Vytas Juskys and his small business manage apartment buildings and are committed to constantly upgrading and making repairs to the homes of the tenants. He thought that improving their apartments and the common areas would help his residents love where they lived; he never expected that one of them would thank him with a lawsuit.
Juskys was in the process of improving an apartment complex he had just acquired when he learned he was being sued. He had been making a variety of repairs to the building and the surrounding facilities, and he was posting regular repair notices on the tenants’ doors, as is required by law.
But one tenant claimed that these notices caused her emotional distress, and she sued Juskys for $500,000. The irony, Juskys says, is that the plaintiff had personally been requesting improvements and then sued him for notifying her that he was planning to make them.
“There’s no way to avoid it,” Juskys says. “At some point, if you’re into real estate, you’re going to get sued. We’re easy prey.” The lawsuit not only took away from Juskys’ ability to focus on his tenants and the properties he manages, it also prevented him from initiating new projects, hiring extra employees and creating jobs.
On the day of the trial, Juskys’ insurance company decided to settle the case, and he was required to pay thousands of dollars out of his own pocket.
Juskys now understands why businesses settle even the most frivolous of lawsuits. Small businesses like his can’t win, he says. Even if he had gone to trial and the jury had ruled in his favor, his only winnings would have been a legal bill, higher insurance rates, and lost time.
“You try to do everything right,” Juskys says, “and it’s just not good enough.”