Millions of Craigslist transactions are safely completed each year, but there are still many incidents where something goes horribly wrong. There are lots of scams to watch out for, on top of your personal safety when completing transactions with the site.
The latest bizarre Craigslist transaction involves a six-plus-year legal battle over a $40 printer. Yes. You read that right.
Doug Costello, a 66-year-old man in Massachusetts, was selling his old black and white printer for $40 on the site. But now, he finds himself responsible for nearly $30,000 in damages and $12,000 in legal fees after this sale went horribly wrong.
The man who bought the printer, Gersh Zavodnik, claims the printer was broken when he received it, and filed a lawsuit asking for the maximum $6,000 in damages.
Here's what you need to know about Zavodnik before we go any further - he's filed at least 123 lawsuits in six years, most cases involving broken or damaged items he purchased online, and he represents himself in court each time. He's what legal people call a "frequent lawsuit filer" and "attempts to make his living by filing lawsuits." In fact, he's been told by court officials to stop.
When the original suit went to court, Zavodnik lost his case because he did not have proper evidence, as he had thrown away the printer in question. The case was thrown out, but by no means was Zavodnik done.
Zavodnik bounced back filing another suit with the county's Superior Court, and sent off requests for admissions to Costello, which asked him to admit to $300,000 and then $600,000 worth of damages for fraud, breach of contract and conversion. The letters also told him of a hearing he would need to appear at.
Here's where Costello made his biggest mistake. The admission letters require a response within 30 days of being received. Costello never responded to the admission letters and he missed the hearing. By Indiana Law, that means Costello admitted to the charges by default.
With no end in sight. Costello has since hired a lawyer to fight the charges and claims Zavodnik is misusing the system, which many others have also accused him of. It's a legal headache that has been going on for far too long. Here's a brief timeline of the rest of the case:
- July 2013 - Costello misses the hearing.
- Fall 2013 - A lawyer for Costello files to drop the admissions.
- March 2015 - Zavodnik is awarded $30,044.07 for breach of contract by Special Judge J. Jeffrey Edens.
- March 23, 2015 - An appeal is filed and the appeals court took Costello's side, claiming "the $30,000 in damages had no basis in reality."
To make matters worse, it's still not over. The appeals court has ordered a hearing back in trial court to get the case dismissed.
Needless to say, Costello told local media outlets that he will never sell anything online, ever again. He also says he has no plans to sue Zavodnik, telling local media, "I don't need him in my life anymore."
Has something similar ever happened to you? Tell us about your Craigslist horror story in the comments section below.