A real case study: A visitor comes late one night to visit his girlfriend at a well-respected, mission-based affordable housing complex operated by a compassionate landlord who purposely keeps rents low. The visitor is inebriated, and with his frustrations of loud children playing outside, he slaps a child who goes home crying to their parents. The father gets a gun and shoots the visitor in the leg. The father and his family take off, the visitor gets out of the hospital and calls the 1-800 lawyer (fake name but the largest of such kind in the country located in Atlanta, GA.) The law firm goes after the landlord for “not providing safety for the visitor.” It submits a 9-page demand letter asking for everything the landlord has from relevant points of the case to personal financial statements of the ownership (what has that to do with the case?). This would take weeks of work just to gather the data demanded (purposely?). The landlord submits to the insurance who decides to settle the case, even with overwhelming evidence in favor of the compassionate landlord (camera footage about what happened). They determine it would be too costly to litigate. The result is that the landlord now has their insurance canceled, and now the personal wealth of the partnership is at risk. The suit was for injury and damages…however, after 1-800 investigated and found there wasn’t much money to be had, they changed their law suit to a “slip and fall” which they say occurred after the shooting. A “slip and fall” pays more money than a shooting!!
Research on the 1-800 law firm shows that they RARELY go to court…in fact, they have an agreement that they need to go to court, then they will refer the case out to another a law firm/litigator who will do it and the 1-800 law firms gets a referral fee. These are the same people putting billboards up encouraging people to sue and get big bucks. Of course, the litigant doesn’t have to pay the lawyer unless they win. For many, this is their retirement plan.
The result in the best-case scenario is that the insurance premium goes up because of this, and the needed protocols to defend this in the future incur new costs that are passed through with rent increases. Why be an affordable housing landlord?
How do you change state laws to change these bad practices? There was an attempt…but all the legislators are lawyers, and the big lobbyists are the Trial Lawyers….the biggest campaign contributors are from…the 1-800 law firms.
All apologies to my friends who are litigators…we need them to help those who have truly been wronged. As one of my friends said, “why do you care? We aren’t coming after you, we’re going after the insurance companies!”
To have affordable housing with landlords that what to play in the space, there needs to be encouragement to get in the space. Politicians are baffled as to why it is so difficult with government/free subsidies, why landlords don’t want to be in the space. In future articles, we will discuss, government hurdles keeping people from doing business where society needs the most help…housing the barista, the nurses, and the police officers who can’t afford to live in town to provide the very services that society needs desperately.