Sunday, August 13, 2017

Let the Litigation Begin

Living room
The good part of the day was that we finished the last work and cleaning in the apartment, and I got all the information uploaded to HomeAway so we can start renting it out to vacationers and business travelers. My new hat: rental property manager. Here are some ready-to-rent photos.

The drudge part of the day was preparing all of my documentation on our contractor's lack of completion on all the projects here (projects for which he has already been paid). I need all the documentation and photos (not the nice photos of the apartment shown here but other, bad photos of shame and neglect) as support for the succinct statement I am writing up to tell the lawyer what I paid, what the contractor did (and did not do), what he said he'd do, and what I want from him now. I also have to find the right lawyer. I thought looking on AVVO would be an good idea, but Dave looked at me in horror when I said that's where I was looking, and immediately sent me a link to Ken White's blog post on Popehat "How To Cold-Call A Lawyer: A Potential Client's Guide". My favorite highlights are below, but it's well-worth reading the whole post.

Living room, breakfast nook, kitchen
"However, on occasion, you'll need a lawyer with an obscure specialty, or in a remote area where you don't know anyone, or you won't have time to seek a recommendation, or you'll be a reclusive misfit with no friends like me, and you'll not be able to six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon your way into a connection with the sort of lawyer you need. In these circumstances, you might find one online, through a Google search or a lawyer search site or in the Yellow Pages. You might even call the local Bar Association — though in my experience you might as well ask the cat."

"Prepare for the call: Oh, sweet Jesus, please prepare for the call."

"Especially if you are calling a lawyer to talk about suing someone rather than facing criminal charges or a lawsuit against you, think about how to explain what you want. If you can't summarize what the problem is and what you want in four sentences, keep thinking until you can. This is especially a problem if you are one of those people, bless their hearts, who cannot explain a straightforward situation in less time it would take James Joyce fully to explore the tension between autonomy and religion."

Master bedroom
"So: prepare for the call the way you would for a wedding toast at a wedding where the mother of the bride is sitting next to you and is notoriously violent and has personally informed you that if you speak for more than forty-five seconds she will be jabbing you in the crotch with an oyster fork."

"A lawyer is not there to tell you what you want to hear. If you insist on a lawyer who will only tell you what you want to hear, you will eventually wind up with one who is (1) meek, and therefore a shitty lawyer, (2) dishonest, and therefore a shitty lawyer, or (3) so desperate for work that they will put up with your bullshit, and therefore a shitty lawyer."

Second bedroom
"And lawyers are human, at least in the bundle-of-flaws sense. So if you are curt and abrupt, if you are openly incredulous at what the lawyer says, if you treat the lawyer openly like someone who is out to cheat you (as opposed to doing so subtly, which is perfectly sensible), if you can't let the lawyer speak a complete sentence without interrupting, if you negotiate in a contemptuous manner as if you are buying a fake Rolex off a guy in an alley, then the lawyer is not going to be enthused about you, and his vestigial humanity is going to lead him to turn you down or charge you more or resent you and work less hard for you. He can't spit in your food the way waiters will if you act like bad consumers, but he can do stuff that's far, far worse. Pretend that the lawyer is a human being with feelings, and things will go much smoother."

It felt a bit like cheating to quote so much of his post instead of writing my own, but it was so damn good I just couldn't resist. And if you liked that one, you'll also like his "So You've Been Threatened With A Defamation Suit". This one came to mind in part because I do blog about my experiences, I am considering leaving really shitty (completely honest) reviews for the contractor as part of my process, and I just read the cautionary tale of the Dallas couple who social-mediaed their wedding photographer right out of business and she just won a million dollar defamation suit against them. And the infamy begins.


Bill said...

Good luck.

ellen abbott said...

my friends went through 3 contractors and it took over two years to get the remodeling done on their condo and there was still one or two niggling details that I don't think ever got taken care of. so, go git him but don't put up the bad review until after you go to court. Just filing a claim may be enough to get him to pony up.

Brenda Griffith said...

I also had a thought that if I put up bad reviews, it's going to make it that much harder for him to be able to pay me back. And since he makes his money on roofing jobs--not the remodeling/landscaping work he attempted for me--I am not doing anyone looking to get a roof replaced a disservice by keeping quiet.