The owners of a Mission building where a January fire killed one and displaced scores of tenants was served with a long-anticipated lawsuit Tuesday, as former residents of the structure claim that the landlords are guilty of negligence, breaking of lease agreements, and more.
It's likely that you recall the January 28th fire in a large building at 22nd and Mission Streets. The massive blaze killed Mauricio Orellana, injured six others, and left somewhere between 50-60 residents and about a dozen businesses (including Wise Sons' bagel operation) in the cold.
What's left of the the 108-year-old building is "home to little more than graffiti, odors, and a rat infestation," my colleague Caleb Pershan noted earlier this month, but now it's ground zero for a lawsuit from 48 tenants who occupied 15 units in the building, Mission Local reports.
Named in Tuesday's suit are building owner Hawk Lou and his wife Ketty Fong Lou, who together own 19 properties with an assessed total value of $15.3 million. According to an earlier report, they're looking to increase their dollar worth substantially by selling the ruined Mission property (or, more precisely, the land on which the ruins remain) for $20 million.
According to the plaintiffs, the Lous "failed to maintain the building and allowed poorly maintained wiring to persist, leading to the electrical fault that a fire department inspection indicates may have caused the blaze," Mission Local reports.
"Tenants also contend that the landlord failed to keep fire safety equipment in working condition, resulting in nonfunctioning or nonexistent smoke detectors and fire alarms."
In the suit, the tenants say they seek compensation for medical bills and loss of income and earning ability. They also argue that the building was not kept in habitable condition, and are seeking general, special and punitive damages, as well as "disgorgement of rents they paid during their tenancy." As some of the tenants have lived in the building for decades, we could be talking some big payouts, should they prevail!