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grrr stupid bastages. advice?


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Alright, so two days ago some jerks broke into 7 cars on the bottom floor of my appartment's garage. Unfortunately, one of the cars they broke into was mine.

As a side note, the guy/s (guessing it was a guy) who did this was an idiot. He cut himself with the slim gim that he was using on one of the cars and left it on the ground behind the car:doh: . Then he proceeded on to a jeep where he cut the top to get into it leaving very clear bloody prints that the police took. Of course, the police could have lifted prints from a number of cars that he bled into. Anyway, after many calls to the police, they finally came out and grabed the prints and the slimgym and part of the torn top of the jeep with the prints to take back and look for matches to the prints (another long story in getting them to come out).

So here's my question: It's been proposed that we take the garage that we pay to park in (that is suposed to be secure) to small claims court. I have a slight problem with this. I believe a legal case could be made. WE pay them. The car is in their control (or atleast they tow cars from there all the time so they can move our cars). We pay them to provide a locked secure garage. They have been having problems with the doors staying open (so anyone can come in, and they haven't fixed them for months. The attendant is NEVER there.

So, I have been approached by 2 of the other's with cars broken into. We've found out that the break-ins have been happening for months (from the police and another resident), but the garage never let anyone post warning or info. Their "risk management lawyer" was a complete jerk on the phone, and while I wasn't planning on sueing, that guy pissed me off to the point where I am considering it.

My problem is that the garage company didn't break into my car. It's not like I think they are morally responcible, and I hate furthering our letigous "I'm going to sue" mentality. It's just that their negligence made it easy for the crook, and they aren't taking steps to fix it. Is it reasonable to tell the other two that I will go along and split the small claims court fee, but only with the understanding that I am willing to settle at any point for an agreement by the garage company to step up security (doors that close promptly, cameras on the exits, ect.)? Believe me, I don't expect to get anything back personally. I've been told that's a lost cause. My only hope is that there would be enough to make the garage company hire a lawyer and come to court. If so, they may be willing to settle rather than go through the expense of hiring a lawyer. Stupid?

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Personally I think you should sue them. They only way they are going to improve is if people hold them responsible. They didn't provide the service you paid for. If no one goes after them, then you can expect them to provide the same level of service. It doesn't sound like you are happy with that.

To me it sounds like you have a legitimate beef.

If you don't go the suit route, maybe a consumer complaint to the proper people/organizations. But I don't think that will have the same effect.

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gbear, suing them is not stupid at all. I work as a lawyer, but I'm not litigious (I do civil defense). But I would be willing to bring a small claims action in that instance.

Regarding it not being the garage company that broke in, you're right in the sense that the general rule is that premises owners/managers are not liable for the criminal acts of others. However, when the owner/manager is aware of such problems, and doesn't take reasonable steps to either warn of the danger or prevent it, then they may be liable. There are cases in every state in which women are raped or people are robbed in parking garages and they successfully sue because of the owner's knowledge of prior similar acts on or near the premises and the resulting failure to at least warn of the danger or to hire security or to lock the premises.

In this case, they appear to have failed to secure the doors to the outside despite numerous complaints and prior break-ins. That sounds like a slam dunk to me, especially given the way that courts in my experience tend to favor the tenants over the landlord in disputes.

Also, from the standpoint of settling, keep in mind that you could settle separately from the other plaintiffs if you wanted to. It's better to coordinate your goals with them, but if you want jointly file with them to save filing fees and then pursue your own goals, you can certainly do that. Just make sure that your name is included on the complaint.

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Thanks Redman,

Now I just have to do some research over the weekend about how and where to file for small claims court. I'm still awaiting my garage's final word on whether they do anything. They said the ywould tell me within ten days. However, I take it as a sign that no signs were posted telling other residents what happened (it's been a week now). IN fact, I think I might just post some signs myself.

Any idea where I can find some info on the small claims court process in MD? IS the small claims court route a better option than a consumer complaint?

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