Where the defendant raises an affirmative defense, the defendant has the burden of proving that defense by a preponderance of the evidence. In determining if the burden of proof is established, the court considers all evidence, both in support and contrary to the proposition, and then weighs each to determine which is more convincing.
Due to concerns over the physical condition of the mobile home park and rent increases, appellant tenants formed a tenants' association and met to discuss the problems. One such meeting resulted in an altercation between the tenants and the regional manager of the park. The park then evicted the tenants after the forcible entry and detainer action. The lower court ordered the tenants removed. On appeal, the court reversed as to six tenants and affirmed as to two tenants.
Did the court err in rejecting the plaintiffs' affirmative defense of retaliatory eviction?
The court held that six of the tenants offered substantial evidence of retaliatory termination. They were active, vocal members of a newly formed tenants' association. They made good faith complaints about the mobile home park and, though they participated in the meeting where the regional manager was allegedly attacked, they did not encourage or participate in it. The tenant who did the attacking of the regional manager did not establish the affirmative defense of retaliatory termination.