Jury awards $5.5M to North Long Beach mobile home residents who lived in ‘squalor’

A jury has awarded more than $5.5 million to 31 residents of a North Long Beach mobile home park rife with problems including sinkholes, sewage backups and rats.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said Monday that jurors also found the owners of Friendly Village liable for elder abuse. The amount of punitive damages in that phase of the civil trial will be argued in court next week.

Lead attorney Brian Kabateck says the residents, many elderly, lived in squalor at the property that was once a trash dump for the city of Long Beach.

Milly Bejarano stands in the back of her home with an exposed fire hydrant pipe as residents of Friendly Village mobile home park live on land that was once an industrial dump site. The land beneath the entire neighborhood and the homes are constantly sinking and shifting, causing sewage backups, electrical problems and structural damage to their property in North Long Beach August 23, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

“The jury found, as we did, that the defendants clearly took advantage of some of the most vulnerable members of the community,” said Kabateck. “These are people on a fixed income, the elderly, the disabled and folks on the brink of poverty. This company allowed the residents to live in squalor with raw sewage backing up into their homes while they raised rents and collected millions upon millions of dollars in profits. While these crooks should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior, they will surely feel nothing of the sort.”

The owners of Friendly Village failed to make repairs or ignored notices about health hazards while raising rents by hundreds of dollars, residents told the Long Beach Post.

The lawsuit said the land is constantly shifting, causing electrical problems and structural damage to units.

Sometimes explosive levels of methane will seep from the ground as garbage under the surface slowly decomposes, according to investigative reports from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

In October, the company that owns the park, Friendly Village MHP Associates, filed for bankruptcy, but a judge ruled the civil trial could still proceed.

After being sued for neglect, owner of North Long Beach mobile home park files for bankruptcy

Friendly Village MHP is owned by a parent company, Kort & Scott Financial Group, that owns dozens of mobile home parks across the state.

A woman who answered the phone at Friendly Village on Monday said she couldn’t comment on the suit.

Attorneys representing Friendly Village’s owners previously did not return messages from the Long Beach Post.

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