By BILL HETHERMAN
LOS ANGELES – Former City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and his family are suing a noted all-girls school in Hancock Park for allegedly leasing them a home in 2013 that was rat-infested and contaminated by mold, causing health problems for the entire family.
Delgadillo, his wife and two minor sons brought the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Marlborough School as well as property management company JRealty, alleging breach of a written lease agreement and the implied warranty of habiltability, nuisance, negligence and constructive eviction. The Delgadillos seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Friday.
“Marlborough leased the Delgadillos an untenantable, uninhabitable and substandard house infested with rats, contaminated with toxic mold and inundated with rat urine and feces for more than five years, collecting $10,500 in monthly rent from them while repeatedly failing to properly and permanently abate these unsanitary, unhealthy and hazardous conditions…” the suit alleges.
Representatives for Marlborough School and JRealty did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In 2013, the Delgadillos’ family home was severely damaged by fire, which eventually led them to lease the Rossmore House, one of several of residential properties adjacent to Marlborough’s campus that the school owns and leases to third parties, the suit states.
They intended to stay there for at least eight years and spent substantial sums decorating and furnishing the house to make it their home for the foreseeable future, the suit states.
Delgadillo, now 61, and his wife, Michelle, have been married 22 years and their sons were ages 10 and 13 when they moved into the Rossmore House, according to the suit.
During the Delgadillos’ tenancy, the water pipes leaked and the basement flooded, creating constant dampness and causing toxic black mold to spread through the house’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the suit alleges.
The toxic mold affected the health of each of the Delgadillos, the suit states. Rocky Delgadillo became susceptible to a virus that caused him vertigo and permanent damage to his health; the sons suffered respiratory issues, requiring prescription medications and causing them to miss an undue amount of school; and Michelle Delgadillo required respiration tests, the suit states.
Dozens of rats were killed by traps or by the Delgadillos’ dogs, requiring the Delgadillos to handle and dispose of the rodents, the suit states.
“Besides observing the rodents directly, the Delgadillos observed evidence of the infestations in the form of gnawed, partially eaten foodstuffs,” according to the suit, which includes color photos of dead rats in the family’s dog food and in one of the home’s toilets.
“On another occasion, the Delgadillos’ sons woke up to the crashing sound of a light fixture in their bathroom that had fallen because the wires had been chewed through by rats,” the suit states.
Michelle Delgadillo spent hundreds of hours on the phone with JRealty, but the company failed to take all the necessary appropriate steps to correct the issues, the suit states.
The two sides entered a settlement agreement in February 2016 for rent abatement for part of that year and Marlborough’s lawyer told them that the rats had been eradicated and the other problems properly repaired, the suit states.
However, the habitability problems worsened and the Delgadillos believe the settlement agreement is now void, the suit states. The Delgadillos moved out in October 2019 and stayed temporarily in a hotel, having never received their $15,000 security deposit from Marlborough, according to the suit.
Delgadillo served as city attorney from July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2009.