Can we counter-sue for lost wages and indirect cost.

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Can we counter-sue for lost wages and indirect cost.

My wife and I are landlords from out of state. After our tenents moved out of our Indiana home, we used there security deposit to cover repairs and refunded the rest they sued us for the entire amount. We took off work, drove 4 hours, paid for copies proving our case, and we showed up for court. They didn’t show up so the case was dismissed without prejudice. Can we counter-sue for lost wages?

Asked on November 20, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately you cannot: there is no legal cause of action or recognizable claim for lost wages when you take time off for court (or travel costs to get to court) and the other side fails to show up or you otherwise win. Our legal system believes that each party must bear all of its costs, both direct (like legal fees) and indirect (e.g. cost of time) in litigation, and does not let (with a very exceptions, which do not here apply) one party to recover its litigation costs from the other. The social policy underlying this is a belief that having party A pay party B's costs will discourage A from going to court and trying to vindicate its rights, but our system prizes wide, unrestricted access to courts. Even though this does result in injustices, our legal system still requires each party to bear its own costs, in service to the goal of not effectively barring people, especially poorer people, from court.


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