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Victory in Class Action Lawsuit Against Meridian Management

Meridian Management, a major San Francisco residential property management company, used an illegal bedbug addendum in their leases that held tenants financially responsible for controlling and responding to a bed bug infestations, forced the tenant to indemnify the landlord for personal injury and property damage due to bedbugs, and forced the tenant to agree in advance that there was no reduction in services (rent rebate) if their unit became infested. Meridian used this lease addendum in buildings with known or existing bedbug problems and tried to bind new tenants to these illegal rules. As a result of the efforts of Class Counsel Aaron H. Darsky and Eric L. Lifschitz, those lease provisions were stricken from existing leases and apartment rules and Meridian tenants that suffered bedbug infestations could collect $1,100 for reduction in housing services and up to $350 for property damage.

The Law Offices of Eric L. Lifschitz Successfully Defeats Meritless Anti-SLAPP Appeal and California Supreme Court Petition for Review

The Law Offices of Eric Lifschitz has been vigorously litigating Moriarty v. Laramar for two years solely on the issue of whether Plaintiff John Moriarty’s complaint should be stricken pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute. On May 21, 2012, Plaintiff John Moriarty filed suit against Laramar Management Corporation and 2363 Van Ness Avenue, LLC, alleging that Defendant’s failure to repair water intrusion and biological contamination forced him to give up his rent-controlled home of 20 years. On September 25, 2012, Defendant Laramar Management Corporation (“Laramar”) filed a special motion to strike Plaintiff’s Complaint as Defendant and its counsel asserted that the Complaint was based on protected activity.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Quidachay stated at the hearing on the motion: “The Court concludes that the Moving Parties failed to carry its burden to show that the Plaintiff’s Complaint arises out of protected activity. We went through this Complaint in detail, trying to see how this might be protected activity. And the drafter—our conclusion was that – and when I say our research attorney – counsel and myself, and then I went through it in detail and concurred. The drafters of the Complaint did an excellent job in making sure that this basically is an action that arises – that arises out of alleged breach of warranty of habitability. And I couldn’t find anything else in the complaint.” Defendant appealed the Superior Court’s denial of the motion to strike, using a portion of the SLAPP statute that permits this type of motion to be appealed before the conclusion of the case. After more than a year, a Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion, concluding, as the Superior Court did, that Plaintiff’s lawsuit is not based on protected activity. Moriarty v. Laramar Management Corporation, et al., 224 Cal.App.4th 125. The first paragraph of the published opinion sums it up nicely: “Another appeal that, assuming it has no merit, will result in an inordinate delay of the plaintiff’s case and cause him to incur more unnecessary attorney fees. (See Grewal v. Jammu (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 977, 1002-1003.) And no merit it has.” Moriarty, 224 Cal.App.4th at 125. The opinion details the fallacious arguments and questionable tactics used by Laramar, a massive property management company represented by one of California’s largest law firms, against a small tenant firm and its displaced tenant- client. The decision is a scathing rebuke of the misuse of the anti SLAPP statute. During the appellate oral argument, Laramar’s counsel and appellate specialist, Michael K. Johnson of Lewis, Brisbois, Brigaard & Smith, LLP, was admonished by the three judge panel that the appeal was “borderline frivolous.” Click here to listen to amusing audio of the oral argument.

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