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  1. #1
    PohTayToez is offline Junior Member
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    Expecting to get sued over property damage, should I let it happen?

    (Illinois)
    So here's the situation:

    The other night I was at get together at the apartment of someone I thought to be a very good friend of mine, we'll call her "N". Long story short, at some point N was using her laptop to order some food to be delivered, and when she was done she placed her laptop on the chair I was standing directly in front of, and when I went to sit down I busted the screen.

    I didn't think this was a huge deal. I own a small computer and electronics repair shop and immediately offered to repair it for her only at the cost of the part ($80). She freaked out, saying it was completely my fault and should be completely covered by me. I remained calm and said that I really didn't think it was my fault since she had placed it there almost directly before I sat down. She told me that she wanted me to leave her apartment. I asked if we calm down and talk about this like two reasonable people (exact words), and she declined and told me to leave. Figuring that $80 isn't worth losing a friend over (not to mention I had no where to go), I told her that if everyone else thought it was my fault then I would buy the part and fix it for free. They did (should have seen that coming), and so I told her I would fix it for free, I even pulled out my wallet and offered to hand over the money for the part right there and then.

    It was at this point that N's younger brother decided to jump in and start yelling in my face. He said, no, we're having it fixed at the Apple store. I said don't be ridiculous, they charge $450 to fix it. We got into a bit of a shouting match, with him threatening to call the police, to call his rich father, to call his rich fathers lawyer, etc. At this point the only person that had been sticking up for me said that I should probably just go, and I agreed.

    After I left, I texted N saying that I honestly didn't think it was my fault, I thought it was ridiculous that she thought she needed to punish me by making me pay many times as much to have it repaired, and I hoped that in the morning she would come to her senses and we could still be friends. Well, guess not because in the morning N emailed me with a bill from the Apple store for over $540.

    ==========================================================

    So, now that the back story has been established, on to my questions. Is there any reason that I shouldn't let this escalate to a lawsuit? She's made it clear that the friendship is over and she wants full payment. It's my understanding that if you want to sue someone over damages you should get at least a couple of different estimates, but she took her laptop to the place that would charge the very most to get it fixed. I think I should go around to the other local computer shops and get estimates and use those to dispute the amount in question, as well as dispute that she is not at least partially responsible for the damages.

    Other Important(?) Facts/Questions:
    -At the time, she claimed that she was "stone cold sober". Clearly a ridiculous claim. The occasion of the get together was a sort of local holiday which basically centers around getting as drunk as possible all day long. I had to work, so I didn't show up until 8PM, but she had started well before noon. While it's true that she had slowed down and wasn't drinking much by the time I got there, she did participate in smoking marijuana while I was there (as did I), only 1-2 hours before the incident. She had also been smoking throughout the day.

    -Everyone there (almost a dozen people) was drunk, and nearly everyone had smoked. Should I bring up the marijuana use in court? Will there be any consequences of admitting to illegal marijuana use in a civil court?

    -The chair in question is a bar chair (i.e. a taller, armless chair). The reason I bring this up is because it's the sort of chair that you can't just plop yourself down on, you have to know right where it is before sitting. I think I should use this as proof that I has already positioned myself in front of the chair to sit down before the laptop had been placed there.

    -Even though I had I had positioned myself to sit down, I did not do so immediately. I had walked over to the (then empty) chair, but gotten distracted. This part is a little fuzzy, but I think that I was talking to someone which is why I did not sit down right away. She claims that the laptop had been there for 2-3 minutes, I feel like it was at most 30 seconds to a minute as she has just been using it 2-3 minutes prior.

    -During the shouting match with N's brother, he said "get in my face" as a challenge, so I walked right up to him and looked him right in the eye. he then said "touch me" in "i dare you" sort of way, so I raised my hand and slowly and deliberately (but not forcefully) poked him in the chest. I think it was at this point he said he would call the police, citing assault. Relevant?

    -There were at least a couple of underage drinkers at the apartment, including the brother. Relevant? I am of legal age.

