Pro Bono Advocates Fight for Mother of Two Left on the Curb by Unscrupulous Landlord

After receiving a notice of eviction from her current home, a divorced mother in her 50’s placed a security deposit in the amount of $3,900 on a new home for herself and her two children.

The day before her scheduled move in, she was informed by the condominium association’s management office that she was not approved to move in and therefore was not going to receive access to the unit. Despite her efforts, she was unable to locate the landlord to resolve the matter.

All her efforts were to no avail. Pro bono attorney Donald Mason partnered with St. Thomas University College of Law student Berkefield Hugh to assist this mother of two with retrieving her stolen security deposit. Mr. Mason mentored Mr. Hugh, and they drafted a demand letter on her behalf. In response, the landlord sent partial payment stating it constituted full and complete release of all claims.

The pro bono team then prepared a Small Claims Complaint for the monetary difference and asserted the offer of settlement was invalid. For 6 months, they fought a bitter battle with the landlord to recover the stolen funds.

Ultimately, the Court agreed with Mr. Mason and Mr. Hugh, and they successfully recovered the remaining deposit of $2,600 plus $317.91 in costs and interest, which the client can now use to find a suitable home. Mr. Mason expressed that it was important to “send a very loud and clear message to someone who would wrongfully withhold a portion of the security deposit.” Mr. Mason is a great pro bono advocate, who took the time to mentor a law school student on a litigation case that changed a client's life.

For information on how you can support our pro bono efforts, please contact Chief Diversity Officer & Pro Bono Advocacy Director Jayme Cassidy at

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