This is an extraordinary quote from an article in the New Yorker:
In February, 1932, the Times published an account of community resistance to the eviction of three families in the Bronx, observing, “Probably because of the cold, the crowd numbered only 1,000.”
Now, evictions rarely attract crowds. According to the same article, “the majority of poor renting families spend more than half their income on housing,” with the predictable result that millions of Americans are evicted every year. Evictions are no longer unusual. They are so common the idea of a crowd showing up for every single one is inconceivable.
This is another profound quote from that article:
If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.
The consequences overlap. Both convictions and evictions land on records, and both make it harder to get a job, credit, rent an apartment, and ultimately get out of poverty.
I don’t mean to suggest that it is wrong to evict people who aren’t paying their rent. What’s wrong is that so many Americans can’t pay rent, and that so many of the Americans who can’t pay rent are black. Those are complicated problems. Criminal justice reform is finally getting some attention, but we really need to work on both issues.
Back in 2006, 80-year old Kenneth Hammel brought his 2000 Chrysler Town & Country minivan to the Cherry Hill Triplex dealership. The dealership kept Hammel at the dealership for 12 hours while they used high-pressure sales tactics to get him to buy a 2005 Kia Sedona.
When it turned out that the Sedona’s wheelchair lift did not work properly, the dealership sold Hammel yet another minivan. In the end, Hammel paid over $42,000 to Cherry Hill.
Hammel sought out consumer rights lawyer Craig Thor Kimmel, who helped him win $13,893, in addition to treble damages of $41,679, plus attorney fees.
The moral of the story: don’t feed the jerks. Never let any salesperson pressure you into buying something. If you are getting heat from a salesperson, walk away and find somewhere else to buy. If you think you did get ripped off, do what Hammel did and talk to a lawyer right away to find out if there is anything you can do.
To add (just) insult to (just) injury, a Florida judge awarded $518,301 to Angela Williams’s attorneys (PDF link). Ms. Williams recently won almost $3 million in a lawsuit against Equifax for Equifax’s refusal to fix her credit report after her identity was stolen.
While it may not be obvious when a consumer receives such a high verdict, without attorney fee awards, most attorneys would not be able to bring lawsuits against credit reporting bureaus like Equifax, unscrupulous debt collectors, mortgage fraudsters, and other consumer predators. As the 11th Circuit said over two decades ago, “[t]he award of attorney fees, as a practical matter, is a critical and integral part of [the creation of a system of private attorneys general.]”