donelli on sun 9 sep 01

<< If she's only asking for $287 this would be a small claims court thing
if it goes that far. >>

This is true. Anything under $2000 is considered a Small Claims Court
proceeding. You could in fact take the initiative and file a suit of your own
in Small Claims Court for say $800. ($600 for your pots, plus $200 for the
loss of potential sales that someone else wrote about here. It really doesn't
matter the "potential" amount and whether it is reasonable, as you will see
below. This is just strategy.) Or countersue her if she goes ahead and files

(The following info is from personal experience and from a few other people I
know who've filed claims.)
What usually happens in Small Claims Court is that the court usually wants as
few cases to go before the actual judge as possible -- otherwise the cases to
appear before the judge would be lined up outside the door. Instead, they
offer mediation when BOTH parties actually show up for the hearing. Now that
you are both facing each other, you both go off into a mediation room with a
mediator to try to settle out your differences and work out an agreeable
settlement for both. Since you are asking for much more money than she is,
YOU actually stand to gain if she has to pay you the difference. Or she could
back down and want to drop the case. You could both then decide to each suck
up your individual losses and go home. (Which is what you actually wanted at
the booth.) The mediator writes this down, case is settled. This is what
happens in an ideal situation.

Most of the time, if both cases are suing, if one party does not appear, the
case is postponed (like 2 times) to give that party a chance to appear. The
party that did show up, doesn't automatically win, and/or the case isn't
automatically thrown out. This can drag the case out, over a length of time,
and waste the time of the party which does appear. Extremely frustrating if
yo are the one appearing. However, if YOU use this strategy, (I am not
necessarily advocating this, so no flaming please!) YOU can effectively drag
the case out, to see how serious she is in collecting, she might give up as
she sees her time is being dragged out and wasted. etc. But more than likely,
if she is serious, honest and likely to pay, she will want to settle in her
favor as you are asking for way more money. Especially if she considers the
Potential losses amount unreasonable. The point is to just get her to show up
so it can be worked out.

Go down to Small Claims Court yourself, WHEN COURT IS IN SESSION, not during
the times to just file a claim. Talk to a mediator yourself to get more
educated on how the system really works.

People who actually end up in Small Claims Court, find out the sad reality
that: if you do win, and she ends up having to pay you, don't count on
actually seeing the money. There is a long, involved procedure to actually,
physically get the other party to pay any money. It is one thing to legally
WIN the case, it is another thing to get paid. You would have to go to Small
Claims Court again, over and over, to file more papers and evidence of
nonpayment, the other party has to appear to show why they haven't paid and
where their money is kept, (again WHEN they show up,) then the judge has to
rule the money can be automatically deducted from their bank account or
paycheck, and more papers have to be filed for that, etc., etc. Scam artists
(if this woman happens to be) who pick on innocent people like you, and try
to get YOU to pay them instead, usually know how hard it is to actually get
them to pay for anything, if they lose in court. They simply hide whatever
money they are making and do not deposit it in bank accounts, change jobs
just before funds are to be taken out of paychecks, so the courts would have
to try and track them down at new jobs, etc., for payment. They are simply
off scamming a new person.

So the real point in the end for you, in filing in Small Claims Court, is to
actually win or reasonably settle the case, hopefully you won't have to pay
at all, and she can't come after you again down the line. And then you can
start breathing again and know you haven't allowed yourself to be victimized
by her, just because you'd rather take an easier and more comfortable way out
and just pay her off.

Good luck whatever you choose to do,