Another Victory For The Housing and Consumer Law Clinic
Friday, May 22, 2015
Posted by: Jordan Uhl
From Left: Ramsey Alnaif, Randle Wilson and Caitlin Russi.
It’s been a big week for the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law’s (UDC-DCSL) Housing & Consumer Law Clinic.
Earlier this week it won its case against a major insurance company, where the court found the Clinic’s client not negligent at all. Now, just days later, it secured a long-overdue settlement for another client.
The case began in the spring of 2007, when the Clinic agreed to represent a tenant who had been pushed to the breaking point because of the numerous housing code violations existing in his apartment—violations that were never addressed by his housing provider. Despite constant and repeated messages left at the telephone number the housing provider had provided to the tenants to request repairs, they were ignored. The housing provider finally repaired the apartment, but only after being officially cited by government inspectors.
In 2010, an administrative law judge awarded the Clinic’s client damages totaling just under $8,000, which he then tripled because he found that the housing provider had acted with deliberate indifference.
Step back to 2008 when the Clinic agreed to represent about half the tenants in the same building, including its original client, because the housing provider arbitrarily stopped paying for electricity and advised the tenants to set up individual accounts with PEPCO before their service was cutoff. The Clinic negotiated settlements for most of the tenants; however, the housing provider refused to settle with the original tenant because the housing provider had appealed the original 2010 decision, particularly the part about deliberate indifference.
In August 2014, the DC Court of Appeals upheld the entire 2010 award. With no other options, the housing provider at last agreed to negotiate a settlement. In October, the Clinic’s client received $26,000 in a settlement of the 2010 decision. The amount included $2,000 in interest, which the housing provider could have avoided if he had only agreed to settle sooner.
This week, pursuant to a second and final settlement agreement, the housing provider paid an additional $11,000 to the Clinic’s client to settle the issues regarding the electricity. It may have taken eight years, but the client finally received everything he was due, nearly $37,000.
In addition, the housing provider will be paying $24,000 to the Clinic representing attorneys’ fees awarded by the Office of Administrative Hearings and the Rental Housing Commission. These funds will support the UDC-DCSL clinical program so that it can continue to provide high-quality legal representation for the neediest residents of the District of Columbia.
Numerous students worked on these cases throughout the years, but credit for negotiating this favorable settlement for the Clinic’s client goes to Randle Wilson ’15, Alfredo Luxardo, ’15, Caitlin Russi, ’15, Nina Naval, ’15, Ramsey Alnaif, ’16, and Victoria Alnaif, ’16, along with supervising attorney Sarah Bardos, ’12.