01.09.18 | Hope | by Ann H. Kloeckner
We are grateful for the support from Fredericksburg United Methodist Church to Legal Aid Works.
Sometimes, our cases involve life or death. Sometimes, our cases involve a profound legal interest hanging in the balance (like the right to retain custody of your child, or a chance to avoid homelessness). We sometimes stand in the way of our clients’ spiraling into starvation and extreme destitution.
And then, sometimes, we need to be sure a tenant is not wrongfully accused of clogging the apartment’s toilet. I’m not sure if Perry Mason ever handled The Case of The Clogged Toilet, but our newest staff attorney, Alex Reidell, Esq., just handled his first ever court hearing last week, and he was able to convince a General District Court judge that his clients were not responsible for the clogged toilet and the resulting $9,000 in damages which the landlord had sued them to collect. As Alex saw it, it was a simple case of lack of proof of causation. There was nothing whatsoever that indicated his clients had caused the massive fail of the plumbing system in their rental unit.
If Alex had not convinced the judge that his clients were not responsible for the damage, that enormous amount of money would exist as a judgment against them, affecting their credit score and making it impossible for them to find a new landlord to accept them as tenants (landlords routinely run credit checks to see if a prospective tenant’s credit history would likely make them a good risk in the future). Their modest wages and small savings account would also be at risk to be garnished to satisfy the debt.
None of us went to law school envisioning a career exposing landlords’ culpability in plumbing matters, but Alex got a great opportunity to see his clients cry tears of joy at court when the verdict went their way. His mentor, LAW Staff Attorney Daniel Turczan, Esq., was there to watch, too, and there were plenty of teachable moments during the hearing for Alex to learn about the art of litigation, which he will master over the next few years. For now, though, we were happy to be able to enjoy this great moment of victory for Alex and his clients.
Respectfully submitted by Ann H. Kloeckner, Esq.
Legal Aid Works, Executive Director
Did you know that we support Legal Aid Works, who have been proudly providing free, high-quality civil legal services for low-income citizens in our area? If you want more information, ask anyone on the SERVE Committee.