Landlord wins 30,000 suit against wealthy tenant.

The story in the press:

The owners of an upscale home in Dallas’ exclusive Preston Hollow neighborhood have won a complete defense victory and significant attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit filed by Dr. Craig Schwimmer, founder of The Snoring Center, and his wife, Shanon, following a two-year dispute over a security deposit.

Dallas attorneys Darrell W. Cook, Catherine A. Keith and Melissa J. Parker of Cook Keith & Davis won the case on behalf of Oklahoma residents Olayinka and Akinola Ogundipe, who own the 5,100 square-foot property on Meaders Lane.

Dr. Schwimmer and his wife asked for more than $48,000 in their lawsuit, but they were awarded nothing and instead were ordered to pay more than $30,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

“Dr. Schwimmer signed a lease requiring him to maintain this lovely home, but instead he trashed much of the property and added insult to injury by filing this lawsuit,” says Mr. Cook. “Fortunately, the judge refused to let Dr. Schwimmer avoid his obligations and entered judgment for the full amount requested by my clients.”

The Schwimmers paid $16,000 in security deposits before moving into the house in 2013. Shortly after the doctor and his wife terminated the lease and moved out in June 2015, the Ogundipes discovered extensive damage to their yard and home. The owners then began collecting estimates for repairing damaged windows and woodwork, and restoring the poorly watered and maintained yard, which was filled with pet waste.

The Ogundipes refunded nearly $5,000 of the deposit and withheld the remaining amount for repairs. Shortly after, they were contacted by the Schwimmers’ attorney, Brian Hurst of Baker & McKenzie in Dallas, one of the country’s largest law firms.

Mr. Hurst sent an email cautioning the Ogundipes that he suspected they “would prefer not to incur the time and expense of defending a lawsuit in Texas. Nor would you want the existence of this lawsuit, which may be found in a title search, to interfere with your efforts to sell the house.”

The Schwimmers then sued for three times the deposit amount, claiming the damage amounted to normal wear and tear. They also accused the Ogundipes of violating the Texas Property Code by not refunding the deposit within 30 days. Mr. Cook countered by noting that the Schwimmers breached the lease by paying their rent late seven times in less than two years, and that their deposit was refunded only one day late, after the repair estimates were completed.

Following a bench trial, Judge King Fifer of Dallas County Court-at-Law #2 ruled in the Ogundipes’ favor and ordered that the Schwimmers take nothing. The judge also required the Schwimmers to pay more than $1,600 for additional repairs and $30,000 to cover the Ogundipes’ attorneys’ fees.

Motion for Turnover – Collecting Judgments in Texas

Some debtors are adroit at ignoring written communication like letters or discovery. Their denial seems impenetrable. So we often have to show debtors more concrete proof that we mean business. If the debtor continually ignores us, this could mean working towards an order for the court to have them placed under arrest.

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Limitations on Post-Judgment Discovery – Collecting Judgments in Texas

What you don’t know can hurt you.

We have plenty of tools at our disposal when trying to collect a judgment. An important one of these is post-judgment discovery, which allows us to request documents detailing the debtor’s financial situation.

What many people fail to realize is that the rules of discovery change once a judgment has been handed down by the court. Before judgment, we’re limited in the amount of information we can request.

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Lawyers representing brokers in Texas Association of Realtors arbitration.

We represent real estate agents and brokers in Texas Association of Realtors arbitration.

The Texas Association of Realtors arbitration process has many pitfalls that realtors are not told about. There are technical rules and references the state law that no one explains. As lawyers, we have been very successful in representing real estate agents and brokers in arbitration matters.

This is a story about a Texas Association of Realtors arbitration case we won for a Texas real estate broker that was simply impossible to believe, but it’s true.

We represent a Texas real estate broker who listed a property for a seller. The buyer initially viewed the property without an agent. But the buyer had a relative who was an agent. The buyer’s agent then proceeded to assist the buyer but agreed to zero commission to keep the price of the property lower.

The Sales Contract between the buyer and seller indicated in two separate places that no commission would be due to the buyer’s agent and this signed contract was emailed back and forth between our client and the buyers agent before execution and closing with no objections from the buyer’s agent.

The buyer’s agent further showed up at closing and made no objections to the fact that she was not receiving a commission at closing.

Nevertheless, the buyer’s agent filed an arbitration claim against our client (the listing broker) seeking 3% commission stating that the MLS listing offering 3% commission was the only relevant agreement between brokers and that the Sales Contract was irrelevant.

We took the matter to arbitration and after a full hearing involving multiple witnesses the Texas Association of Realtors Panel found unanimously in favor of the listing agent and no commission was awarded.

This was another example when the power at your disposal when you have a savvy and knowledgeable representative.

Arresting the Debtor - Collecting Judgments in Texas

Turn the heat up. Then turn it up some more.

You’ve shown the debtor several times now that you mean business, but they’re still not getting the message. Because they’ve ignored repeated requests for information, the court has held them in contempt. For many in this situation, this is the end of the road. When faced with the threat of going to jail, debtors are often eager to resolve matters and you’re able to collect the judgment.

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