“My wife and I joke about the fact that I’m one of the rare guys that gets to go play everyday. I love going to work. I get to do it every day and it’s fun.”
As the president of Master Landscapes in Salinas, California, Rollie Haas spends most days working with plants and designing beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, not every experience in running his business has been fun.
“I had a lawsuit from a former friend of mine,” Rollie says. “The guy had 20 acres and we were renting/leasing that land from him. The driveway coming into it was atrocious so we put about $15,000 worth of road work getting a driveway for our equipment to come in and out.”
“He had some of his equipment parked there and he told us on a regular basis if we ever needed to use any of his stuff, just feel free.” But it ended up that his friend’s equipment was faulty and not serviceable.
“I called him and says we tried to use this equipment but its leaking oil like crazy so I don’t think it’s safe,” he says. The conversations became more like harassment, and finally Rollie had an opportunity to move his plants to another piece of property. “A few months later we got notified about this lawsuit for having destroyed his equipment, ruined his well, and destroyed his road,” says Rollie.
“They were planning on it being, at most, a one day trial and it got stretched into three. Case ended with me being vindicated and the fellow who was suing me having to pay all my attorney fees, and all the other expenses.”
Unfortunately, however, those weren’t Rollie’s only costs.
“Some of my employees had to come into court and testify,” says Rollie. “Not only the fact that you’re paying them to come in and testify, you’re losing the production of what they would be out doing.”
“In many cases there are people who have absolutely no loss or problem with the situation but they found a point of law that they can sue on,” he says. “Then attorneys looking for money jump on it.”