LOS ANGELES – Former City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and his family have settled a lawsuit they filed against a noted all-girls school in Hancock Park in which they alleged they were leased a home in 2013 that was rat-infested and contaminated by mold, causing health problems for the entire family.
In the wake of the accord, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin dismissed the case “with prejudice” on Nov. 16, meaning it cannot be refiled. No terms were divulged.
Delgadillo, his wife, and two minor sons brought the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit on Feb. 4 against Marlborough School as well as property management company JRealty, alleging breach of a written lease agreement and the implied warranty of habitability, nuisance, negligence, and constructive eviction.
“Marlborough leased the Delgadillo’s an untenantable, uninhabitable, and a 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 alleged.
In their court papers, attorneys for Marlborough School and JRealty denied any wrongdoing or liability on the part of their clients.
According to the suit, 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 family 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 stated.
Delgadillo, now 62, and his wife, Michelle, have been married more than 20 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 alleged.
The toxic mold affected the health of each of the Delgadillo’s, the suit stated. 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 stated.
Dozens of rats were killed by traps or by the Delgadillo’s dogs, requiring the family members to handle and dispose of the rodents, the suit stated.
“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 stated.
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 stated.
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 stated.
However, the habitability problems worsened and the Delgadillos believed the settlement agreement became void, the suit stated. 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.