This is the second time I got sued in the pooper scooper business. Twice in 26 years isn’t too bad though. The first time was back in 1990 or so. It was a simple enough mistake, sort of. I was contracted by customer to do a one time clean up and then a regular weekly service afterward. Nothing out of the ordinary since that is what we do. So I get to the customer’s house and remove 11 bags of poop. Now each bag is actually a 13 gallon trash bag and was pretty full. At that time it was still not my record, that was 27 full bags of dog poop! Yech!
Anyway, I finish up, go on my merry way and return for the next few weeks like I was suppose to for the regular service. After a month or so I noticed that she hadn’t paid her bill yet and I called to remind her. She said she’ll get that in the mail. (Before I started using online billing, oh wait, online didn’t exist yet.) Another few weeks go by and still no payment, so I discontinue service. I continue with the calls and after a few months, she still has not paid, so I decided “What better way to address this concern than simply returning the poop?” So I kept all the poop that I collected from one whole day of scooping and went to her house and “returned” it. Sounded good and right and just to me. What happens when you don’t pay your car payment? The bank comes and gets you car. What happens when you don’t get paid for your services? You undo your service!
Well, apparently that’s called illegal dumping and the lady sued me for it. She was obviously a con artist as she even tried to get me to pay a vet bill because her dogs got sick from the returned poop. Only problem was that the vet bills were from several month before I started working for her. Why couldn’t the judge see that? She won! I had to pay her $500! Now if it was actually her dog’s waste that I returned, that would have been OK. Such a fine line. It doesn’t happen too often, but now when someone doesn’t pay their bill I send them to collections and screw up their credit.
“I’m sorry Mr. Potential Homeowner, we’d like to give you a mortgage, but you can’t even pay your pooper scooper.”
That brings us to this second and latest lawsuit. This may be even funnier. I was at a customer’s house and as I walked in the backyard, there was a fence painter, painting a fence. No duh. And a handyman who was doing some woodwork on the patio cover. There was construction materials all over the place and as I was figuring out how I was going to navigate my way to the water spigot to connect my hose, the fence painter lady said “use that one” pointing to a water spigot next to a BBQ island. I was thinking to myself that I was going to use that anyway, but I said “great”, and “thanks” to be polite and proceeded to hook up my hose to spray OdorMute on the dog run. As I finished up spraying the customer’s dog run with OdorMute, I turned off the water to the hose, unscrewed the hose from the spigot and went on my merry way.
Later that night I get a phone call from a person who claims I ruined his ipad mini. Do explain. Apparently, this guy was the handy man at the aforementioned house and he had stored his ipad mini underneath the water spigot that I used to clean the dog run. I kind of felt bad for his stupidity, but never the less, I offered to chip in for a used ipad mini. He refused and wanted a brand new one. I said, “good luck with that.” I know you don’t believe me, so I inserted a picture of the ipad mini under the water spigot, courtesy of the plaintiff that had someone post the picture on my yelp page with a one star rating. ooooo.
After going back and forth a few times I made him a final offer, not only by the kindness of my heart, but I figured it would cost me more to defend this in small claims court if it went that far. We’re talking at least a half a day of lost work, finding a parking space, waiting in the courthouse til we’re called. Etc. I told him I’ll chip in 1/3 for a used one, he can get the painter lady to chip in 1/3 since she’s the one that said to use “that” spigot, and he can pay for the other 1/3 because he’s the one that left it under the water spigot. He refused again.
(Actually I considered offering 1/6 the cost for a used one. According to his logic, if I was responsible because I used a spigot to, of all things, hook a hose up to, then the painter lady who told me to use it, the homeowner, the builder who installed the spigot there, the city of Santa Clarita who approved the plans to install a spigot there, and of course, the handyman who stored his ipad mini under it, would all have part responsibility.)
Sure enough, a month or so later I get a call from a person that wants to discuss the small claims filing. What filing? I never got any notice. Ah, she was one of the producers for People’s Court. You know, that daytime small claims court TV program that started over 20 years ago with Judge Wapner. Here’s the deal, I get flown to New York, limousined to the hotel, limousined to the studio where the show is taped, limousined back to the airport, given $80 for food while I’m there, and, for the topping… if I were to lose, they would pay for any judgement! If I win, I get $250 for my troubles.
Of course the first thought in my mind was… “Can I bring my wife?” Sure, no problem. If I had known what day the taping was taking place we could have stayed another day or two – on them. If you’re gonna get sued, this was certainly the way to do it.
Now for the verdict that I know you’re all waiting for. Let’s just say that I talked more about my business and the pooper scooper industry than the facts of the case. Although, I don’t know how much editing will take place since the episode has not aired at the time of writing this. I’ll leave a space to post the episode when it does. I’m sure Ralph Edwards and Stu Billett, the producers, won’t mind if all four of my followers know the results before the episode airs, but after tearing into the plaintiff for being stupid for leaving an electronic device under a water spigot… judgement for the defendant! Woo hoo! Yea me! The funniest part of about this whole ordeal was even after given several opportunities to take any personal responsibility, the plaintiff still refused!
The moral of this particular story, if you’re in business, get general liability insurance because you never know who’s going to sue you or for what insanely stupid reason they will sue you for!