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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: Dealing With Jerks

March 5, 2008

Jerks. We all have interactions with them from time to time. That being said, this article is not about how to handle disagreeable people during ordinary social interactions, but, rather, what to do when a dispute with an objectionable person may mushroom into a courtroom battle and whether or not it is worth it.

Below I list some examples of reasonably common disputes that usually are resolved through calm discussions. However, when one party involved is a rude, dishonest, obnoxious person (i.e. a jerk), people often want to escalate the dispute because of how intolerable the other person is.

1. A builder performs a faulty renovation that ends up costing a homeowner $5,000 extra dollars.
2. A builder performs a $40,000 renovation and the homeowner fails to make the last payment of $7,500.
3. The board members at an Association (condominium, homeowner’s or any other type) fail to follow the bylaws and the declaration of covenants or favor one landowner over another.
4. A member of an Association fails to abide by the bylaws and the declaration of covenants.
5. There is a dispute as to boundary lines between neighbors.
6. A child is bullied repeatedly by another child at school.

This list could continue for pages. Most of these issues should be resolved by discussions between the parties. However, when matters become emotionally charged by unpleasant exchanges, common sense and clarity are usually replaced by anger and impulsiveness. Below I list some questions to consider (and suggested answers) before running to a lawyer or court to pursue a legal action against the other side.

* Is it worth pursuing legal action, when the amount of costs and legal fees will likely surpass the potential recovery? The answer to this is almost always a resounding \"NO!\" The sole exception is if you have the resources to pursue a matter which you feel strongly about.
* Is it worth pursuing legal action if the amount at issue is only a couple thousand dollars or less? Yes. You can pursue such actions in small claims court where most people represent themselves and costs are low.
* Are there any risks in bringing a case to court other than the costs? Yes. Potentially, the other party could bring counterclaims against you, which puts you at risk of financial loss. You should also consider the time and stress that accompany any court proceeding.
* Is it worth bringing a legal action if no money is involved? Yes, depending on the case. Many cases involve injunctive relief (getting a party to stop doing something that is or could be damaging to you).
* Is it worth pursuing a dispute based on principle? Rarely. As touched on above, it is a matter of your resources, and how strongly you feel about how you were treated.

When a dispute arises, people often become very emotional, especially in the middle of the long, cold winter months. Before pursuing a dispute, you should consider whether it is worth it from both a monetary and emotional viewpoint. In sum, you should not allow disagreeable people to make you abandon common sense. Whether or not to pursue legal action should be a well thought out decision, not an impulsive one based on an unpleasant experience.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay