Homeowners sue PHA over rodent problems caused by derelict adjacent property

Jon Campisi Sep. 2, 2011, 10:46am

Two Philadelphia residents who claim they cannot obtain homeowners insurance for their property due to the rundown condition of an adjacent Philadelphia Housing Authority-owned parcel are suing the city agency in state court.

Philadelphia lawyer Daniel Sansoni filed the civil complaint Aug. 31 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Anton Talley and Tonya Gardner, who live at a home on the 2400 block of North 3rd Street.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs had to deal with constant problems such as rodents and debris at homes adjacent to theirs that are owned by the housing authority. The problems date back a decade.

Although the plaintiffs purchased their home in April 2007, they have lived at the property for 10 years, and have been dealing with the problems at the adjacent properties for that same timeframe, the lawsuit claims.

Among other problems, the plaintiffs have had to deal with holes in their house due to the infestation of rats and mice in the adjacent homes, the suit states. They have also been unable to host parties and get-togethers because of the troubles at the PHA properties.

“Throughout at least the past ten years, the plaintiffs became ill and sickened due to the various exposures of the defendant, PHA,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs had complained to the City of Philadelphia numerous times, and that the city had “repeatedly” cited the PHA for various failures to maintain the properties in question.

On July 16 of this year, the suit states, the PHA finally destroyed the nuisance homes, but the agency failed to clean up the demolished houses, “which constitutes further nuisance and inability to join plaintiff’s property.”

Furthermore, the complaint states that the demolition work done to the PHA-owned homes caused extensive damage to the plaintiff’s home, including broken windows and debris inside the house.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs have had to spend vast sums of money to clean and maintain their property due to the damages done by the PHA.

The lawsuit contains counts of strict liability, negligence, and nuisance.

There is also a claim of punitive damages, since the plaintiffs contend that the actions of the PHA were willful, wanton and reckless.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs were unable to obtain a home insurance policy for their property because no insurance carrier wanted to issue a policy due to the neighboring PHA homes.

For each of the counts listed in the suit, the plaintiffs demand judgment against the defendant in a sum not in excess of $50,000.

An arbitration hearing has been scheduled for early May 2012.

The case number is 110804370.

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