    -I am under probation for an unrelated incident that occurred over two years ago and should not have been drinking. However, I'll be done with it (May) by the time this would go to court. What do I have to worry about here?

    ==========================================================
    Anyway, I know this is a huge wall of text and probably has a lot of irrelevant information. I really appreciate anyone that takes the time to read through this and give me any advice you can. If you do give advice, please cite your qualifications/experience. Thanks!
  2. #2
    cyjeff is offline Senior Member
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    You touched him in an aggressive situation.

    That could have gotten you arrested.

    You didn't look where you were sitting.

    You owe for a new screen.

    Pay the bill. They don't have to trust the guy that broke it and says, "I am really good with tools" to fix it.

    I would have taken it back to the Apple store that would provide guaranteed parts and guaranteed labor as well.

    This is like a car accident where you want to tell the victim where to get her car fixed. It doesn't work like that.

    We got drunk and high people trying to estimate time and fault. That really isn't going to be something you want to describe in court.

    Just pay it.

    Missed the part where you were drinking and smoking pot while on probation.

    Pay it RIGHT NOW. The assault charge alone will get your probation revoked. Do you really want to encourage your PO to get a piss test?
  3. #3
    davidmcbeth3 is offline Senior Member
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    Sound like the guy should not have put his stuff down on a surface that people put their butts. I would offer to pay 20 bucks.
  4. #4
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    -I am under probation for an unrelated incident that occurred over two years ago and should not have been drinking.
    HHmm, although it would be mean of them to do so, if they called your PO I guess you might have a problem with the situation.


    You will lose in court. So, you have the choice of paying for the repair now or waiting until you are sued and paying for the repair plus the court costs. Then you will have a judgment that is likely to show up on your credit report.

    but it's up to you.
  5. #5
    PohTayToez is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyjeff View Post
    You touched him in an aggressive situation.

    That could have gotten you arrested.
    I'm aware that may not have been the brightest choice at the time, however does the fact that he said "Touch me." have any bearing on the situation? Those were his exact words, nothing more.


    Quote Originally Posted by cyjeff View Post
    You didn't look where you were sitting.

    You owe for a new screen.
    As I explained, I knew exactly where I was sitting. In fact, I had been sitting the same chair for a decent portion of the night, the laptop was placed there in the small window of time in which I wasn't sitting in it. You have to understand that I'm not trying to shirk responsibility here. A number of years ago there was a situation where I broke something of a friends valued at about $1,200. It was my fault, he didn't need to threaten legal action, I went out and bought him a new one even though it was just about all the money I had at the time.


    Quote Originally Posted by cyjeff View Post
    Pay the bill. They don't have to trust the guy that broke it and says, "I am really good with tools" to fix it.
    I'm sure you deal with a lot of idiots on here, but why is it necessary to take such a demeaning attitude against people who are simply looking for a bit of advice? I didn't say I was good with tools, I said I operate my own computer repair shop. I'm getting close to having been open a year now, and I've been more successful at this than anything else I've done in my life. It's a little rinky dink shop in a little rinky dink town, but everyone in the town and quite a few people from miles away come to my shop for their computer repairs.

    I might also mention that I've done hardware repair on the exact same computer before, replacing a DVD drive which on this particular model requires nearly as much disassembly as replacing the screen. The real kicker here is that I did that for free, and I've provided tech support to her for free countless other times.

    Regardless, I'm aware that legally they do not have to accept my services, which is why I said that I would want to use estimates from shops in N's area.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyjeff View Post
    I would have taken it back to the Apple store that would provide guaranteed parts and guaranteed labor as well.

