Landlord wins 30,000 suit against wealthy tenant.
The story in the press:
The owners of an upscale home in Dallas’ exclusive Preston Hollow neighborhood have won a complete defense victory and significant attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit filed by Dr. Craig Schwimmer, founder of The Snoring Center, and his wife, Shanon, following a two-year dispute over a security deposit.
Dallas attorneys Darrell W. Cook, Catherine A. Keith and Melissa J. Parker of Darrell W. Cook & Associates won the case on behalf of Oklahoma residents Olayinka and Akinola Ogundipe, who own the 5,100 square-foot property on Meaders Lane.
Dr. Schwimmer and his wife asked for more than $48,000 in their lawsuit, but they were awarded nothing and instead were ordered to pay more than $30,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
“Dr. Schwimmer signed a lease requiring him to maintain this lovely home, but instead he trashed much of the property and added insult to injury by filing this lawsuit,” says Mr. Cook. “Fortunately, the judge refused to let Dr. Schwimmer avoid his obligations and entered judgment for the full amount requested by my clients.”
The Schwimmers paid $16,000 in security deposits before moving into the house in 2013. Shortly after the doctor and his wife terminated the lease and moved out in June 2015, the Ogundipes discovered extensive damage to their yard and home. The owners then began collecting estimates for repairing damaged windows and woodwork, and restoring the poorly watered and maintained yard, which was filled with pet waste.
The Ogundipes refunded nearly $5,000 of the deposit and withheld the remaining amount for repairs. Shortly after, they were contacted by the Schwimmers’ attorney, Brian Hurst of Baker & McKenzie in Dallas, one of the country’s largest law firms.
Mr. Hurst sent an email cautioning the Ogundipes that he suspected they “would prefer not to incur the time and expense of defending a lawsuit in Texas. Nor would you want the existence of this lawsuit, which may be found in a title search, to interfere with your efforts to sell the house.”
The Schwimmers then sued for three times the deposit amount, claiming the damage amounted to normal wear and tear. They also accused the Ogundipes of violating the Texas Property Code by not refunding the deposit within 30 days. Mr. Cook countered by noting that the Schwimmers breached the lease by paying their rent late seven times in less than two years, and that their deposit was refunded only one day late, after the repair estimates were completed.
Following a bench trial, Judge King Fifer of Dallas County Court-at-Law #2 ruled in the Ogundipes’ favor and ordered that the Schwimmers take nothing. The judge also required the Schwimmers to pay more than $1,600 for additional repairs and $30,000 to cover the Ogundipes’ attorneys’ fees.