Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/Property damage
Lois Wallace wrote at 2013-09-22 02:08:48
I am in a similar situation, only in reverse. My neighbor hired ex-cons to topple two trees that fell on my property causing damage to the yard. He admitted doing it, said he would pay for the damages, then decided he didn't like the amount of the 3 estimates to repair. My insurance paid accepted the middle one, paid me and left me with a $750 deductible. I filed in small claims. This became my Waterloo. I had photos clearly showing the damages which were taken by the Deputy Sheriff, his testimony and estimate of $1,000 damages, and the 3 estimates. The magistrate agreed with my opponent and ruled that the estimates were not sufficient evidence because the estimators did not appear in court and the magistrate "felt" that they were in excess in spite of the insurance accepting them.
I appealed to the appeals court. They ruled that it was an abuse of discretion, a complete disregard of the law and reversed and remanded it back to the same magistrate who bull-headedly said the appeals court was wrong, and that he was sticking with his original decision. He presented no finding of fact or conclusions of law.
Sadly, small claims court don't have to follow the same rules of evidence so they can pretty much make it up as they want. This is especially scary when the defendant is said to be related to the magistrate. Long story short, don't go to small claims. You are wasting you time.