    This is like a car accident where you want to tell the victim where to get her car fixed. It doesn't work like that.
    There are a number of other places in the same area that would do it considerably cheaper and also have guaranteed parts and labor. The laptop was well out of warranty, which means that there is no practical reason that it would need to be fixed at the Apple store. Even the underskilled price gougers at Best Buy would do it cheaper, and the smaller shops would do it at about half the price.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyjeff View Post
    We got drunk and high people trying to estimate time and fault. That really isn't going to be something you want to describe in court.
    Why not? She's in the same situation I am when it comes to that. It seems to me that the worst the might happen is they tack on another $50 for the small claims court costs, unless I'm missing something.

    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    You will lose in court. So, you have the choice of paying for the repair now or waiting until you are sued and paying for the repair plus the court costs. Then you will have a judgment that is likely to show up on your credit report.
    Can you explain why you think I will lose in court? I also think that is a large possibility, which is why I'm asking if I would be able to dispute the repair charges. Like I said, I can get quotes from reputable shops in the area. I am a very rational person and I can conduct myself very professionally when I need to. I feel like if I walk in to court and argue that I'm perfectly willing to pay 50% of a reasonable repair cost I would have a decent shot. $540 is not a reasonable price for this repair. The market value of the laptop is only $400-$500.
  6. #6
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    =PohTayToez;2767227]


    Can you explain why you think I will lose in court?
    Yep:

    you sat on her computer


    I also think that is a large possibility, which is why I'm asking if I would be able to dispute the repair charges.
    nope. You don't get to choose where the computer is repaired.

    Like I said, I can get quotes from reputable shops in the area.
    if this was pre-repair, you would have a shot at arguing the cost. Since she has had it repaired, the bill presented are her actual damages. That is what you owe. She is not benefitting from the more expensive repair so she gains nothing.

    I am a very rational person and I can conduct myself very professionally when I need to.
    I guess you didn't feel as you needed to that night.

    I feel like if I walk in to court and argue that I'm perfectly willing to pay 50% of a reasonable repair cost I would have a decent shot.
    then be my guest

    $540 is not a reasonable price for this repair.
    If she has a bill stating that is what she paid at the Apple store, then it is a reasonable price for the repair.

    The market value of the laptop is only $400-$500.
    that is your best bet. Walk in with proof that her laptop, including the costs to transfer all the data from the old computer to the new computer is only $400-$500 and you might have a shot at paying only $400-$500.

    Of course, you will still have that judgment on your credit report for 20 years but hey, once you pay it, at least it will be reflected as a paid judgment.
  7. #7
    cyjeff is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PohTayToez View Post
    I'm aware that may not have been the brightest choice at the time, however does the fact that he said "Touch me." have any bearing on the situation? Those were his exact words, nothing more.
    Nope. I can beg you to hit me and you would still be arrested for hitting me.

    This isn't a schoolyard where "he made me do it" counts.


    As I explained, I knew exactly where I was sitting. In fact, I had been sitting the same chair for a decent portion of the night, the laptop was placed there in the small window of time in which I wasn't sitting in it. You have to understand that I'm not trying to shirk responsibility here. A number of years ago there was a situation where I broke something of a friends valued at about $1,200. It was my fault, he didn't need to threaten legal action, I went out and bought him a new one even though it was just about all the money I had at the time.
    So you should be used to the drill.

    Ultimately, it would be your responsibility to look before you sat.

    I'm sure you deal with a lot of idiots on here, but why is it necessary to take such a demeaning attitude against people who are simply looking for a bit of advice? I didn't say I was good with tools, I said I operate my own computer repair shop. I'm getting close to having been open a year now, and I've been more successful at this than anything else I've done in my life. It's a little rinky dink shop in a little rinky dink town, but everyone in the town and quite a few people from miles away come to my shop for their computer repairs.

    I might also mention that I've done hardware repair on the exact same computer before, replacing a DVD drive which on this particular model requires nearly as much disassembly as replacing the screen. The real kicker here is that I did that for free, and I've provided tech support to her for free countless other times.
    Okay, you are good with computers.

    That still doesn't mean they have to use your services.

    Regardless, I'm aware that legally they do not have to accept my services, which is why I said that I would want to use estimates from shops in N's area
    There are a number of reasons why I wouldn't want to give my personal computer to someone that I was contemplating a civil action against.

