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CJC Students Win Judgment for Elderly Client

Ms. R is an elderly woman who had dreams of purchasing a home for her and her great-granddaughter, whom she is raising. Sadly, her dream did not become a reality and instead, Mr. D, the owner of the property she sought to purchase, exploited her vulnerability by taking her money and failing to meet the terms of their agreement. Ms. R came to the Civil Justice Clinic for representation during the fall 2018 semester after being referred by Justice at Work.

Lydia Ellsworth ’19 met with Ms. R and communicated with her through the use of an interpreter. She learned that in October, 2015, Ms. R and Mr. D signed an agreement of sale for Mr. D’s home. He informed her that the property was currently not eligible for a mortgage.  Because Ms. R needed to secure a mortgage to purchase the property, the agreement was contingent on Mr. D making a series of repairs to the house in exchange for $5,000 from Ms. R.  Ms. R immediately gave Mr. D the full payment, with the understanding that all repairs were to be completed by December.

However, come December, the house was still in disrepair. Mr. D sought additional money from Ms. R to complete the repairs, which she could not pay. Mr. D’s actions prevented Ms. R from moving ahead with the mortgage. He offered to return Ms. R’s money but never did, leaving her devastated to lose the home and $5,000.

Lydia gathered evidence, prepared and filed a complaint against Mr. D in Philadelphia Municipal Court, seeking the deposit money, costs incurred due to the breach and interest. Sarah Groody ’19 and Scott Zlotnick ’19 represented Ms. R at the hearing in March.  Sarah presented an opening statement to the Judge and the direct testimony of Ms. R. Mr. D contested the facts conveyed by Ms. R but the Judge decided in favor of Ms. R and awarded her $5,500. Scott and Sarah negotiated a payment plan with Mr. D which was favorable to Ms. R and she has already received a substantial lump sum. Ms. R was very appreciative that she will finally receive the money she has been owed.