Business next door is suing us

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Business next door is suing us

We own a restaurant business and this new business opens up next door. They have a rat issue then they are blaming it on us because we are next door and we are food service business. They called health department and our business got closed down for 1 day. We don’t know why they have mice issue but we have never seen one. We have opened our business for 4 years and since then, we never had seen a mice. They hired a guy who he stated he works for a pest control company he came in and took picture of our kitchens without our permission or approval. Since we were opposing him coming in, he stated that our kitchen is gross, etc. Then, we hired a pest control company and they didn’t find any. They set mice trap and none was found. We showed our pest result to the Health Department, so we are back on business. Then, later, few weeks later, pipe got clogged outside, they blaming it on us, they said we pour oil into the drain causing the clogged pipe, which it is crazy because the clogged pipes are affecting our business. When pipe got clogged, our bathroom toilets won’t flush. Why did we want to do that? So, we called landlord, landlord hired a plumber. So, we paid it out of pocket because the plumber stated it was oil clogged the pipe, which landlord blamed it on us. We swear that we never pour oil into. Nevertheless, the expense is on us. From all these time, the next door kept blaming their business loss on us. They are small exercise and massaging business and we are food service. They state because of the rat and clogged pipe, their business got affected. We got closed down for 3 days due to that as well, did we seek for financial loss from them? Now, next door business close their business and the landlord contacted me stating that next door is suing us?

Asked on January 18, 2017 under Business Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If they are suing you, you can of course pay what they are seeking, if it's a small-enough amount that you'd rather pay then go to the time, effort, and cost of fighting; you can offer to settle for some mutually agreeable amount; or if there is no amount you will pay or no amount they will agree to, you can defend yourself from the suit. You don't need to do anything unless and until they actually do sue you and you get the court paperwork (summons and complaint). If they do so, to win, they'd have to prove that you are responsible for their business loss, which would seem to be very difficult: not only would they need to prove you were the source of the rodents and clogs, but then they'd also have to prove somehow that those things caused their problems. If they can't prove this, they lose; based on what you they would not seem to have a very good or strong case.


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