San Diego Tenant From Hell Gets What He Deserves – Nothing
August 2014, Michael Cody successfully defended a landlord against a lawsuit brought by the tenants regarding the lease of a luxury home rental in San Diego. The tenants – a plaintiff’s securities lawyer and his wife – sought several hundred thousand dollars from the landlord for breach of contract; breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment and fraud. The tenants also sought punitive damages against the landlord. The attorney-tenant represented himself and his law firm represented his wife.
The tenants alleged that the landlord was required to make extensive repairs and perform certain maintenance items to the rental home before the tenants moved in. The tenants alleged that the landlord didn’t make the repairs or perform the maintenance, had no intention of doing so, lied to the tenants about it and then harassed the tenants when they complained about needed repairs. The tenants even (unsuccessfully) filed for a restraining order against the landlord to prevent him from coming to the property and/or making repairs himself, then filed an appeal of the decision to deny the restraining order.
Despite the landlord making significant concessions in the $10,000 monthly rent, agreeing to stay away from the home except for emergencies and agreeing to send only licensed contractors to make repairs to the home when needed, the tenants refused to settle without a significant cash payment from the landlord as a “symbol of his wrongdoing.” The landlord even agreed to let the tenants out of the 2-year lease and return some rent. The tenants refused to be reasonable.
After a 2-week jury trial and a successful defense motion for non-suit to dismiss the fraud and punitive damages claims, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the landlord on all counts in just 45 minutes. In addition, the landlord was entitled to recover over $140,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. The landlord discounted the fees and costs by 25% in exchange for the tenants immediately moving out and dismissing their appeal of the restraining order denial.