“It’s global warming. I’ve already told you and explained to you everything. What do you expect me to do?” Jin yells into the phone.
“You are the inspector who inspected and signed off on the house. I am going to sue you.” Chichi’s voice comes through the phone even louder than Jin’s.
“Chichi, you didn’t buy a pump as I asked you to and you didn’t go home when the rain started. No wonder.” Jin yells angrily and hangs up the phone.
Jin served as the house inspector when Chichi was purchasing her house in Edison, New Jersey. Edison has an average elevation of 39 feet (which is 12 meters), lower than the surrounding township. Even before the era of global warming, the flooding of basement in Edison had not been as infrequent as people wanted to believe. Nowadays, it has become a more common issue. Jin is a conscientious inspector and he always fully reveals the danger and the peril of a flooded basement to his clients. “You must purchase a pump and you must be ready to drop everything to rush home whenever it rains.” He would tell people.
Edison is a seller’s market, meaning there are more buyers than sellers. The town has a good school system, which attracts all the parents from the surrounding areas. It is also not as expensive as other towns with good schools. Consequently every house here is snatched up by desperate parents no matter how bad a condition it is in.
Strictly speaking, Jin should recommend half of these houses to get rid of their basement and do a remodeling before they are allowed to be sold, but Jin is living in a real world. He has to make a living. If he refuses to sign off on these houses, somebody else will. People would just simply stop calling him to come to inspect and he would starve.
Jin puts his cell phone back to his pocket and looks around. He is at Ivy Training Center (ITC), where his son was attending an after-school pre-calculus class. He comes to pick his son up and he’s waiting for the class to end. Lulan, an employee of the ITC, hears his conversation.
“Is that the same Chichi who’s famous in suing everybody she encounters? When she wants to send her daughter Mai to our training center for English classes, our owner Ivy dares not accept Mai, who is a nice girl. But her mother is impossible to deal with. Whenever she’s not happy, she will sue you. The best way is not having any transaction with her at all.” Lulan says.
“Oh, my goodness. I thought she’s just joking. Is she really going to sue me? I mean she wants me to pay her $8000 for the basement damage. Otherwise she’s going to sue me. If I know she’s like this, I wouldn’t have wanted to inspect her house. You know I am always desperate for clients and if I don’t have at least two houses every day to inspect, I can’t even make a living. What will happen if she sues me? I will lose my license. What am I going to do? I don’t have other skills?” Jin is panicky.
Jin is so worried that he can’t eat and he can’t sleep. He does have the professional liability insurance, which is a pool of fund that will cover the lawsuit and the reimbursement of client, but he will be banned from the profession until he pays back all the money to the pool. What other jobs can he get? He has no idea. Suddenly he feels that his life is crumbling down around him.
Ivy, who’s the owner of the Ivy Training Center, introduces the lawyer Sunny Tai to Jin.
“Don’t worry, Jin. Chichi has sued too many people around here and she has many enemies. I can organize a support group for you with at least twenty people, all victims of Chichi’s lawsuits. Myself included.” Sunny says.
“She sued you? What did you do to offend her?” Jin asks.
“It’s a long story. She’s the queen of frivolous lawsuits, although in your case, it is not really frivolous since she wants the money for her basement.You know this is how she makes extra money every year. She just claims she wants to sue you for $1000 for something frivolous. Most people don’t have the time to go through a lawsuit with her. Most people just pay her half of the amount to settle out of court. Now I want to win this case for you no matter how much the jury might sympathize a consumer like Chichi. I want to. Work with me and we can do it. I am not a vengeful person but I think people like Chichi should be stopped.”