    There are a number of other places in the same area that would do it considerably cheaper and also have guaranteed parts and labor. The laptop was well out of warranty, which means that there is no practical reason that it would need to be fixed at the Apple store. Even the underskilled price gougers at Best Buy would do it cheaper, and the smaller shops would do it at about half the price.
    But she wanted it fixed at the dealership. That happens. Her choice.

    Why not? She's in the same situation I am when it comes to that. It seems to me that the worst the might happen is they tack on another $50 for the small claims court costs, unless I'm missing something.
    Are you stupid?

    You admit to drinking and pot in a court of law and you flush your probation AND get additional charges.

    Oh, and you lose your case. You admitted to sitting on it. Your defense is that the time period you had to react was lessened to the point where any reasonable person would have failed to notice it.

    I assure you that most people would not have taken 30 seconds to realize that a laptop had been placed in their chair.

    The big difference... you were not allowed to drink by law. Judges REALLY hate hearing that someone is willing to admit to violating probation.

    Can you explain why you think I will lose in court? I also think that is a large possibility, which is why I'm asking if I would be able to dispute the repair charges. Like I said, I can get quotes from reputable shops in the area. I am a very rational person and I can conduct myself very professionally when I need to. I feel like if I walk in to court and argue that I'm perfectly willing to pay 50% of a reasonable repair cost I would have a decent shot. $540 is not a reasonable price for this repair. The market value of the laptop is only $400-$500.
    As stated above, if she has a receipt from a reliable source, it is a reasonable repair cost.

    You don't get to convince a court that because you can put it together for far less that you should be allowed to do so.

    Plead market value. Don't expect much.
  8. #8
    cyjeff is offline Senior Member
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    And yes, I read the part where you will be off probation at the time of court.

    If you would require me to go back to court, the first thing I would do is call your probation officer and say you need a urine test cause I saw you smoking pot.

    That way, you will still be on probation when the assault and civil charges come up.
  9. #9
    Kiawah is offline Senior Member
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    Seems like with all of your extra-curricular activities, that paying the Apple repair bill promptly, might be the best investment you could make.
  10. #10
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Just a few comments from the peanut gallery:

    Illinois follows the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule with a 51% threshold value. Under this rule, an injured party can only recover if his or her negligence does not reach 51% of the total negligence.

    Negligence comes from a duty to avoid foreseeable harm. So a question to be asked is who could more reasonably foresee the harm; the person who placed an expensive, fragile item on a chair were someone was just sitting and likely to sit again, or the person who had been sitting on a chair and had just gotten up?

    If a finder of fact (judge) finds the owner was 51% (or more) at fault for placing the laptop on the chair, she will recover nothing. If the judge finds her 50% at fault, she will recover 50% of the damages. If she is 10% negligent, she will recover 90%.

    If she claims plaintiff was smoking weed, will she claim that it was less foreseeable that a stoner would sit down without looking? I think that fact hurts her argument more than helps it.
  11. #11
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevef View Post

    If she claims plaintiff was smoking weed, will she claim that it was less foreseeable that a stoner would sit down without looking? I think that fact hurts her argument more than helps it.
    Based on your premise, the girl was at least 51% culpable simply by being there. She should have known some stupid drunk stoner would likely damage something. Everybody knows that drunk people cause damage.

    A person that sets on a chair without looking is simply negligent. Unless the OP wants to claim the girl intentionally placed it there with the intent OP would sit on it, I'm not seeing culpability on the part of the girl.
  12. #12
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    Based on your premise, the girl was at least 51% culpable simply by being there. She should have known some stupid drunk stoner would likely damage something. Everybody knows that drunk people cause damage.
    I'm saying that her claim that he was stoned does not help her claim any more than it hurts it.

    A person that sets on a chair without looking is simply negligent.
    I agree, but I also think that a person who places a breakable item on a chair is also negligent.

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