Lawyer, Left To Sleep On Park Bench, Sues Airbnb

The New Jersey lawyer had booked a 12-day stay in New York with an Airbnb, but things didn’t go well, almost as if he had a cloud over his head. Karma. It’s a bitch.

on Labor Day weekend he was supposed to stay at a SoHo apartment for 12 days but the host didn’t respond to him on check-in day Sept. 1 after a dispute over a change in his booking that would have increased the cost of the stay by more than $600, according to his Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Why this matter would be in Supreme Court is unclear, given what would appear to be at most a petty claim for damages that fails to meet the $25,000 jurisdictional threshold. As for the host not responding after a “dispute over a change” isn’t clear either. Was there a reason the host failed to respond, such as the dispute and the manner in which it was handled by the NJ lawyer? That can happen, especially when the lawyer behaves poorly.

Was this “change” in the booking that caused an increase of “more than $600” the host’s fault? Was it Airbnb’s fault? Or was it the fault of the lawyer, and the host’s decision not to deal with this individual was the lawyer’s problem? Airbnb tried to help anyway.

[The NJ lawyer] had Airbnb find him a last-minute accommodation through the app, but they wouldn’t cover the difference in cost, the suit claims.

Then Rakofsky said he couldn’t find an affordable hotel room on the busy tourist weekend and wrote to Airbnb “I’m afraid for my safety!” at 6:38 p.m., according to the court papers.

The company said it would pay for half of a hotel room that cost no more than $300, the court documents say.

Hotel rooms in Manhattan can be quite expensive, but Airbnb’s willingness to contribute $150 per night toward his stay seems rather accommodating. There are certainly hotels in the outboroughs that can be had for a more reasonable price. Still, the lawyer couldn’t manage to find a room.

“Plaintiff explained to Defendant, Airbnb, that, because he was stranded in Manhattan on a National holiday weekend and that because he was deprived of the ability to book the hotel room in advance, the cost of a hotel room would be prohibitively expensive and would certainly cost much more than $300,” the court papers read.

Stranded might be a bit hyperbolic, given that the lawyer was from New Jersey. He could have hopped on a train back to the Garden State if he felt unsafe and beleaguered by the “deprivation” of not having booked a room in advance, or not created a dispute that made the original Airbnb host want nothing to do with him.

But the New Jersey lawyer’s really bad night wasn’t over yet.

In the end he says he “was forced to sleep on the street, exposed to the harsh elements, noise and violence.”

At 2:30 a.m. Sept. 2, “some unknown person assaulted and battered Plaintiff by throwing a rock at Plaintiff’s head, causing him to bleed and fall to the ground, thereby injuring his back and neck,” the court papers allege.

Sounds awful, although the police report he filed was slightly less horrifying.

The report noted that he was “hit by a pebble on his head” while he was sitting on a bench, according to police, who called it a “minor injury” and noted that [the lawyer] “refused medical treatment.”

And so the lawyer has chosen to sue Airbnb pro se for his damages, including the brutal pebble attack, which he believed to be “intentional but he wasn’t able to give a description of his alleged assailant.” Who would want to do harm to this particularly lawyer sleeping on a park bench in Manhattan in a mystery.

Will this lawyer succeed in his suit against Airbnb? Hard to say, of course, although this particular lawyer has experience suing pro se in New York County Supreme Court, but it hasn’t turned out well for him in the past. Still, no one should be hit in the head with a pebble while sleeping on a park bench, even if it’s not the stuff of which a movie is made. But then, there’s always karma. And a wee bit o’ schadenfreude.

17 thoughts on “Lawyer, Left To Sleep On Park Bench, Sues Airbnb

  1. Dan

    Not that I’m not terribly broken up by poor Joseph Rakofsky’s misfortune, but there really seems like a failure to mitigate damages here. Seems like he hasn’t learned anything yet. Ah well, there’s always hope…

    Schadenfreude does seem inappropriate for Christmas Eve, but…

  2. Skink

    There should be a thing, like a list, of things that should, but don’t, go away. Then, we should be able to take the list and do something, like burn it or something, and the things go away.

    Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to find under the tree?

    1. Guitardave

      Dear Skink,
      Are you certain you want to do this? Me and my little black kitty might be able to help you out, but you know, there’s high price to pay for such a large scale conjuring of this nature. If it works, the world will no longer have any use for lawyers, judges, cops, shrinks, doctors, and all who support them.
      I doubt you want to learn to code, so maybe buy some stock in the company’s that print ‘How to code’ books. You may have to find a new home though, as the swamp will be invaded by thousands of unemployed lawyers who will migrate there when they find out how inhospitable Manhattan park benches are.
      Best wishes, GD.

  3. B. McLeod

    Obviously a park bench in New York would be much safer than any place in Jersey, because no guns are allowed. This is probably why his assailant(s) had to resort to pebbles. The story provides no indication whether these were Fruity Pebbles, or some other variety. I am not sure how Air BNB should have foreseen random activity by a possible cereal criminal.

  4. Tom H

    I’m not a lawyer, but there is no way I would ever choose sleeping on a park bench to save money. If there weren’t any hotel rooms left in all of NYC I would pay for a suite out of my own pocket. For my own safety.

  5. Hunting Guy

    Idiots like that make me want to puke.

    At least he had a park bench and it was only a pebble.

    Someone that hit the beaches on D Day or did time in the sandbox needs to explain the facts of life to him, but I doubt that it would do any good.

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