Next time you innocently put something up for sale on Craigslist, remember the tale of Doug Costello. As the Indianapolis Star explains, Costello sold a $40 printer in 2009 to Indy resident Gersh Zavodnik. The 54-year-old Zavodnik claims it didn't work and soon initiated legal action. It's something he's very good at, having been described by the Indiana Supreme Court as a "prolific, abusive litigant" who has brought dozens of suits against both companies and individuals. In this case, Zavodnik actually won a $30,000 judgment at one point against Costello, though it has since been tossed. In the meantime, Costello has spent about $12,000 in legal fees—and the case isn't quite over yet.
The $30,000 judgment came when Zavodnik, representing himself, sent Costello, who was then representing himself as well, paperwork asking him to admit that he was liable for $30,000 for breach of contract. Then he sent two more such requests, one for $300,000 and another for $600,000, and Costello missed a 30-day window to respond. He also missed a court hearing, and the trial judge said he had no choice to but to impose the penalty. At that point, Costello lawyered up, and an appeals court declared that the $30,000 penalty "had no basis in reality." Now it's back to the trial court to determine if the case should be dismissed "based on Zavodnik's repeated, flagrant, and continuing failure to comply with Indiana's rules of procedure." Costello's own description: "twilight zone." Click for the full story.