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Pro Bono Victory Protects Bay Area Tenants from Landlord Abuses and Negligence

October 10, 2019
Latham litigators secure crucial monetary settlement for family who suffered squalid living conditions for more than two years.

A team of Latham litigators won a US$240,000 settlement for a single mother of two young children who sought help to save her family from uninhabitable living conditions in their Oakland apartment.

On a pro bono basis and in partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center, Latham sued our client’s landlord after she had suffered through years of uninhabitable living conditions in an apartment building in Oakland. Our client and her children lived in an apartment that contained rodents, insects, mold, broken fixtures, and non-functioning safety devices. The infestation was so severe that the family would often find dead rodents in their food and in the children’s toys and suffer from the smell of dead rodents within the walls. On several occasions, the client had to take her children to the hospital for respiratory issues resulting from the horrific living conditions. The landlord ignored our client’s requests for repairs and instead threatened to evict the family. With no affordable alternatives, our client lived in these squalid conditions with her two young children for more than two years.

The settlement achieved compensation for our client and her two children, and obtained open access to the entire building for City of Oakland inspectors.

“The dark side of the Bay Area economic boom is deteriorating housing conditions for many low income residents who cannot afford to leave their apartments. We are pleased to have been able to address the problems for at least one group of tenants.” stated Steven Bauer, the Latham & Watkins partner who led the team.

Erin Le, Director of East Bay Community Law Center’s Health & Welfare Program added: “I came across this case through the Medical Legal Partnership we operate, and when I visited the site for habitability, I was astounded. Unfortunately, this isn’t an anomaly – many of our clients are faced with these unacceptable living conditions. We truly appreciate Latham attorneys readily stepping in to help. This is a victory for all Bay Area tenants who are victims of abusive landlords.”

In addition to Steven Bauer, the San Francisco-based Latham team consisted of associates Kelly Fayne, Max Mazzelli, and Gaby Kapp. East Bay Community Law Center staff attorneys and clinical supervisors – Marc Janowitz, Daniel Faessler as well as Erin Le consulted on the case.