Landlord evicts tenant from a rent-stabilized apartment, supposedly so son can move in to apartment. Eight years later, the former tenant finds out that the son never occupied the apartment as required by law.
- Case Name: Linda Simmons v. Julius Sentirmay, Vivian Sentirmay, and Does 1 through 20
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Central / BC484814
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, October 09, 2014
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, May 18, 2012
- Type of Case: Landlord-Tenant Issues, Real Estate
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John J. Kralik
Plaintiffs: Linda Simmons, 51
Defendants: Julius Sentirmay and Vivian Sentirmay
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $200,000
Award as to each Defendant:
The jury found in favor of plaintiff and awarded her $155,000 in compensatory damages, joint and severally as to each defendant, and $45,000 in punitive damages as against Vivian Sentirmay.
$155,000 in compensatory damages for loss of possessory interest in rent-stabilized apartment as a result of plaintiff's wrongful eviction by defendants in violation of Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff is seeking attorneys’ fees and costs, including expert costs and pre-judgment interest. Defendant's motions for JNOV and a new trial were denied. Defense says it will appeal. Defendant also sought to tax costs by separate motion; granted in part.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Venskus & Associates by Sabrina D. Venskus, Los Angeles.
Campbell & Farahani LLP by Frances M. Campbell, Sherman Oaks.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Doherty & Catlow by John J. Doherty, Los Angeles.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Richard Devine, Ph.D., economist, San Francisco.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Catherine M. Graves, CFA, Fullerton.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
In June 2003, Linda Simmons was evicted by defendants Julius and Vivian Sentirmay from her rent-stabilized apartment. The defendant landlords contended that they needed Linda Simmons’s apartment so that their son could move into her unit; that this is a permissible ground for eviction under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
Plaintiff claimed that her eviction was fraudulent, because the landlords’ son never moved into her unit, and, instead, the defendants remodeled the apartment and raised the rent to market rate, in violation of city ordinance and state law.
Eight years following the eviction, plaintiff learned from a former neighbor that the former neighbor had also been evicted so that defendants’ daughter could move into his unit, but that the daughter did not move into the neighbor’s unit. It was not until she received this information that plaintiff learned that defendants' son had never moved into her apartment.
Discovery revealed that a third tenant had also been fraudulently evicted, purportedly so one of defendants’ daughters could move into the third tenant’s unit. Plaintiff alleged that defendants had fraudulently evicted her to circumvent the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance and re-rent the unit for an increased rent. Plaintiff also alleged that defendants evicted plaintiff in bad faith because they increased the rent charged to the subsequent rent-paying tenant for a residence from which a former tenant was evicted so that a family member could move in.
Plaintiff claimed defendants wrongfully evicted her and violated the ordinance. Finally, plaintiff alleged that the eviction violated state law because defendants’ son never maintained residence in the unit for a continuous six months after the eviction of plaintiff.
Defendants contended that they intended that their son and his wife move into plaintiff's unit, but after a family dispute their son did not move into the unit, and that the eviction was therefore not fraudulent. Defendants also argued that plaintiff had sustained no economic damages.
Demands and Offers
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $25,000.