Question: When suing for monetary damages, can I sue for the value of the service and not the coupon price? [She's asking, how do I calculate loss of profits when the landlord fails to give the proper notice to quit and it affects my groupon business?]

Question Detail: In short, I gave my landlord her 30 days notice (it was a verbal agreement). She asked for her rent for March that same day (2/26 Usually, I pay on the 1st of each month). The next day the locks where changed and most of belongings where in the hallway. She said I was soliciting business for months. She sends me a bill for the locks, but never my rent. I had to cancel 21 appointments. 30% were Groupons. Can I sue for monetary damages based on the value of the coupons or do I sue based on the little amount I made from the coupons since Groupon takes 50%? I am on a 6 week waiting list for client appointments. How can I sue based on the possible loss of customers or can I?

Answer: I have no idea what services you were providing, but I’m not sure it would make any difference to my opinion so long as it's not criminal in nature. If in Iowa what she did was not legal. You paid the rent and she locked you out without any of the required notices. She can't do that. You can sue her under the Iowa Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and get attorney fees on her dime. I don’t care that you were couponing; the law does not provide the landlord with an excuse against tenants that might coupon or do business from their apartment. Notice is notice and in this instance there was none. It is referred to as the 3-day notice to quit.

Why I don't alter most of these questions from potential clients - I've been asked why I print many of these questions just as they are asked. The main reason is so younger lawyers get a feel for how laypeople ask lawyers a question. To mature as a lawyer it's important to have the experience of hearing the imperfectly structured question so you learn to restructure it in a manner consistent with the law. Same goes for lay people, they too need to experience the give and take of reframing a question.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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