The importance of having legal representation in court cannot be overstated. Today, associate attorney Melissa Kujda was awarded a default judgment against a landlord who tried to sue one of our clients. Every aspect of the landlord’s complaint was frivolous – the landlord was seeking rent that our client already paid, and the total amount of rent claimed was over 10 times that stipulated in the lease. The list goes on.
In fact, after rendering a default judgment, the judge awarded attorney’s fees after finding that the lawsuit was brought in bad faith and without substantial justification, pursuant to Maryland Rule 1-341.
It turns out that, during the past few years, this particular landlord has filed 10 separate lawsuits in the District Court of Baltimore City alone. Five of those lawsuits were uncontested – the defendants, presumably other tenants, were not represented by counsel and failed to come to court to fight the landlord’s claims. As a result, the landlord was awarded default judgments in each of those cases, amounting to thousands of dollars over the years.
Unfortunately, this is a tactic commonly employed by landlords in Baltimore City. Our firm has every reason to believe that, in our case, the landlord did not expect our client to fight the claims. The landlord filed the lawsuit expecting to obtain another easy default judgment from another unrepresented tenant.
The prospect that, without legal representation, our client could have been found liable for fraudulent damages is extremely unsettling, and it underscores the importance of obtaining legal representation to help fight your case.