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Trial Victory for Florida Consumer Lawyers vs. Lark on 42nd

Posted by Sami Thalji | Feb 16, 2024

Florida Consumer Lawyers recently won a trial against Lark on 42nd. Here are the facts: Lark on 42nd tried to evict our Client for a non-monetary violation. Our Client hired us to fight the eviction based on his complete denial of the allegations against him. Eventually, we reached a settlement agreement with Lark on 42nd resulting in our Client moving out around the end of his lease term and a dismissal of the eviction case. Apparently, the settlement agreement wasn't good enough for Lark on 42nd because 5 days after our Client moved out, they sent him a move out statement illegally charging him for their attorney fees on the eviction case.  Lark on 42nd followed up with 2 more debt collection letters, the last one of which threatened third party debt collections, negative reporting on our Client's credit, and the possibility of a new lawsuit against him.  As a result, Florida Consumer Lawyers sued Lark on 42nd for a violation of the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act (FCCPA), specifically, Lark on 42nd's attempt to collect attorney fees from our Client was illegal. Months after filing our lawsuit against Lark on 42nd, they countersued our Client for damages and attorney fees. Lark on 42nd claimed that our Client breached the settlement agreement and now owed them damages and attorney fees.

After a full trial where Lark on 42nd presented the testimony of their General Manager and Assistant General Manager, the Court ruled in our Client's favor. The Court not only found that Lark's attempt to collect their attorney fees was an illegal debt collection attempt under the FCCPA, but the Court also found in our Client's favor regarding Lark on 42nd's counterclaim. Specifically, the Court found that our Client did not breach the settlement agreement. The Court also made note that Lark on 42nd's behavior in this lawsuit could be construed as retaliation against our Client.

The Court ruled that there are only two ways to claim attorney fees against any party, first, you can collect attorney fees if the law allows it. Second, you can collect attorney fees if the contract between the parties allows it. In this case, as in all Landlord Tenant cases, the law and the contracts are the same. Florida Statute section 83.48 grants attorney fees to the prevailing party in any lawsuit. That means you have to win your case and get court approval to collect attorney fees. The contract or lease between the parties also stated that the prevailing party may collect attorney fees from any legal dispute. Here, there was no prevailing party in the eviction case because it was settled per an agreement. Lark on 42nd seemingly didn't care and attempted to collect their attorney fees illegally. Even after being confronted with this fact, Lark on 42nd made no attempt to settle the case and instead decided to pursue the money from our Client illegally. Lark on 42nd then doubled down by counterclaiming against our Client for alleged damages to the apartment. Rather than settling the case at mediation, Lark on 42nd decided to go to trial. We were more than happy to put this matter before a court of law. This proved to be a costly mistake for Lark on 42nd. The Court ruled that Lark on 42nd's collection attempt was illegal and that they did not have any authority to attempt to charge and collect attorney fees. The Court also ruled that our Client did not breach the agreement or lease and did not owe Lark on 42nd any money for damages.

Lark on 42nd, like most apartment complexes these days, seem to be owned by large investment funds or corporations. In our experience, many investment funds and corporations that own large apartment complexes seem to make a practice of taking advantage of their tenants by charging them a wide variety of illegal fees ranging from liquidated damages, to insufficient notices fees, to attorney fees. In our opinion, the collection of illegal fees seems to be a standard part of business for most investment fund and large corporate owners of apartment complexes. They continue to charge these illegal fees and report delinquencies to people's credit reports because they know if they ruin your credit or hurt your chances of renting in the future, that you will feel the pressure to pay. They also charge their tenants illegal fees because they know that most tenants will not seek the advice of experienced lawyers like Florida Consumer Lawyers, so they can just roll over them. These acts or not only illegal, but they are unethical. If you believe you've been charged illegal fees by Lark on 42nd or any other apartment complex, there is something you can do to fight back. The first step is to call or email Florida Consumer Lawyers for a free consultation.

About the Author

Sami Thalji

Sami Thalji is a native Floridian, born in Clearwater and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sami graduated from Osceola High School in Seminole, Florida before attending and receiving both his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida in Ga...


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