June 21, 2006
CONTACT:   Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney
                   Head, Consumer Protection Unit
                   (310) 458-8327

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office has settled a lawsuit that it brought against three men for allegedly trying to frighten a female tenant into vacating her rent-controlled apartment.  

The city’s Consumer Protection Unit filed the lawsuit in April 2004 against Marshall Robert Burnett, Dan Kolodziejski, and L.T. Belton. The suit claimed that the men acquired the four-unit apartment building at 2710 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, in January 2004. The only apartment that was occupied at the time was by a tenant who is disabled and pays $422 per month under Rent Control. The men were accused of conspiring to frighten her into vacating her apartment in order to increase the property value of the building. 

The tenant also retained a private attorney, Gary Rhoades of Los Angeles, and brought a private lawsuit against Burnett and Kolodziejski. The two cases were consolidated for trial in the Santa Moncia Superior Court. 

The lawsuits alleged that Burnett and Kolodziejski installed Belton as the "manager" in the apartment next door to the woman’s, for the sole purpose of frightening and intimidating her into leaving. Belton's alleged actions included:

  • regularly pounding on the tenant's walls and slamming doors late at night

  • breaking into her private locked storage area

  • calling the woman profane and insulting names

  • threatening to burn down the building while the woman was inside

  • flooding her kitchen floor with a hose from outside

  • regularly standing outside her door or window for long periods of time

Defendants Burnett and Kolodziejski are both licensed realtors.  In defending the lawsuit, they denied any wrongdoing.

The two lawsuits were settled at the same time after a mediation before Judge Patricia Collins of the Santa Monica Superior Court.

Under the terms of the settlement, which recently became final:

1. The defendants paid the tenant $45,000.00;
2. The defendants paid the city $15,000.00 in attorneys’ fees;
3. Burnett and Kolodziejski will each attend an eight-hour training program in apartment management approved by the city.

The city had filed the original lawsuit in Santa Monica Superior Court. It was brought under the local Tenant Harassment Ordinance, S.M.M.C. ch. 4.56.

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