A recent article in USA Today highlights the perils of trying to handle your own litigation without the benefit of counsel. According to the article, a Massachusetts man sold his used black and white printer on Craigslist for $40 in 2009. Unfortunately, for the seller, the purchaser was a vexatious litigator - someone who frequently uses lawsuits to harass people. The purchaser sued the seller for all sorts of frivolous claims, starting out first in small claims court. But, over the course of the litigation, the seller missed a deadline in responding to written requests for admissions and eventually ended up with a judgment against him in an amount over $30,000.
The seller's pain continued with the trial court upholding the verdict on a technicality. At some point, the seller finally hired counsel - one who had litigated against the same purchaser before - and took the case to the court of appeals. Eventually, but only recently, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's damages award.
Handling a case pro se is difficult enough, but when one is up against a vexatious litigator, the task can be even more daunting. Fortunately, the seller in this situation appears to have found solid counsel, albeit late, to help him hopefully bring this matter to a close. One wonders whether the seller's problems could have been avoided had counsel been hired sooner.
The article is found here.