Small Businessman Raped By Legal System

A small businessman that owns rental property was sued by a woman claiming “mental distress” because he left on her door notices that informed her of repairs, notices that he was required by law to leave for her knowledge.

This is the sort of abuse of the system that drives up costs for all of us. In Chicago it now costs renters a starting monthly rental fee of $1,000 a month for a small one bedroom apartment (sometimes two depending on what part of town). One thousand a month is absurd and in outlaying areas of the city is the amount you can get for a mortgage!

It is easy to see that constant regulations and the revolving door of the legal system because owners are being sued by every other renter causes rental prices to soar. This is why we need tort reform as this stuff acts as a corruption tax that makes the cost of living higher for all of us.


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.”

Copyright Publius Forum 2001