Lawsuit filed to stop eviction of 97-year-old Burlingame woman

February 26, 2016
San Francisco Chronicle

Lawyers for a 97-year-old woman threatened with eviction from her Burlingame home of 66 years filed a lawsuit Friday on her behalf, contending she was promised lifetime tenancy in the residence by a succession of landlords, and that the unwritten agreement should be honored.

The suit filed for Marie Hatch in San Mateo County Superior Court contends breach of contract, elder abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“I’m glad if something is being done,” said Hatch, who was at home Friday morning with a severe cold.

Hatch was given a 60-day order earlier this month to vacate the cottage she has lived in for more than six-and-a-half decades. She and several others have said that the landlord in 1950, Vivian Kruse, told her she could live in the house for life — as did Kruse’s daughter and granddaughter.

The problem came in 2006 when the granddaughter was killed by a boyfriend. Her estranged husband, David Kantz, took over the property and contends that his wife’s trust mandates that the house be sold before the end of the year, and the proceeds turned over to their two sons.

Kantz told The Chronicle he “felt bad” about having to evict Hatch, and said he has been working on ways for the property sale to be settled so that Hatch either stays put or can peacefully move somewhere else.

He told The Chronicle a week ago that he knew of the agreement Hatch had with his wife and her relatives, but that such a promise was not in her will and so it was not enforceable.

He and his lawyer did not immediately respond to calls Friday.

Hatch and her friend and roommate of 32 years, 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock, have said they have nowhere to go if they are evicted. They live on Social Security, and much of their income goes to the $900 monthly rent. Kantz said he can sell the house, which was paid off long ago, for more than $1 million.

The lawfirm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy filed the suit, and lawyer Nancy Fineman called the eviction order “despicable.”

“This is one of the most outrageous acts of greed against the elderly that I’ve seen in my almost 30 years of being a lawyer,” said Fineman. “Oral contracts are just as enforceable as a written contract.”

Rothrock said the eviction notice she and Hatch received “was a shock to say the least.”

“We’re trying to take it one day at a time,” Rothrock said at Fineman’s office as the lawsuit was filed. “We had 60 days and I thought, ‘Well, something will work out.’”

In the week since The Chronicle broke the story of Hatch’s dilemma, hundreds of emails have poured into the newspaper from around the world offering support for Hatch. Dozens of people from many states including Ohio and Kentucky, and from as far away as New Zealand, offered to have her come live with them, as did people from all over California.

Others offered to buy the house and let her live in it, and some have been trying to work out amicable deals with the landlord so that both parties can come away satisfied... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)