Record jury verdict in San Francisco tenant case

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A jury has awarded Dale Duncan and Marta Mendoza $3.5 million plus attorney's fees.

"I would probably rather have my life back than any award," said Duncan.

For 2.5 years the couple says their landlords Anne Kihagi and Christina Mwangi, along with their company Zoriall LLC, harassed them and their then 6-year-old daughter while they lived in a Hill Street apartment in San Francisco's Mission District.

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"I can't go back in time and recover all the pain that we suffered there," said Mendoza.

The couple's attorney Steve McDonald says the landlords purchased approximately 10 buildings around 2013 with more than 50 rent controlled units with long-term tenants.

"They had a business plan with business tactics of intimidation, harassment and retaliation towards the rent controlled tenants," said McDonald.

The attorney says recently the city brought a case against the defendants as well.

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"They were awarded $2.7 million in government penalties," said McDonald.

A jury found the landlords practiced bogus evictions to increase rents that included the owner saying a family member was going to move in.

"The jury determined she never moved in and she never intended to move in," McDonald continued.

For all they've gained financially, the couple says what they miss most they can't get back.

"I miss my home that was my home," said Mendoza.

Duncan added, "Hopefully this will send a message to other landlords.

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