Kansas City Court Awards Tenants $52 Million a “Reprehensible” Conditions
In one of the largest personal injury verdicts in Missouri, a Kansas City judge awarded plaintiffs $52 million in damages. In this lawsuit, the defendant was a notorious landlord in Kansas City who owned and managed over 24 low-income apartment complexes, including the Ruskin Place Apartments. A group of tenants who lived at the Ruskin Place Apartments brought the lawsuit after suffering from terrible living conditions.
Kansas City Tenants Brought a Lawsuit Against Their Landlord
During the trial, tenants of the Ruskin Place Apartments described horrifying living conditions that the apartment complex owner failed to address. Tenants gave testimony describing horrendous infestations and hazardous conditions. The dangerous living conditions included the following:
Lack of proper heat and air conditioning
Unsecured front doors
Overflowing trash bins
Exposed electrical wiring
Apartment ceilings that are in the process of collapse
The judge who oversaw the trial wrote a 23-page judgment stating that the “rental units were not fit for human habitation and had a market value of $0.00.” All of the tenants who had rented units in the Ruskin Place Apartments since July 2015 brought the lawsuit. In the end, the judge issued a considerable judgment against the owner of the apartment complex and the local management company in charge of everyday maintenance and management of the apartment complex.
The owners of the apartment complex were notorious for evicting tenants while at the same time collecting double their normal rent value. The company had filed 91 eviction actions in Jackson County. The property owner has a terrible record of non-compliance with local housing standards, with 591 pages of complaints that have been submitted to Missouri’s attorney general.
Class-Action Lawsuits Against Landlords Becoming More Common
While the payout, in this case, was significant, it is not the first time that Missouri Courts have ruled in favor of tenants. In 2018, two landlords lost their rental business licenses when they committed fraud on a large scale. They agreed to settle a class action against them, brought by tenants, for $18.5 million in assets. This class-action lawsuit involved 5,400 tenants. Before the landmark decision mentioned above, the largest personal injury case involving tenants happened in 2004 and involved a $1.1 million payout. That case involved landlord violations of the Fair Housing Act.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If your landlord has been subjecting you to terrible living conditions, you may be entitled to compensation under Missouri personal injury lawsuits. Landlords owe their tenants a duty to keep the rental properties reasonably safe. Contact Griggs Injury Law as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for your rights.