Residents of a North Long Beach mobile home park were collectively awarded $34.1 million in punitive damages Tuesday, bringing their total recovery to about $40 million in a lawsuit alleging the owners did little after they complained of squalid conditions.
The same Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded the 31 families more than $5.5 million in compensatory damages on Nov. 19. Their allegations against Friendly Village included negligence, elder abuse, nuisance and breach of the warranty of habitability, plaintiff’s attorney Brian Kabateck said.
Friendly Village lawyer Philip Woog could not be immediately reached for comment.
The awards stemmed from the first in a series of trials involving lawsuits brought by residents of the 182-unit RV park, located south of Davenport Park on Paramount Boulevard.
Kabateck said the verdicts should teach Friendly Village’s owners ” a valuable lesson.” He described the landlords as “incredibly wealthy people who should know better,” and said he is unsure if the park can ever be made habitable.
Milldred Bejarano, a 68-year-old retired Long Beach Unified employee who has lived at Friendly Village for 12 years, said the land keeps sinking because the park sits atop a former landfill. She said there are large rats roaming the park.
“I’m going to get sick if I don’t get out of there,” Bejarano told reporters at a news conference outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse.
Another resident, Linda Colvin, said she “almost had a nervous breakdown” dealing with the vermin infestation. She said she plans to leave the park after living there for five years.
“I do feel that justice has been made today,” Colvin said.