Can’t Squeeze Blood Out of a Turnip?

Don’t throw good money after bad.  If the person who has damaged you has no ability to pay after you win a judgment against him,  it makes no sense to sue him.  This applies to individuals and businesses.  If you want to sue a business,  attempt to determine before filing whether or not the business will be able to pay your damages.  Often the ability to pay is easier to determine with a business.  For example,  a business with several different locations will in all likelihood be able to pay damages.  Businesses often carry insurance to cover types of risks arising in the ordinary course of business.

It is often more difficult to assess whether or not an individual can pay damages.  However,  in some cases there are facts which clearly suggest you won’t be able to collect on a judgment.  For example,  many residential tenants can’t pay rent because they are unemployed,  or candidates for bankruptcy.  Suing them for unpaid rent or damage to your property might be futile.  On the other hand if you know the former tenant has a good job,  wage garnishment can be an effective method of collecting on a judgment.  It can take a number of months to get your money,  but eventually you can have your judgments satisfied with a wage garnishment.  It is also quite common for the individuals involved in a business who have signed personal guaranty on a commercial lease to have the ability to pay a judgment.

Before You File – Evaluate Your Case and Negotiate

Before filing a lawsuit you should attempt to negotiate a resolution of the dispute.  In most cases client’s have attempted to negotiate a resolution of the dispute prior to contacting an attorney.  We still advise clients to attempt a negotiated resolution after retaining us and before filing a lawsuit.  The first step should be to evaluate the facts,  circumstances and the relevant law.  The purpose of such an evaluation is to determine the likelihood of success and the strength or weakness of your position.  In straightforward fact situations,  prior to considering a lawsuit,  a consultation is recommend to evaluate the dispute,  evaluate the evidence and arrive at a course of action.  In more complex fact situation,  we recommend a limited engagement before considering a lawsuit.  We evaluate the facts and the law relevant to the facts with the objective of deciding on the best course of action.

Common Types of Landlord Lawsuits

If you’re a landlord and you need to sue a tenant to recover damages,  or your tenant sues you,  we can represent you in the litigation.  In addition to eviction lawsuits,  there are three common types of litigation matters we regularly handle for Arizona landlords.

Breach of Contract

If your tenant fails to perform as required by the lease and the  tenant’s breach costs you money,  you can sue the tenant to recover your damages.  We regularly handle breach of contract claims for Arizona landlords against former tenants.  An Arizona landlord has a duty to mitigate damages caused by a breach of contract.  This means a landlord should attempt to put another tenant in the property as soon as reasonably possible.  A landlord’s damages are calculated by multiplying the monthly rent times the number of months the property was vacant during the term of the breached lease.

Because the facts of these cases tend to be straightforward and the course of litigation similar from case to case,  we require a standard advance fee of $1,500 to undertake this type of lawsuit.  Note that in Arizona, the prevailing party in a lawsuit over a contract gets an award of attorney’s fees and court costs from the other side.  Fees and costs are added to the amount of the judgment the landlord obtains.  If you would like to explore undertaking this type of lawsuit send Norm Keyt an email explaining the situation or go to our online store.

Personal Guaranty

We regularly represent commercial landlords seeking enforcement of personal guarantees typically associated with a commercial lease.  Our advance fee for this type of litigation matter varies depending on the number of personal guarantors and the size of the claims against the guarantors.   Because lawsuits of this type are fairly straightforward our advance fee starts at $2,000.  You can discuss your personal guaranty case with Norm Keyt by sending him an email.  You may also go directly to our online store to begin the engagement.

Damage to Property

If a tenant damages your property,  beyond normal wear and tear,  you have a claim against them for your damages.  These cases range from situations where tenants have intentionally inflicted substantial damage as retaliation against the landlord,  to situations where tenants destroy carpet by failing to control their pets.  These cases can be hotly contested by tenants.   It is important for the landlord to begin preserving evidence as soon as possible.

Before undertaking any repair work take a multitude of digital pictures of the damage.  Save the names and contact information for all people who work on the repairs.  They are potential witnesses.  Keep all your records related to estimates and repair work.  The damage to the property must be more than what would have occurred through ordinary wear-and-tear.  If the house was due for a carpet change because of ordinary wear-and-tear,  don’t attempt to hold your most recent tenant responsible simply because they were there when the carpet wore out.  On the other hand if your tenant has destroyed the carpet or the pad by letting their pets urinate all over the carpet,  you have a good claim for damages.  Collect and preserve as much evidence as possible regarding the damage to the property.

