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In Limbo in Small Claims Court

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by BartSimpson, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. BartSimpson

    BartSimpson Law Topic Starter Guest

    Jurisdiction:
    Illinois
    Co-tenants filed a small claims complaint to get $600 security deposit back after landlords keep entire deposit and provided no itemized statement. (Landlord is a corporation and represented by atty) We've had the 1st appearance, their atty filed request for leave to conduct limited discovery, there was a hearing on that request and the judge allowed limited discovery. Judge stated discovery was to take place between the parties, would be both ways, and signed an order saying discovery should take place in 30 days. Judge then turned to the atty and said once discovery was done, the atty was to set the trial date. We hand-delivered all our documents to the atty on day 28. That was the end of November 2016. Atty has provided us with nothing and no trial date has been set. Are we in limbo? Are we going to have to wait until the atty gets around to doing something? What can we do to move this forward? Nothing in the pro se Small Claims Manuals describe our situation at all. HELP!
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Yes, now you wait, unless what you thought to be 30 days exceeded it somehow.
    You might want to check the court's website to see the status on your case.
    In fact, its always wise to check the website (if the court has one) to identify your case's status and/or updates.

    If the court doesn't have a website, you can always call the court clerk and inquire.
     
  3. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    If you haven't heard back from the atty i would reach out to the court. the atty should have provided you with the information you requested within 30 days. don't let them control the process if the time table has gone by.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Have you asked for anything? The proper procedure is to serve the opposing party (through his attorney) a Request for the Production of Documents and include a list of the documents you want.

    That's how it works. The attorney knows that and knows he is not obligated to give you anything unless you ask for it.

    Once you have completed the discovery process you don't have to wait for the attorney to ask for a trial date. You can file a Motion to Set.

    Your predicament is why going up against an attorney without one of your own is like taking a rubber knife to a gunfight. You're the one who ends up on the ground bleeding.
     
    army judge likes this.
  5. BartSimpson

    BartSimpson New Member

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    We have not asked for anything from them. Are we required to ask them for anything? They asked for discovery from us. We provided it. Now we want to get it in front of the Court.

    Actually I don't think we need anything from them. We have a copy of the month-to-month lease signed by both tenants, rent receipts, an audio of a meeting in the office before the tenants moved out where the owner's wife announced the security deposit was forfeited because the tenants were a pain, a copy of the hand-delivered letter to end the month-to-month lease, a video of the cleaned unit, witnesses at the walk-thru, the demand letter sent certified mail, and a copy of the long rambling response to the demand letter indicating all the reasons the owner's wife thought they deserved to keep the security deposit.

    I understand about going up against an atty without one of our own, but hiring an atty would cost more than the $600 security deposit lost, which is why tenants just give up and let a landlord keep it. This isn't the first time this landlord has done this. They simply continue to get away with it because they know most tenants won't pursue in small claims court.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Okay, here comes the dirty, little secret.

    You DO know that small claims courts don't give you the money you're seeking by making the other party fork it over in court, right?

    If you prevail you'll receive a judgment on a pretty piece of legal paper, sometimes embossed with a fake gold seal, nonetheless it'll have some sort of raised seal.

    You then must register (or perfect that judgment) before the real leg work begins.

    You have to attempt to discover assets you can have a sheriif's deputy seize, and possibly sell.

    For a lousy $600, that's not going to happen.

    You have to find money lyinga round in the RIGHT bank, and have the deputy attach $600 of those funds.

    Do you understand how incredibly difficult that can be?

    I'm a lawyer.

    It's so hard to do that, even though I can and know how, that i routinely turn down those cases that could offer me $25,000, $50,000, even $100,00 or more if were to accept them.

    Yet, you persist with a some Don Quixote obsession about teaching a recalcitrant, obstinate person a lesson.

    Yeah, good luck with that, mate.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    No, you are not required to ask them for anything, unless you want something, then you have to ask.

    If you don't need any documents from them then you need not ask for any.

    Then file a written motion requesting that a trial date be set.

    I have not found any samples online so you'll have to wing it.
     
  8. BartSimpson

    BartSimpson New Member

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    Thank you. I think we can at least find samples of motions and file something that works.

    Appreciate your response.
     
  9. BartSimpson

    BartSimpson New Member

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    Thank you for your response.

    Yes, we realize that getting a judgment doesn't mean the court gets us the money. The burden will be on us to collect.

    Actually, this isn't an bsession to teach someone a lesson. This is about attempting to get justice when a landlord does not follow the law. Laws regarding the return of a security deposit are put in place to protect tenants who pay rent on time and leave a property in good condition. Period.
    We are simply attempting to use the justice system to get back a security deposit that was improperly kept and to persuade the landlord to follow the law.

    $600 may not sound like a lot to you, but to some, it is a lot.



    .
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    It could be $6.00 or $600.00, the point is prevailing in a small claims judgment won't get you paid.


    Many of these deadbeats are content with the belief that their pursuers have been once more, stymied.
    Most people who end up owing small claims judgments never pay a dime.
    How much is most?
    Estimates hover north of 95%.
    I'm a pragmatic, practical person.
    When I graduated from law school and was admitted to my first state bar, I had the idealistic notion of righting every wrong.
    Age, experience, and time are three of the best teachers.
    I soon arrived at an epiphany, I cared, but others didn't.

    I hope you receive all that you seek, however, don't be surprised if after you receive it; its farther away than it was before you initially began pursuing it.

    Good luck amigo.
     

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