After many years of long, drawn out, landlord-tenant disputes arising from delinquent rent payments, Eamon Merrigan’s client obtained a court order to evict the Plaintiff’s auto repair shop from his 7,500 square foot garage. Mr. Merrigan’s client then gave the Plaintiff the required 30 day notice to remove all contents from the garage. The Plaintiff failed to remove the contents, which included, but were not limited to approximately 40 automobiles, most of which belonged to customers of the Plaintiff.
As a result, the police department was contacted, and all of the vehicles were towed by the police through the use of subcontracted towing companies and salvors upon the declaration of Mr. Merrigan’s client that the vehicles had been “abandoned” on his property. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed suit in Federal Court against Mr. Merrigan’s client, as well as against the police and the salvors. The suit alleged abuse of process, conversion, conspiracy to commit conversion, and violation of the Plaintiff’s 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure. Plaintiff sought recovery of compensatory and punitive damages, as well as substantial attorney fees. Prior to trial, the Plaintiff demanded $2 million in settlement of his claims.
During the trial, as the lead attorney amongst the defendants, Mr. Merrigan produced evidence indicating that the Plaintiff had continuously failed to pay rent despite many reasonable accommodations and compromises being made by his client. He further produced evidence that the Plaintiff, who was alleging damage to his reputation and the reputation of his business, previously had a reputation within the community for being a “deadbeat” who did not pay his bills, and had been sued by numerous creditors prior to the incidents in question. Mr. Merrigan further argued that his client, under the law, had no further responsibility to the Plaintiff 30 days beyond the eviction, and that he was entitled to dispose of the items and vehicles left on his property in any way that he saw fit. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Merrigan’s client on all claims.