OKAY kids, I’m back from Small Claims court, and very much buoyed by everyone’s support and personal messages.
SUMMARY: I was denied damages of $5K, based on the judge’s view that I had voluntary signed the Terms of Service waiving a right to damages. BUT the judge tore UP the AirBNB attorney for “making money off this host, but not providing her due process or any real investigation.”
The judge ordered AirBNB to do something to write a note on my listing to state (trying to remember exact wording …) something to the effect of, “This review is false and the host has been reinstated.”
She said to come to her if this did not happen and she would issue a contempt of court ruling.
The other defendants and plaintiffs in the courtroom were nodding and meeting my eyes and going “Umm hmm” as the judge made it clear there had been NO investigation of my case whatsoever.
Air’s attorney was a total rookie – this was his first District Court or any court appearance perhaps since graduating from law school 2 yrs ago. He did well! We are near-neighbors and both walk our dogs in the big nearby park, so we will greet each other going forward. No hard feelings, none of this stuff is personal.
I have ordered and paid for the audio recording of this trial as well, and will obtain and edit it in time … might take 7 to 10 days. (And upload it and post it here, God willing.)
Did an indirect shoutout to @Brian_R170 noting “there are a lot of eyes on this hearing” and “other hosts* have been very kind in offering support, and one fellow host found this posting.” *This forum and one other
The audiotape will be entertaining, I promise, it was all very Judge Judy (U.S. reality court show).
Some BIGGER takeaways:
- You will hear on the audiotape that the judge raises the COMPLETE lack of due process and fairness in AirBNB’s dealing with hosts. (But her hands were tied by my agreement to the ToS.) I am frantically trying to look up the state of Maryland’s laws on contract waivers to see if I can appeal … I think this kind of case is VERY juicy to run up the chain of appeals, because the ToS anymore are getting crazy.
- I’m not sure about folks overseas or in other U.S. states, but my experience to date (if it can be generalized to others, who knows) is:
- A) AirBNB can win against you in this kind of lawsuit because of the waivers in the contracts we more or less sign via the ToS
- B) you CAN sue the guest for defamatory reviews and get damages; that is not covered by the ToS