A 66-year-old man endured a six-and-a-half-year legal battle after he was sued by a man who bought his printer on Craigslist for $40.
Doug Costello, of Ashland, Massachusetts, consequently spent $12,000 in legal fees and was found liable for $30,000 in damages for allegedly selling the broken printer on Craigslist.
In 2009, Costello decided to post a listing of his used printer on Craigslist, reported the Detroit Free Press. The printer was purchased by Gersh Zavodnik, 54, of Indianapolis. Zavodnik is an immigrant from the Ukraine who came to the U.S. in 1987 under political asylum. He is also infamous in Indiana county for filing hundreds of lawsuits, typically pertaining to his online transactions.
According to Costello, the printer, along with shipping costs, totaled $75. After the purchase, Zavodnik filed a lawsuit in a small claims court for $6,000 in damages. He accused Costello of falsely advertising a malfunctioning printer with missing parts.
Unsurprisingly, Zavodnik disposed of the printer, so there was no evidence and the case was dismissed. Zavodnik remained persistent, however, and sent Costello paperwork in 2010 claiming $30,000 worth of damages for breach of contract, fraud, false advertising, emotional distress and conversion.Stock image of a printer similar to to the one Doug Costello sold on Craigslist.
That case, along with 26 others that he filed, were dismissed. Strangely enough, in 2012 an appeals court revived the lawsuit and forwarded it back to trial court where it sat for nine months. Zavodnik sent Costello, who claims to have never received them, two additional letters demanding liability and charges of $300,000 and $600,000.
Zavodnik appeared to be aware of the ruling that states litigants who don’t respond to a filing of admissions automatically admit to liability by default. By 2013, Zavodnik had already sued over a 100 people with more than 100 pending. As a result, Costello was pulled back into court. Chad D. Wuertz, an Indianapolis attorney, told the Detroit Free Press:
“I can assure you each and every judge here in Marion County knows who Gersh Zavodnik is. And at the very moment one of his cases lands on their docket, they are considering how to deal with him.”
In March 2015, Special Judge J. Jeffrey Edens found Costello liable for breach of contract and ordered the 66-year-old to pay $30,044.07 in damages to Zavodnik. By then, Costello had already endured a six-year legal nightmare and paid $12,000 in legal fees.
Fortunately, another judge, Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, overturned Eden’s ruling and dismissed the judgment. However, Zavodnik may not be done yet and is likely to ask for a re-hearing. As for Costello, he vows never to sell anything on Craigslist again.