Man Sued For $30K Over $40 Printer Sale

| by Jordan Smith
Gersh ZavodnikGersh Zavodnik

A man has been involved in a six-year legal battle, which included being sued for $30,000, after selling a printer on Craigslist for $40.

Doug Costello sold the printer to Gersh Zavodnik in 2009, but Zavodnik claimed it was broken, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Zavodnik, who is known in Indiana as a regular when it comes to filing lawsuits, first pursued a claim of $6,000 in a small claims trial. The court quickly ruled in favor of Costello because Zavodnik had not kept the evidence.

“I figured that’s it,” Costello told the Star. “But no, no, no. Now I’m in another twilight zone.”

Zavodnik appealed the decision, and sent Costello three separate demands to admit his guilt: one agreeing to pay damages of $30,000, another damages of $300,000, and a third for compensation of $600,000.

Costello did not respond to these demands, and claims he never received them. But under Indiana state law, a failure to respond to such letters within 30 days amounts to an admission.

A number of judges refused to take the case, and Zavodnik challenged the appointment of another. This prompted the Indiana Supreme Court to appoint a special judge to hear the case.

When a decision was finally made by a special judge in March 2015, the ruling was in favor of Zavodnik. Judge J. Jeffrey Edens said that asking Costello to pay over $30,000 may appear excessive, but he had admitted guilt by failing to respond under Indiana law.

Costello appealed, and almost a year later, Appeals Court Judge Nancy Vaidik ruled in his favor.

"[Zavodnik] did not send requests claiming $30,000 and $300,000 and $600,000 because he believed those figures are legally justified and thought Costello might agree,” wrote Vaidik. “He sent them because he hoped Costello would not respond, rendering the matters admitted...”

The Appeals Court ordered a hearing to be held in order to determine whether to throw the case out.

Costello is not the only one who has been caught up in a suit filed by Zavodnik. He has repeatedly sought to sue for thousands from online purchases he has made.

In 2014, the Indiana Supreme Court said that the 54-year-old was a “prolific, abusive litigant,” according to the Indiana Lawyer. He “burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with missive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive and often meritless filings.”

Sources: Indianapolis Star, Indiana Lawyer / Photo credit: Kelly Wilkinson/Indianapolis Star

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