A California jury has found real estate investment trust Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. guilty of breach of contract, negligence and nuisance for failing to maintain one of its mobile home developments and awarded a total of more than $110 million to 61 residents of the property. The jury’s verdict consisted of a $15.3 million verdict in compensatory damages and $95.8 million in punitive damages. Equity Lifestyle, the Chicago-based real estate investment trust, was found to have improperly maintained sewage, electrical and water systems at the California Hawaiian mobile home property in San Jose, Calif.
The verdict came nearly five years after a group of residents filed suit in late April 2009. In their second amended complaint, filed in April 2012, the residents alleged negligence, nuisance and breach of contract against Equity Lifestyle. The Plaintiffs contended that the mobile home park owner had ignored Plaintiffs’ notifications of open sewage spills near the Plaintiffs’ homes, an “unbearable stench” throughout the park, discolored water and inadequate lighting and security for the grounds.
The compensatory damages were awarded per site, covering rent paid and emotional distress, ranging from $75,000 to $1.4 million per site, and the punitive damages were evenly awarded at $1.57 million for each of the 61 Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs were represented by Henry E. Heater, James C. Allen and Linda B. Reich of Endeman Lincoln Turek & Heater LLP. They did a very good job in the case which was tried in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara.
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