Tenderloin Hotel Owner owes tenants for damages. Tenants forced to live with leaking ceilings, unclean environments and assault have a win in the court of appeals.
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Appeals Court: Squalid Hotel Owes Damages
Decision upholds $237,000 in awards to 16. tenants in the Tenderloin
A state appeals court has upheld $237,000 in damages awarded to 16 tenants of a Tenderloin hotel where residents were assaulted, ceilings leaked for years and garbage piled up.
There was ample evidence to support a jury’s verdict that conditions at the President Hotel, at 935 Geary St., violated basic standards of habitability and that a lack of security contributed to crimes in the building, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said Wednesday,
The owners’ “failure to have any gate-keeping function whatsoever resulted in the hotel being a play- ground for trespassers, transients and criminals,” Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline said in the 3-0 ruling.
The 10-story residential hotel, owned by Hermann-Sutter Associ. ates, rents rooms by the month. The 16 plaintiffs, current and former residents, are mostly elderly and disabled. They were awarded damages ranging from $4,900 to $26,000 for injuries, financial losses and emotional distress. In addition to the $237,000, they were awarded $96,000 in attorneys’ fees.
“It once again shows you cannot mistreat elderly tenants in San Francisco,” said Randy Shaw, the executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which represented the tenants. “This is great news.”
Calls to the hotel went unanswered Thursday night.
Conditions described by the court included elevators that were often out of service. One tenant had to lie down for as long as an hour to rest after reaching her room via a staircase, and several others, including an amputee, refused to leave their rooms when the elevators didn’t work, the court said.
The owners arranged for garbage removal by a drunken man who first searched for bottles and cans, and crushed the cans on the carpet, soiling the hallways, the court said. Garbage cans in the hallways were not emptied for five or six days, and garbage piled up in the basement. One tenant complained to the manager and was told to move if he was unhappy.
One tenant’s ceiling leaked for eight to nine years, and another leaked 2 feet from his bed for 40 days while he was bedridden recovering from a stroke, the court said. The City cited the owners for numerous violations. . · “The jury certainly was justified in finding these defects materially affected the health and safety of (the residents),” Kline said.
The court also upheld the jury’s findings that the owners could be held responsible for criminal activity in the hotel.
One tenant was assaulted three times, was ignored when he complained to the manager, then was beaten and robbed in May 1993, Kline said. Other tenants were threatened, pushed and punched by trespassers.
The court said the owners failed to hire a desk clerk or take other steps to limit access to the hotel. Strangers and homeless people slept in the lobby and the halls. The security guard was sometimes drunk and slept on the job. An assistant manager was a crack cocaine user who bought drugs in the lobby and brought drug dealers off the street to smoke crack in the hotel, the court said.