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Friday, October 17, 2008

Ind. Courts - "Roommates defend settlement before Indiana Supreme Court"

Oral arguments were heard yesterday at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, before the Indiana Supreme Court in the case of Stanley Klotz v. Sarah Hoyt & Chrissy Kornmann - see this ILB entry from Oct. 13th for background. Marcela Creps reports today in the Bloomington Herald-Times in this story ($$) -- here are some quotes:

Tenants Sarah Hoyt and Chrissy Kornmann admitted they had done a few things wrong when the roommates decided they could no longer share a Muncie apartment. But despite not paying most of the rent and leaving the apartment damaged, the two won a court case in which the landlord was ordered to return their security deposit.

The appeals case, Klotz v. Holt, was heard at the Indiana University School of Law by the Indiana Supreme Court, allowing members of the public a glimpse into the legal system.

The two women, who rented an apartment in Muncie in 2006, signed a year’s lease and paid rent for the first month and a half. But the two didn’t get along, repeatedly fought and eventually parted ways. In the split, only Hoyt testified that she notified the landlord, Stan Klotz, of her intent to leave. Klotz started eviction proceedings and attempted to collect rent payments as well as costs incurred when the two damaged the apartment.

The tenants agreed that they didn’t pay the rent. They also didn’t dispute that the apartment was damaged. But Hoyt still wanted her security deposit back based on a statute that required Klotz to provide an itemized list of damages.

Despite being owed $6,300 in back rent and late fees of $2,270, as well as $2,848.94 in damages to the apartment, Klotz lost his bid to recoup any money and instead was ordered to return the deposit. He is appealing that decision.

During Thursday’s proceedings, attorney David Karnes argued that his client, Klotz, had provided an itemized list to the tenants on March 16, 2007, the same date of a damages hearing.

The justices questioned why the tenants didn’t request a continuance upon being presented with the damages list in court. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard asked Karnes if he believed the tenants had a right to ask for a continuance, and Karnes agreed. * * *

Hoyt’s lawyer, Alan Wilson, argued that the damages list lacked specifics. Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. questioned Wilson about his concern about specificity. Wilson maintained the list needed to be more clearly defined.

Shepard pointedly asked Wilson what should happen in this case. “Spin it. What do you think should have happened?” Shepard asked.

Wilson argued that the tenants were misled about what they needed to defend in court because they received the damages list in court. Wilson also agreed that the tenants should have asked for a continuance, but he asserted that his clients were not legally savvy and may not have realized that was an option.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 17, 2008 12:11 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions