A South San Francisco residential hotel settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a mentally disabled tenant over a 18-month bedbug infestation the landlord allegedly failed to eradicate.
The terms of the settlement with the Industrial Hotel are confidential but the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, which partnered with attorneys from the Menlo Park firm of Alston and Bird, said it is satisfied the tenants will “have a safe and habitable place to live going forward.”
The Industrial Hotel at 505 Cypress Ave. in South San Francisco houses tenants with mental health disabilities. A representative of the hotel or its parent company could not be reached for comment.
The bedbug infestation was among a number of substandard housing conditions like mold and water leaks that made some of the units uninhabitable, according to David Carducci, director of litigation for the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.
Carducci said the plaintiff, Federico Assogna, had been “very vocal” about the conditions and complained to the owners and managers on behalf of himself and other tenants. The repeated bites every night are terrible for anyone but people with mental health issues find it even harder because it exacerbates anxiety, depression and sleep loss, Carducci said.
His client once jumped out of bed because of a bite, lost his balance and struck his ribs on the frame which resulted in his hospitalization with a breathing device, Carducci said.
The hotel owner did hire a pest control company early on but the provider was inexperienced with bedbugs and the situation was not fixed, he said.
“He went on the cheap for a year and a half and let the tenants suffer,” he said.
After receiving an eviction notice which the hotel claimed was to claim back four units for another service provider, Assogna turned to the Legal Aid Society which filed the suit in May 2012 in San Francisco Superior Court cited both the infestation and retaliation based on the attempted ousting after his complaints.
A second case was filed by an Oakland attorney on behalf of nine other residents.
M. Stacey Hawver, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, praised the resolution.
“Individuals with mental health disabilities often have difficulty exercising their legal rights, and today, the tenants in the Industrial Hotel had a strong voice and were heard,” Hawver said in a prepared statement.
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