This Week’s Wacky Wednesday: Sometimes You Have to Beware of Buyers

Craigslist, second hand, printer, seller, court, fraud, deception, advertising, damages, misleading, costs, litigious, sue, vexatious litigant

This Week’s Wacky Wednesday: Sometimes You Have to Beware of Buyers

When selling something through Craigslist, it should be nice and simple. You list what you are going to sell, someone shows interest, they pick it up and give you cash or trade. In theory, it should be very easy. It’s not much different from classified ads in newspapers. However, even when something should be simple, there is always the chance for a problem to arise and for abuse to occur. A man named Doug Costello did not really figure he would have too much trouble when he listed his old printer for sale for $40.

Things Get Complicated and Litigious

The man believed that it would be a simple transaction, and it actually started out simple enough. He found a buyer, and with the shipping costs, it totaled under $100. He sold the printer to a man named Gersh Zavodnik, a 54-year-old man who was originally from Ukraine and who had moved to the United States in 1987 and who was living in Indianapolis at the time. What Costello did not know is that since the time Zavodnik moved to the United States, he had become something of a lawsuit lover who files frequently.

In fact, the Indian Supreme Court had even labeled Zavodnik as being a litigant who was prolific and abusive. During his years in the country, he has brought about dozens of lawsuits to the courts. They have been against businesses and individuals like, and most of the time, he asks for incredibly large sums of money. The majority of the lawsuits stem from online sales, as well.

Costello was accused by Zavodnik of advertising and selling a printer with missing parts and then taking his money. In the complaint, Zavodnik said that he had tried to work things out with Costello, but that in the end, he felt like he had no choice but to file another lawsuit. He initially sued Costello for maximum damages of $6,000 for the printer he spent less than $100 on. This case ended up being thrown out of court because he did not have any evidence, as he had tossed the printer out.

Costello figured that would be the end of it, but Zavodnik would not be discouraged. Zavodnik decided that he would sue for damages again, this time for fraud, conversion, deceptive advertising, emotional distress, and breach of contract. This time, he was suing for $30,000. This case was dismissed, along with another 26 cases that Zavodnik had filed. He then began to appeal all of the dismissals, and eventually, the Indiana Court of Appeals, for some reason, brought the case back.

Zavodnik continued to send requests for admissions of liability to Costello – one for $300,000 and one for $600,000. Costello did not respond to them because he said that he never got them. Eventually, and unbelievably, the court awarded Zavodnik $30,044.07 for breach of contract. Of course, Costello appealed the ruling, and another judge said that the damages did not have a basis in reality.