15 October 2009

KingCast announces a great day for Robert Taylor's Law and an appeal on the litigation Schulze v. 80 Middle Street on Breach of Contract.

This is a recent post on S 8013, set forth by Senator Bruce Tarr after I brought him the rough draft. He testified yesterday that this is a "matter of deep concern." The video I just ran from my MacBook so it's only 2 minutes and jumpy as all get-out but the Senate Judiciary Committee was impressed with the presentation by Robert Taylor's best friend Jim Dinsmore and me. Read about today in the comments, including a nice chat with Mass AG Martha Coakley and State Rep Renny Cushing.

Also, the Court re-wrote the law in granting Summary Judgment on the Breach of Contract claims of our Plaintiff, Shanna Schulze. My comment on that will appear in tomorrow's paper and it is basically thus:
Yes we plan an appeal on the breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims given the clear mandates from the high court's body of decisional law that you have repeatedly referenced in Times stories. We don't know how the court could have applied that law in a manner to find that the defendants were not liable in contract for providing an uninspected building to tenants.

I am here now to testify on S 8013 to make certain more innocent people are not harmed by unscrupulous landlords.

Joint statement from Ana Crnilovic, Esq. and Christopher King, JD.

Sent from my iPhone

5 comments:

Christopher King said...

This is the first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding a bill that I initiated in honor of Robert Taylor, a man who died a needless death in an illegal apartment in an under-inspected building. He had but one point of egress and to use it, he had to exit from his 3rd floor apartment through the 4th floor.

There was one helluva fire in December, 2007 and he didn't make it.

The sad part is, these landlords -- Gary Raso and Robert Gattineri/80 Middle Street Partners -- have a documented history of ignoring egress and other issues and you can see that at the town of Gloucester's website in an official, independent third party review of the tragedy.

Thanks to Senator Bruce Tarr (r) for redrafting my proposal and getting it set forth. He testified today, noting that the matter is one of "deep concern" for him, and stating that the cause of Mr. Taylor's death "was the result of a lot of defects that occurred."

I certainly agree with that assessment.

PS: While I was there I had the chance to chat with Martha Coakely, and thanked her for her continued and expanded commitment to capturing the missing Menino emails. She was there to promote S 1848 requiring commercial reasonable efforts to avoid foreclosure.

"Lenders are rarely re-negotiating loans, which flies in the face of common sense," she said. "The local lenders have been pretty good, but the national lenders have failed," she added, specifically citing Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citibank because "Each entity promised but gave us nothing in writing. Now we see that the promises are not being met."

Citibank doesn't surprise me. They gave us no reason in writing for refusing to cash a check held by a black man, and gave us no reason for threatening to arrest me when I told them about the law on wrongful dishonor of a check, and similarly gave me no reason as to why they would not open an account for me but would open one for my white girlfriend.

I also talked to State Rep Renny Cushing about that, and will be sharing my MCAD complaint with the both of them. See it at http://citibankisracist.blogspot.com

-c

Christopher said...

Having read the Court's rationale now I feel good about our chances on Appeal.

Here's why:

Where we will appeal is that the quality of Plaintiff's living environment was compromised in many ways, some of which were noted in the Official Report, including not being able to hear the alarm clearly.

The Court wrote:

*******
"There is evidence," he wrote, that the city had requested an inspection in December 2004 that was never done. "The defendants may have breached the implied warranty of habitability if they failed to obtain an inspection and certificate of compliance because such a failure would constitute a violation of the Building Code," the judge wrote.

But he also noted that "to obtain damages ... Schulze must show a causal connection between the breach and the harm. Schultze has not alleged any harm from the breach of the implied warranty; she has only alleged damages for property lost in the fire. She has not submitted any evidence to indicate that any code violation caused or contributed to the fire....

*******

We respectfully submit that the harm was living in such a building in and of itself -- which did not have two means of egress for all of the tenants. Here life was placed at risk, and for the Court to require her to die or be physically injured is a quantum of proof that we believe the Higher Court will not require, and we placed that evidence into the record.

To say that there is no case law on point we respectfully assert that is not true. The following is a section of Plaintiff's Memorandum for and in Defense Against, Summary Judgment:

Lindsey v. Massios, 372 Mass. 79, 83-84 (1977). Perry v. Medeiros, 369 Mass. 836, 841 (1976).
Coder v. Lauer, Gloucester District Court No. 87036 (October 27 1987)

FACTS, LAW AND ARGUMENT

The High Court of Massachusetts has determined that the conveyance of a lease carries certain promises, to wit:

"We now find in the rental of a dwelling unit . . . an implied agreement by the landlord that the rented unit complies with the minimum standards prescribed by building and sanitary codes and that he will do whatever those codes require for compliance during the term of the renting. Crowell v. McCaffrey, 377 Mass. 443, 451 (1979):

We also held that violation of a statute or building code provision related to safety was evidence of the landlord's negligence. Accord Lindsey v. Massios, 372 Mass. 79, 83-84 (1977). Perry v. Medeiros, 369 Mass. 836, 841 (1976)."

Similarly, the Gloucester District Court has held that a breach of these covenants results in tangible damages. In Coder v. Lauer, Gloucester District Court No. 87036 (October 27 1987) analysed the applicable Certificate of Occupancy requirements and found that the landlord was not compliant and determined that rental payments withheld by the Defendant could be retained. The Court found the tenancy agreement to be illegal and unenforceable. And while the Court stopped short of ordering the ultimate sanction of full forfeiture for all rents paid the matter of Damages shall be left to the Jury in the damages phase.

Christopher King said...

So it is an interesting case:

We showed the breach of duty and the court acknowledges it, even on the egress question alone that is huge negligence, which could be considered criminally reckless as in the Cocoanut Grove fire.

There is always the question of whether "negligence in the air" is compensible. Did Shanna have to die in order to get compensated for living in a dangerous building, we think not.

We will contend that in a landlord tenant situation, she need not be injured or die because of the negligence and that it is compensible in light of the affirmative duties owed under:

Lindsey v. Massios, 372 Mass. 79, 83-84 (1977). Perry v. Medeiros, 369 Mass. 836, 841 (1976).
Coder v. Lauer, Gloucester District Court No. 87036 (October 27 1987).

Christopher King said...

Lastly, I think it bears noting that the Defendants didn't even work with the victims to get their $750 relocation fees.

I had to do that.

Great guys.

Christopher King said...

To the jackass who says the Cocoanut Grove fire is not on point, read the case, fool, and the requested point of error on the Jury instruction was DENIED.

*****

Commonwealth v. Barnett Welansky (and a companion case against the same defendant)

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

316 Mass. 383; 55 N.E.2d 902; 1944 Mass. LEXIS 742

109. The refusal to give the following instruction requested by the defendant: "If the jury finds that the deceased . . . were unable to make their way to any door or window, or any exit, by reason of being overcome by fire, flame, heat, smoke or gases, it cannot be found that the defect, if any, of egresses was the proximate cause of the deaths."

February 7, 1944, Argued

June 5, 1944, Decided

DISPOSITION: Judgments affirmed.