The former resident managers of an Agoura Hills mobile home park impacted by the Woolsey Fire have settled a lawsuit against their former employers, in which they alleged they were wrongfully fired in 2020 for complaining about both exposure to the coronavirus and abuses by tenants and members of the public.
Married couple Doug Olson and Linda Bell were 68 and 73 years old, respectively, when they brought the Los Angeles Superior Court suit last June 24 against Seminole Springs Mobilehome Park Inc., also alleging retaliation, breach of contract, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. They sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a notice of settlement on Friday with Judge Stephen I. Goorvitch. No terms were divulged.
Olson and Bell “devoted their lives and well-being to the community, throughout the devastation of the Woolsey fire and COVID,” according to the suit, which further stated that the plaintiffs provided security, management and maintenance services to the Mulholland Highway mobile home park’s residents and interacted with the public and frequent trespassers.
Many of the residents as well as some outsiders were abusive and harassed the couple, but management did nothing to make the couple feel safe and secure in their work environment, the suit alleged.
The 2018 Woolsey Fire burned 96,949 acres of land, destroyed 1,643 structures, killed three people and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 individuals in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. News reports from November 2019 stated that a year after the blaze, Seminole Springs residents had not yet been allowed to return to their homes.
Olson and Bell suffered from exposure to unhealthful conditions caused by the fire, the coronavirus and other workplace issues, leaving them disabled and in need of medical care, the suit stated.
Olson and Bell were fired in June 2020 without warning and removed from their longtime home in the park two months later during some of the worst days of the coronavirus and while they were both suffering illnesses, the suit stated.
“Plaintiffs were extremely distressed by this outrageous conduct,” the suit states.
Although management told the couple they were being terminated because some of their job duties had been eliminated, the work they did was taken over by a younger healthy employee who did not need job accommodations, the suit stated.
From the time they were hired until they were stripped of their jobs, park management told Olson and Bell that the mobile home park was a safe, good place to work, that they were considered valuable members of the community and that their devotion to the community during the Woolsey Fire would be honored, the suit stated.