Dying woman fights to stay in home

June 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 77-year-old woman is not just fighting cancer; she is fighting to stay in the place she has called home for nearly 25 years. The elderly East Bay cancer patient wants to be allowed to die in her home and her lawyers accuse Stanford University of supporting the effort to wrench her from her house. Her eviction trial begins Friday.

Widow Angie Cicero has Stage 4 breast cancer. She has no children and lives on a fixed income of $986 per month. All she wants now is to spend her final days in the Union City house she first started renting in the 1980s.

"I'm dying and I want to die in my own home; been there 25 years next month," Cicero said.

But in 2006 her landlord Hercules Fini died and willed the house to Stanford University. Now, the trustee of Fini's estate wants her evicted, saying she has not paid rent in three years and has refused offers of assistance in relocating, including $15,000.

"No one wants to be here, it's a terrible situation; but the trustee has done everything that she can," the trustee's attorney Gillian Ross said.

Cicero's lawyers say $15,000 would be eaten up in rent somewhere else in about a year and that her offers to continue paying the $835 monthly rent have been rejected.

They also say Stanford, while not the trustee, can influence whether or not Cicero is evicted.

The lawyers point to a letter from Stanford to Cicero that reads, "If there is no attempt to work out a resolution with the trustee, Stanford will not object to the trustee's taking all steps necessary to make the property productive, which will likely involve an eviction and sale of the property."

"Our position as stated is that Stanford University is behind this eviction, and if Stanford University wants to stop it, they can. That's clear from the letter I quoted. They don't object to it; that means if they did, they could," Cicero's attorney Brenda Adams said.

But Stanford insists it has no power, saying in a statement, "It is regrettable that a legal process is now required in order for the private individual responsible for Mr. Fini's estate to implement his wishes for his estate to benefit medical research."

"I just want to stay there and die. They don't need the money, I need help bad," Cicero said.

Stanford twice refused requests for an on-camera interview. ABC7 asked the trustee's attorney to clarify if the trust requires the house be sold, or if the title could simply be handed over to Stanford. She said she does not have the trust document and would have to check with the trustee, Fini's grand-niece.

UPDATE 6/18: Cicero struck a deal with the trustee to cover her living expenses for up to 10 years.


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