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How Selling a $40 Printer on Craigslist Turned Into a Legal Nightmare For This Indiana Man

The drama still isn’t over.

Image via CC (user: rjp)

Most technology has a short shelf life. That $700 iPhone you invested in today will probably be worth less than half that when you trade it in before your next expensive upgrade. But at the very least most of us don’t end up spending a small fortune after unloading a used piece of tech online. But that’s exactly what happened to Doug Costello. Back in 2009, the Indiana resident sold a black and white printer on Craigslist for the very reasonable price of $40. The problem was the guy who bought it from him, Gersh Zavoknik, has a long history of suing people over alleged scams and misrepresentations.

What follows sounds like something out of a nightmare. After Zavoknik initially filed a claim for $6,000, the largest amount available in small claims court, his lawsuit was dismissed after it turned out he had already thrown out the allegedly broken printer. Everything seemed resolved on Costello’s end. But not so fast. “I figured that's it,” Costello told the Courier-Post. “But no, no, no. Now I’m in another twilight zone.”

Zavoknik then filed a series of additional lawsuits for escalating damages upwards of $600,000, claiming a series of infractions including “breach of contract, fraud, conversion, deceptive advertising and emotional distress.”

The problem for Costello is that Indiana state law mandates that if an individual doesn’t respond to a complaint within 30 days, that failure to respond is in itself an admission of responsibility. A local judge awarded Zavoknik $30,044.07 for breach of contract. So, Costello finally hired a lawyer and says he’s already spent “at least” $12,000 of his own money. The $30,000 judgment has since been thrown out, “with no basis in reality” but the drama reportedly isn’t over. Costello told the paper he won’t ever sell anything online again.

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