$ 2.7 Million Jury Prize Confirmed Against ‘Predatory’ California Owner

A San Francisco landlord once described as a “ruthless predator” who allegedly tried to chase tenants from rent-controlled housing owed to pay them $ 2.7 million, a state appeals court ruled.

Last month, the court upheld the award in a 2015 lawsuit brought by Dale Duncan and Marta Munoz Mendoza, who lived in the apartment building with their daughter.

The lawsuit claimed that a company controlled by Anne Kihagi had harassed them for more than a year in an attempt to force them out of their apartment in order to obtain better paying tenants.

They were eventually forced to leave when the landlord filed an “Landlord’s eviction to move in” which allows for eviction if a landlord is going to live in the building. Kihagi claimed that a family member who also had an interest in the apartment-owning company would move in, which never happened, according to the family’s lawyer.

The family moved into a two-bedroom house with rent almost triple what they paid for the apartment, according to their lawsuit.

In 2017, a jury awarded them more than $ 3.5 million, which a lower court reduced to $ 2.7 million.

In its 3-0 decision upholding the award, the First District Court of Appeals said the owners “ignored or delayed responding to maintenance and upkeep issues, were uncommunicative and uncooperative, and further became more hostile “.

The ruling said this included removing recycling bins, refusing to fix a leaking water heater, blocking access to a laundry room, and being able to shut off electricity.

Messages seeking comment from a lawyer who represented Kihagi were not immediately returned.

It is the latest in many legal battles involving Kihagi, who once owned nearly a dozen apartment buildings in San Francisco.

City attorney Dennis Herrera at one point described Kihagi as “a ruthless predator – targeting tenants of rent-controlled apartments for harassment and unlawful evictions, and targeting the elderly and disabled for particularly despicable abuse.” .

In 2017, Kihagi was fined $ 5.5 million in a lawsuit filed by the city attorney.

A judge said Kihagi and his co-defendants exhibited a “persistent pattern of bad faith harassment, retaliation and fraud” targeting tenants.

The properties have been placed in receivership and some have been sold.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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