Two years after filing their class action lawsuit for slum-like living conditions at the Grand View Apartments, former tenants of the Paso Robles complex settled the case for more than $4 million.
"We can't undo the harm that the tenants of Grand View Apartments suffered, but we are very happy that they will receive some compensation for their suffering and property losses," San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF) Legal Director Stephanie Barclay wrote to New Times.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- NECESSARY UPGRADE In 2020, the Koto Group and Doug Wetton Properties refurbished the Grand View Apartments in the city of Paso Robles to provide better facilities to tenants.
SLOLAF, the Hutkin Law Firm, and trial attorney Jude Basile worked together on behalf of the former tenants.
In May 2019, SLOLAF and the Hutkin Law Firm represented 200 apartment residents who filed a lawsuit against Grand View owners Ebrahim and Fahimeh Madadi and property manager Nicole Davis for failing to take care of vermin and insect infestations along with other poor living conditions. Previous New Times reporting detailed that tenants often had to pay for the repairs themselves. The lawsuit also alleged that the owners and the property manager had a habit of failing and refusing to return security deposits even after their tenants moved out.
Though court orders instructed Grand View to fix these issues and not collect rent, a SLO County judge allowed the 55-unit property to be sold. It effectively caused tenants to get evicted and the building closed down in 2019.
"Through SLOLAF'S leadership, and with the assistance of the nonprofit community, including People's Self-Help Housing, Paso Robles Housing Authority, and Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo, most tenants were relocated to safer and improved housing," Barclay said.
Community members donated roughly $60,000 to help the tenants, she said. The Koto Group and Doug Wetton Properties from Santa Barbara and Southern California, respectively, bought the building in 2020. They refurbished the property and renamed it Vista Robles. The new owners said that some of the Grand View Apartments' former tenants even reached out to move back in.
The settlement won preliminary approval on Sept. 15. The $4 million sum will be distributed to former tenants depending on their length of stay at the complex from May 2015 through February 2020. Barclay said that though they represented 200 people before the settlement, she expects more to reach out now.
"Former tenants who had especially severe injuries or property loss sustained at Grand View may apply for enhanced compensation," she said.
Barclay said that funds would only be distributed after receiving final court approval on Dec. 15. Eligible tenants can submit a claim to receive their cut of the settlement. The legal team is currently working to alert as many former tenants as possible. Past residents can contact the Hutkin Law Firm at (805) 544-1500. The attorneys will help them fill out claim forms at Paso Robles Downtown City Park on Sept. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m.
"We hope this case sends a loud, clear message to other residential property owners that they need to provide clean, safe, habitable housing for their tenants," Barclay said. Δ