San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera won a sanction Tuesday that would make CitiApartments and its affiliates pay the city $50,129.
This is the amount it is costing the city to make the conglomerate respond to a request for evidence in a civil lawsuit during the discovery process.
Citi Apartments is one of the largest residential landlord in the city, owning an estimated 200 buildings with 6,000 units in the city. Of those, an estimated 25 buildings are in the Mission District and surroundings, according to court documents obtained by Mission Loc@l.
“In this Court’s opinion, plaintiffs’ discovery requests have been repeatedly met with obfuscation, delay and meritless objections,” said Judge John Munters.
Sanctions are unusual for such high-profile cases, said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for Herrera. CitiApartments has until Feb. 19 to comply.
“It sends a message for the defendant that the court’s patience has been reached,” Dorsey said. “We hope this represents a tipping point so we can move this case.”
Herrera first sued CitiApartments in 2006 for illegally recovering units, intimidating tenants to surrender their rent-controlled units and remodeling without permits and inspections.
The city is seeking damages for $1,000 per unit for every day there was a violation and an injunction against CitiApartments that prevents them from engaging in similar practices.
In the three years the case has been in court, CitiApartments has been playing “shell games,” that have made Herrera amend the complaint to reflect all city’s affiliates and individual alter egos, a statement said by Herrera.
The newest name for CitiApartments is now First Apartments, according to Lucia Kimble of St. Peter’s Housing Committee, who is currently defending a tenant against the same landlord.
Currently the lawsuit has named 37 defendants, all of which are CitiApartments in different guises. Now that the motion for discovery, an early step in the lawsuits process, was granted, CitiApartments and all its entities will have to hand over documents relevant to the case.
Getting evidence is key because the case is very fact-intensive, Dorsey said.
This is one of several lawsuits against CitiApartments. Another one is a class action lawsuit of tenants who charge that their deposits were kept.