Because they are frequently contested by tenants,  our advance fee for this type of case starts at $2,500.  The fee is placed in trust and we bill against it as work progresses.  Often in a situation where tenants have damaged your property,  they have also breached the lease contract.  Because of this we typically ask for attorney’s fees and court costs in addition to damages in the complaints we file with the court.  One word of caution before considering this type of case.  It is not uncommon for the type of tenants who trash a property to be “judgment proof.”  This means that they may not be working or may not have any assets that could be executed upon to collect your judgment after you win the case.

On the other hand, if you know your former tenant is working,  a wage garnishment to collect the judgment is always possible.  If you believe you could collect from your former tenant after getting a judgment then this type of lawsuit can be used to make yourself whole.  If you want to consider this type of lawsuit, start by sending an email to Norm Keyt explaining the situation.  You can also go directly to our online store to begin the process.


We do all Types of Commercial and Real Estate Litigation

We can handle virtually any type of commercial litigation for you.  We don’t do personal injury cases.  Almost all commercial and real estate cases involve a contract.  Arizona law states that in cases involving a contract the prevailing party in a lawsuit is entitled to attorneys’  fees and costs from the other side.

Our litigation matters are managed by Norm Keyt,  who has been a litigator for over thirty-five years.  Norm reviews all new client matters.  Commercial and real estate litigation is customarily billed at hourly rates by the attorneys and paralegals involved.  The hourly rate depends on the skills and experience of the particular attorney.  To begin a litigation matter,  we require an advance fee,  or retainer.  The advance fee varies depending on the type of matter and the complexity of the facts.    The advance fee is placed in our trust account.  As work progresses,  you receive a monthly statement detailing the work performed on the case.  We pay the monthly statement from the balance of funds held in trust.  If you need a lawyer to represent you in a lawsuit,  contact Norm to discuss the case.

Common Types of Litigation Cases We Handle

The Real Estate Deal Gone Bad

If you’ve entered into a real estate purchase contract on a home,  or parcel of land in Arizona and the other side has breached the agreement,  we can help you resolve the dispute or litigate the case if necessary.  Most Arizona residential property sales use a standard contract published by the Arizona Association of Realtors.  This contract requires mediation of the dispute prior to any resort to litigation.   We recommend that clients retain us prior to the mediation to assess the strength or weakness of the clients position.  Even if the contract involved in your real estate transaction is not the standard Realtors contract,  we recommend that clients attempt to negotiate a resolution of the dispute before considering litigation.

However,  if mediation or negotiation fail to resolve the dispute we can represent you on a lawsuit to recover your damages or to force performance of the contract.  If the seller of real estate breaches the contract, it is possible to force the seller to complete the transaction through a lawsuit.  Sometimes sellers attempt to back out of a deal because the have another offer for more money.  The won’t tell you that this is the reason they are attempting to back out of the deal, instead they will attempt to use a subterfuge based on a condition in the contract.   In many cases,  it is possible to sue the seller for breach and seek specific performance of the contract by the court.

If you are involved in a real estate deal gone bad and would like legal assistance,  follow this link and explain the situation to Norm Keyt.

Been sued by a lender on a real estate loan?

These are tough cases to defend unless the loan has been securitized,  or sold and the loan documents are missing.   Defending a lawsuit based on a promissory note is almost impossible.  We employ an approach to this type of lawsuit designed to save you money in legal fees and minimize your liability.  However,  if the lender no longer has the promissory note it is a completely different story.  This situation can arise when a note (mortgage) has been sold to different parties over time.  Banks group large numbers of mortgage loans into “bundles” and sell them to Fannie Mae or investment banks who then sell derivative securities based on the mortgages.  Sometimes as the mortgage bundles changed hands,  the loan documents didn’t follow the bundles.  If this is the case,  you may be able to defend against this type of lawsuit.   Tell us about the case and we can help you decide on a course of action.

Estate Litigation

KEYTLaw drafts wills,  trust and offers estate planning to clients. But even the best drafted estate planning documents can be challenged in court by excluded  or disgruntled beneficiaries.  We can help you defend your estate plan against any challenge.  If you are a beneficiary,  trustee or personal representative and you’ve been sued contact Norm Keyt to discuss your options.


We represent creditors in adversary proceedings or Chapter 11 cases in federal bankruptcy court.  If you would like to discuss your bankruptcy representation needs contact Norm Keyt.

Deadlock or conflict among members of your LLC?

We can help you negotiate a resolution to LLC member disputes or if necessary seek a judicial dissolution of the company. Tell us about the dispute and we can help you decide on a course of action.