Should There Be Limits to Tenant Lawsuits in Idaho?

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

As reported by the New York Post, a tenant of a famed Bowery flophouse has been banned from suing his landlord.  Roland Davis, 65, had already sued the Whitehouse Hotel at 338-340 Bowery 23 times in seven years, losing every time, when Manhattan Judge Kelly O’Neill took the unusual step of barring him from pursuing any more litigation against its past and current owners.

“I am both relieved and excited, not just for me, but for the fact the courts are willing to recognize that nobody should be permitted to use the system as a weapon,” said Meyer Muschel, a former owner of the building who had been sued.

“Nobody should have to be subjected to several years of abuse, especially at the hands of a system meant to protect all of us,” he said.

Muschel and new owner Sam Chang had sued Davis in 2013 to stop his legal shenanigans. O’Neill sided with the pair, ruling that Davis, acting as his own lawyer, filed his suits solely to “inconvenience and badger” Muschel and Chang, who have spent over $200,000 defending the baseless claims.

Davis, an $8.32-a-night resident, would file claims in Housing Court demanding that management make repairs to his tiny windowless room, and would then refuse to let the workers in, according to court papers.

Davis also claimed he was being harassed. Yet he tried to extort the owners for a “lifetime job” and even assaulted Muschel in 2009, threatening he had a “butcher knife with his name on it,” according to court papers. The incident resulted in a restraining order against Davis, records show.

The incessant litigation “wreaked havoc” on Muschel and Chang, they say in court papers. The landlords and their lawyers made over 100 court appearances due to Davis’ suits.

“While public policy generally mandates free access to the courts, the court will not tolerate the use of the legal system as a tool of harassment,” O’Neill wrote.

O’Neill left the door open for Davis to sue again, but only if he’s represented by a lawyer or with the permission of a chief judge.

“People have to be stopped,” said Muschel’s lawyer, Steven Sladkus. “You can’t get away with filing lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit against somebody even if you’re doing it pro se. It’s very disruptive, time-consuming, and costly.”

Idaho does allow tenants to sue landlords but only if they first follow the statutory requirements set forth in Idaho Code 6-320(d) which reads:

Before a tenant shall have standing to file an action under this section, he must give his landlord three (3) days written notice, listing each failure or breach upon which his action will be premised and written demand requiring performance or cure. If, within three (3) days after service of the notice, any listed failure or breach has not been performed or cured by the landlord, the tenant may proceed to commence an action for damages and specific performance.

If you are a landlord or a tenant in Idaho and you have questions about whether a tenant can sue the landlord, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at  We will answer your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate questions and will help you solve your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate needs.


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