A lawsuit filed against the landlord who evicted Marie Hatch from her longtime Burlingame home settled with a $200,000 award to the son of the senior tenant whose displacement garnered international attention.
The deal reached in San Mateo County Superior Court comes nearly two years after Hatch received an eviction notice from her landlord David Kantz, to make way for redevelopment of his California Drive property. Hatch’s son Gary replaced his mother in the financial elder abuse case after she died at 97 in 2016.
Attorney Joe Cotchett, whose law firm represented the family, claimed the eviction violated a verbal agreement with the previous property owner and ultimately played a part in Marie Hatch’s death.
“In my opinion, the behavior certainly contributed to her death. They served an eviction notice to a 97-year-old,” he said. “How would you like to be 97 years old and be told that you have 30 to 60 days to leave?”
The lawsuit was closed Thursday, June 7, just weeks before trial was scheduled to start. Attorney Michael Liberty, who represented Kantz, declined to comment on the agreement.
Hatch had lived in her two-bedroom home near the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and California Drive for 66 years, and anticipated she would be able to stay there until she died, under the promise she claims was granted by her former landlord and friend.
Hatch and her fellow senior roommate Georgia Rothrock were issued eviction notices from Kantz, who inherited the home and later claimed it needed to be sold for redevelopment to satisfy terms of a trust agreement.
An application to rebuild the property has since been filed with the city, as plans aim to construct a 26-unit project spanning four stories at the site. Planning commissioners have reviewed the plans, but no decision has been made on the project.
Shortly following the eviction in 2015, Hatch’s story spread across the globe, as many pointed to the issue as a prime example of the struggle Bay Area renters face amidst the ongoing housing crisis.
The story gained so much notoriety that motivational speaker Tony Robbins intervened on behalf of Rothrock to help her find a room in a Belmont assisted living community.
Hatch’s attorney Nanci Nishimura addressed the larger implications of the eviction and ultimate settlement.
“The legacy of the Marie Hatch is to open the eyes of property owners and developers and others who are in the position to give something back to seniors, or to help make accommodations for them and not forget who they are,” she said. “Because they were the ones who were here early on to make it the wonderful community that it is today.”
Beyond the broader aim of the lawsuit, Nishimura added the outcome may offer some solace to Hatch’s heir.
“This means the Hatch family can move on. Marie Hatch’s survivor is Gary Hatch. He was devoted to his mother. He was her only son. He wanted to do the right thing for his mother’s memory,” she said.
Nishimura said the silver lining offered will never be able to make up for the difficulty Marie Hatch faced in her final days though.
“On the day she died, she still believed the appraisers and inspectors would be walking in the door. She was devastated by that thought. She just gave up, in my view. She died of a broken heart.”
Looking forward, Nishimura said she is hopeful the settlement saves other seniors and families from suffering a similar fate.
“In memory of Marie Hatch, and in thanks to Gary Hatch, I hope the message will be to the community — don’t forget our seniors,” she said.
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