Vindicated in Santa Barbara

Kirsten and I (and our dogs, Chili and Harlow) rented a home last fall in Santa Barbara. The home was well worn and well lived in (the owners did not maintain the home to my standards ;-)). We also paid a propane charge for the pool and hot tub and an exit cleaning fee. We paid too much but it was COVID. Of course, we took very good care of the home for the seven weeks we were there. When we departed, we left the home in immaculate condition. To our surprise, the owners refused to return our security deposit. After some back and forth, she returned all but $1300. We still found this unfair, unwarranted and totally unsubstantiated. She was simply being piggy. She then went radio silent. After two demand letters, Kirsten and I decided to bring an action against her in the Small Claims Court in Santa Barbara County. The problem was service of process. She and her family had retreated to Hawaii for COVID, and after several requests, she just refused to provide us with her address. Her property manager also refused to give us the Hawaii address. We tried to find her, but to no avail. I then filed a 25-page motion (including exhibits) asking the judge for permission to serve the defendants by publication in the local newspaper. The deputy clerk was very pessimistic telling me that the judge rarely grants such motions. Within one hour of receipt by the court of my motion, the deputy clerk called me to tell me that the judge signed my motion. We were happy. We then published a notice of our legal action against the defendants in the Santa Barbara News-Press for four consecutive weeks. She did show up at the first court date, for which I thoroughly prepared, and which was several months ago (she finally accepted service by certified mail, which was forwarded to her in Hawaii by the US Postal service). The trials are held on Zoom. But since she failed to send us her court exhibits pursuant to the clearly communicated court rules, the judge granted her a continuance until this past Tuesday. On Monday, I again prepared for several hours. On Tuesday, the defendants failed to show! We were granted a default judgement against the defendants. Yes, a bit anti-climactic. We made a motion for our expenses ($523.17, which we should get), statutory prejudgment interest ($78.71, which we should get) and for double the amount due under the California’s bad faith provision (an additional $2600, which I doubt we will get). We intent to take our judgement, lien her homes (she has two), accrue interest at the statutory rate of 10 per cent per year, and wait for her to sell one of her Santa Barbara homes (we will get paid at closing). I thought the California Small Claims Court worked rather well. A time consuming pain in the butt, but after eight months, we feel vindicated. I did fail to mention that shortly after filing our case, we received a letter from Judge Judy inviting us to transfer the case to her TV court room in Los Angeles. They promised a free, all expense paid trip to Los Angeles. We declined Judge Judy’s offer. 😉

77Eric Kaminetzky, Gayle Slamowitz and 75 others39 CommentsLikeCommentShare

About Greg Slamowitz

Greg Slamowitz (www.gregslamowitz.com) is an entrepreneur, investor, author and speaker. He was a co-founder and former Co-CEO of Ambrose Employer Group, LLC, a professional employer organization (PEO), which was ranked among Crain’s New York’s list of the 50 fastest growing companies and was also recognized by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management as one of the “Best Companies to Work For in New York.” Greg co-founded Ambrose in 1997 with $95,000, never accepted outside funding, and sold Ambrose to Trinet (TNET) in July 2013 in a $200 million cash transaction. Greg has also invested in, and is on the board of, a number of early stage companies. Greg enjoys learning and teaching and has spent considerable time over the last several years meeting with entrepreneurs and business leaders and regularly presents his seminar, “Flip the Pyramid”, around the United States. Read about Greg’s presentation to the Morris (NJ) Tech Meetup. http://bit.ly/1rxbxB8 Greg’s book titled “Flip the Pyramid: How Any Organization Can Create a Workforce That Is Engaged, Empowered, Aligned and On Fire!” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes/iBooks. http://amzn.to/ZrNw8a Greg has also spent considerable time in Washington DC with members and staffers of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives educated them about the challenges to and solutions for America’s businesses. He was a board member and president of the his industry’s trade association and founded and led its political action committee (PAC). Greg was instrumental in the passage of the Small Business Efficiency Act. http://bit.ly/1vprSd1 Greg is passionate about helping America’s businesses focus on growth, profit, hiring and creating an awesome and healthy experience for each and every working American. Greg was the recipient of the 2001 Ernst & Young New York Entrepreneur of the Year® award in the employment services category. Greg also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for Emory University’s School of Law. Prior to co-founding Ambrose in 1997, Greg practiced tax law with Brown & Wood (now Sidley Austin Brown & Wood) in New York City. He holds two law degrees – a Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University School of Law, and a Juris Doctorate, with distinction, from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta. He received his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from New York University. Please visit Greg’s website www.gregslamowitz.com, his LinkedIn Profile and Twitter @gregslamowitz His passions include developing highly functional organizations, engaged cultures, growth companies, health care and wellness, skiing and sailing (www.teammanitou.com) View all posts by Greg Slamowitz

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