I was granted a judgment award for property damages by a former tenant. After doing a walk through with the new tenant, we found more damages from the former tenant. Can I start a filing of a new case for different property damages against the same defendant/tenant? A court employee told me I might not be able to do so, but if these are totally different damages, I don't see why I could not do this.
You typically only get one bite at the apple. If a driver hit you and caused injuries to your arm, your knee, and your back, you wouldn't get to sue him three different times (once for the arm, once for the knee, and once for the back). You would have to include all of your claims in one action. Here, the tenant caused damages to different parts of your property; that doesn't mean you get to sue him for each individual part of the property that was damaged.
This communication is general in nature and not to be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. All situations are different and you should meet with and discuss your particular situation with an attorney.
The usual rule is that a plaintiff cannot sue for breach of the same contract twice, and must claim all resulting damages in the first breach-of-contract case. But the rule is not ironclad. Much depends on whether you could have discovered the new damages in time to include them in your first claim. If the newly-discovered damages should have been spotted through a reasonably diligent inspection the first time around, I'm afraid you are out of luck! But if the newly-discovered damages were "latent" (meaning, something hidden from view that surfaced only after your first lawsuit ended), you have a shot at maintaining a second suit.
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