Laura Dvorak 5:47 p.m., Dec. 6
Central Division Small Claims: Buyer's Remorse Boob Job; The IRS; Curtain Rods
Central Division Small Claims Court:
First up with the 9:30 group in courtroom A becomes settled via a mediation agreement. The City of San Diego will hold the defendant liable for $1492.87. And with the same plaintiff, the City, for “services”; the defendant loses by default as a no-show. The $937.84 first owed, has grown to $1166.94 with collection costs and interest.
Next up was a man suing his lawyer. The man retained the lawyer for a wrongful termination suit. The lawyer dropped the man as a client once he saw the man’s personnel file and considered their settlement adequate and fair. He considered the client’s case against the employer without further merit. A services billing of $1125 was disputed by the plaintiff. He was only willing to pay $675. Being a lawyer, the defendant seemed well prepared and organized. He said the man had “buyer’s remorse.” Another lawyer was possibly involved, but that wasn’t clear. The judge explained he would take his decision under submission, as he did for all of today’s cases – except the defaults.
A young man came up next with a case against a credit card company. The card people were no show. They defaulted on an “agreement from January to modify his credit report”. He gets $200 and the company must still modify his credit report. Left happy.
The defendant in the next case tried to get the hearing continued. That was denied. The judge said, “We’re all here. Let’s do this.” The plaintiff is accompanied by his lawyer. The lawyer, at one time, had worked for the defendant and plaintiff together in a claim against Home Depot. Now the plaintiff alleges his lifelong friend and hired handy man mis-installed a light, which fell, injuring him with constant headaches. Home Depot told them, “You didn’t read the box for the hardware. It said, “Do not use for overhead items.”” Finger pointing went back and forth. The defendant was annoyed his one-time confederates were now against him.
A young married couple was fighting for $306, wrongfully charged against them for cleaning of and damage to a rented apartment. The husband claimed, “When we left, it was in better shape than we moved in.” There was also some dispute about the property owner, a young woman, collecting double-rent on their unit and limiting their laundry access. Receipts submitted by the property owner were scrutinized about the price of curtain rods and certain paint rollers.
This next case started with two defendants, but only one of the two CPA’s was there. The absent defendant provided a letter to say he had not worked directly for the plaintiff. A $2500 flat fee, paid to represent the plaintiff in an IRS “Offer and Compromise” case, was disputed. The defendant had come well “recommended”. The plaintiff was a young man in a suit and tie. He presented a professional case and also talked about getting hurt in an accident, going to prison and his mother dieing during the course of his IRS battle. The CPA’s attempts with the IRS failed three times and he denied any direct responsibility for the outcome.
And, an unsatisfied boob job customer. The maybe 50-year-old woman said “I didn’t get what was asked for.” Her impetus for breast augmentation was to correct an asymmetry. Her complaint was that she got D-cups not the C-cups and a lift she wanted. Her sister testified, as her witness, there was an asymmetry. The suited-up, gray haired doc, mid 40’s maybe, who performed the surgery, was accompanied by a witness. She introduced herself as an employee and proud patient (looked like a new Barbie). Brassier samples brought by the plaintiff as evidence, were briefly flashed, but not outright displayed for the courtroom. Neither were the packages of clinical and non-clinical photos submitted into evidence. The only thing the audience got to see was a profile sweater photo. The doctor laid right in with a strong case about the insignificance of cup size when selecting breast augmentation. He repeated more than once, “Cup size is subjective.” He claimed the standard of care was attained. There were no problems such as healing or infection. He could understand those issues as a matter of dissatisfaction. He maintained no specific outcome about cup size is ever guaranteed. The doctor determined, “she was a 300cc, so I needed a 295 on the left and 325 on the right side”. He claimed having done 800 augmentations and 14 years of experience. He discussed bra cups, breast volume, and lifts. She said, “I was promised precision and proportion”. He said the medical records were filled with her post-surgery comments including: “happy”, “I was so pleased, I could kiss you” and “I love my breasts”. The judge asked her smiling husband what he thought about his wife’s breasts. He mostly just smiled. The defendant’s witness, a surgery consultant and office manager talked about plastic surgery as, “Putting the pieces of a puzzle together.” She also told about some post-surgery interactions with the patient. By their tone in referencing each other, they sounded like catfights.
Wrapping up the calendar was a rental lease dispute. The ex-couple co-defendants, asked about getting a six-month lease on a rental. They were denied anything except a one-year and left, then came back and took the one-year term. At six-months, the male tenant now living alone, tried to break the lease – a breach of contract. Toying with the property owner he started to say he couldn’t pay the rent and wanted to use the security deposit for rent, trying to get quit (move out) notices issued. However, during the six-months of renting, there were enough other problems. The 20-something female renter said she left because of “fear for her safety”; actually domestic violence. The young man dismissed their problems as, “just some drinking and shouting”. He claimed the 70-something property owner and her realty agent were stalking him and sending him anonymous e-mails. He also said he felt in danger. Someone was turning-on his hoses and running up his water bill. The women admitted sending the police to his door, but not as harassment. They also had his PODS moved aside from blocking the owner’s garage door. The tenant was also allegedly to sublet part of the property and he wrote them e-mail messages using foul language, telling them “I know the law and will cost you money”. He wanted the emails dismissed as “irrelevant”. Said his retaliation was necessary after all. The property owner submitted pictures of intentional his damage. Her witness said, “In the 25 years I’ve worked with the plaintiff, her properties were always pristine. The tenant was malicious. He made threats to cause damage. He took a one-year lease. Left at six-months.” No surprise, the defendant filed a cross-complaint against the plaintiff alleging “Falsifying the deposit”. The female defendant wanted it clearly known that she had given notice of leaving “due to fear”, started crying and specified a legal statute allowing her just cause in breaking the lease. She said she hadn’t seen the guy since she left in June. The property owner had her final word, “This mister is a pro at working the system”.
The doctor was still around at the end of the two-hour session. He wanted to see the judge and got rebuffed by the five-star woman bailiff, “Not if the other party’s not here.” He was behind me out the door and yelled ahead, “Are you a court watcher? What happened with that girl? She was crying.”