I got an interesting comment from a person named Sam who visited from the K20 network in Everett about small claims court. He stated:
Believe me when I say this story is not made up.
Personally I think you are a troll, but you raise a good point that is worth discussing. Any good discussion often leads to interesting ideas and processes down the road. So even though I think Sam is a troll, this one is worthy and will help me work out the process I am thinking of doing. This is why I think I can win in small claims court over the phrase in the HOA Rules and Regulations Document, Quiet enjoyment of my home.
Let’s take this from the top, which is the rules and regulations for Small Claims Court off the King County Web site. Please feel free to click on over there and see what they state you can and cannot do.
Who Can Sue And Be Sued?
Anyone can be sued for any reason; there are two things I would be suing over, one the noise from her car radio at 1 or 2 AM which violates King County noise ordinances, the damage to the common property such as damage to the walls, the art work, and trash around the building (the HOA should do this but they won’t, they prefer to fine her every month for this). I am debating to sue over the smell of cigarette smoke up and down the entire floor of the condo building which I happen to share with the person I am planning on suing. I would be using the argument over “quiet enjoyment of my property” and using the process of trash, destruction of common area property, smells, and noise ordinances. I might only be able to get the noise ordinance to be the effective tool for this lawsuit.
At the very least I can get a no-contact order for the noise issues based on what I am reading on the King County web site for no-contact orders. Either would suit me just fine, we will be doing the no-contact order regardless of what happens in small claims court. This is specific to Washington State and other local jurisdictions will differ. But I think I have two plausible arguments here, assuming that I am going to have a judge similar to Judge Judy on this one, and that is how I am framing this in my mind.
How Much Does It Cost?
Cost is not really an issue, I can do all this for around 200 dollars between court costs, process serving, and other fees between getting this case registered and processed.
How Do I Get Started?
I am planning on going down to the court house; I will need according to them the following: It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to accurately identify the defendant, provide a proper address and, if possible, provide a phone number. All of this is public record, as she has an extensive series of records in King County. Since I live in the same condo complex, the address is not a problem.
Serving the Notice
I will have the local police department serve the notice.
How Long Do I Have To File My Case?
I have a year from the time of the first incident, since this is ongoing and I have a detailed log going back to August, and this is an ongoing issue, I think that if I file this month I will meet this criteria.
What If We Settle?
That would be awesome, as it is still a determination, although I don’t think we will settle, this is always an option, and one I would not mind pursuing. I really don’t care what the person does as long as it is not in the parking lot right next to my window at 1 or 2 AM.
Preparing For The Trial
The King County web site states:
You can help yourself by being well prepared. To prepare for the trial, collect all papers, photographs, receipts, estimates, canceled checks, or other documents that concern the case. It may be helpful to write down ahead of time the facts of the case in the order that they occurred. This will help you to organize your thoughts and to make a clear presentation of your story to the judge. It is also a good idea to sit through a small claims court session before the date of your hearing. This will give you first-hand information about the way small claim cases are heard.
I have a detailed log of everything that has happened since August that shows a pattern of behavior I am seeking to not have happen. I have records from the HOA about fines for the same behavior; I have pictures of the aftermath of said behavior, and other information to aide my case of “quiet enjoyment of my property”. Really this all hinges on what is “quiet enjoyment of my property” and I will be relying on the R&R’s from the Condo, and ordinances from King County for noise. There is actually a specific ordinance on car radios which I was surprised to find. If the “quiet enjoyment of my property” argument fails then small claims fails. This does not mean that I can’t get the no-contact order, that is a separate argument that falls more under the noise ordinances and some verbal issues that have happened in the past.
What Happens At The Trial?
I am planning on Judge Judy, I need all my data to be fair and honest and factual. So far I have that.
What If My Opponent Does Not Appear For Trial?
Then I win by default and will give the person an opportunity to pay, if not I can send this off to bill collection.
How Do I Collect My Money?
The King County site states: A money judgment in your favor does not necessarily mean that the money will be paid. The Small Claims Court does not collect the judgment for you. If no appeal is taken and the judgment is not paid within 30 days, or the time set by the court in the payment plan, you may request (in writing) and upon payment of a $20 fee, that a transcript of the judgment be entered into the civil docket of the court. At that time you may proceed with a method of collection such as garnishment of wages, bank accounts, and other monies of the defendant or an execution may be issued on cars, boats, or other personal property of the judgment debtor. Remember, the clerks cannot give you legal advice. You may need the assistance of an attorney or collection agency at this point. In the alternative, you may take your transcript of the judgment and file it in superior court for a fee of $20. Other fees may be required by the superior court clerk or county auditor. When this is done, it places a lien against all real estate in the name of the judgment debtor that is located in the county. When the judgment has been paid in full you must send written notice to the district court that the judgment has been satisfied.
Can You Appeal A Case If You Lose?
If I lose, I am not worried about it, at least I made an attempt. Personally if I lose I’ll sell the property, take out a signature loan for the remainder of the balance owed, and quit the property. While I would like the issues to stop, the ultimate and last thing I can do is simply leave, and that is on the table as an option. Since it does not look like I will be able to rent it based on what other people who live on the same side as I do because of the smell, trash, and noise, I’ll probably just short sale it and call it good. It is more important for me to be happy and healthy in my own home than it is to keep living in a place that is unhealthy for me to live in.
Thanks Sam, and even though I think you are a troll, you seem like a nice troll, and well worth having the discussion with.
Counties, Judge Judy, Law, Lawsuit, Small Claims Court, United States, Washington