BURLINGAME, Calif. – Attorneys for a 97-year-old woman being booted from her Northern California home filed suit Friday to enforce a long-ago promise by the landlord that the woman could live there until she died.
The complaint filed in San Mateo County states that Marie Hatch moved into her Burlingame cottage more than 60 years ago at the request of her friend Vivian Kroeze, who owned the property and needed companionship after her husband died.
Hatch was promised a lifetime tenancy, and the promise was honored by Kroeze's daughter and granddaughter after Vivian Kroeze died in 1980.
But in 2006, the granddaughter was murdered by her boyfriend and her estranged husband, David Kantz, took over collecting rent.
This month, his attorney told Hatch and her 85-year-old roommate to vacate within 60 days.
Kantz previously told the San Francisco Chronicle that he felt terrible about evicting the women but had no choice given that the agreement is not in writing and he has to provide for his sons.
The newspaper's story prompted calls and emails from hundreds of people offering help. One call came from a Joe Cotchett, a high-profile civil attorney whose firm is representing Hatch free of charge.
"This is one of the most egregious acts of taking advantage of one of our community's most vulnerable citizens that I have seen in my legal career," said Nancy Fineman, one of Hatch's lawyers.
The complaint claims elder abuse as well as breach of contract.
Kantz's attorney, Michael Liberty, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Burlingame is a wealthy enclave about a half hour drive south from downtown San Francisco.