Category Archives: Victory!

Victory! Lorig drops lawsuit, pays $22,000 to fired worker

After thirteen months of aggressive actions, we have finally won our fight against developer Lorig Associates. The have granted our “final offer” demands, dropping their lawsuit against us and paying fired secretary Patricia $22,000 in back-pay compensation (though they won’t call it that).

This fight has been longer and harder than any of us ever imagined it would be. The company brought in a major nationwide union-busting law firm to try and crush us with lawsuits against both our organization and three individual brothers and sisters: Emily, Andrew, and Patricia. They tried to get an injunction banning us from picketing, on pain of arrest. They promised they would never give in to our demands.

Still we stood our ground and managed to keep up a never-ending series of aggressive actions against the company. We repeatedly picketed many of Lorig’s for-rent and for-sale properties. We continually posted “Don’t Rent Here” flyers. We brought our message to Lorig-sponsored “open house” events, industry events, and even charity events. We picketed and addressed three different city councils who were considering hiring Lorig for city developments. We contacted the owner’s neighbors. We brought Lorig’s troubles to the attention of their financial backers at Bank of America. The cost to Lorig in lost business, reputation, and legal expenses has been huge. Now finally, after a full year of pressure, they’ve had enough.

The strength to stick it out and win came from the unwavering solidarity of a ton of SeaSol members, supporters, and allies. When Lorig started suing people, no one ducked for cover – instead, more people stepped up. To everyone who participated in the Lorig fight: THANK YOU! This is your victory.

Thanks also to the lawyers Brendan Donckers and Keith Scully of Gendler & Mann LLP, as well as to Dmitri Iglitzen and Jennifer Robbins of, who took a stand for freedom of speech by defending us for free when Lorig tried to shut us down with a lawsuit.

For more background, check out our past articles and updates from this fight:

Victory! Direct action stops predatory lawsuit dead in its tracks

Alejandro moved in to one of Victor Venavides’ “Delridge Cottages” in West Seattle last year with his cousin. The place was rundown, had rats, and Venavides repeatedly ignored several requests for repairs, including a shower that went unfixed and unusable for 25 days and a stove Alejandro had pay to have repaired himself. When Alejandro’s cousin decided to move out, Venavides told Alejandro that he was expected to pay an additional $500 security deposit. Alejandro said he didn’t understand why he had to pay it, given the fact that his cousin had still never had his deposit returned and the place had not been cleaned- but Venavides insisted. At the same time Alejandro was having to scrape together money to pay the additional deposit in increments as well as his monthly rent, Venavides started upping the rent. In less than a year Alejandro’s rent increased over $200 per month.

Weary of Venavides’ bullying, Alejandro finally moved out at the end of November 2009, thinking he’d never have to hear from Venavides again. What Alejandro didn’t know at that time was that it is actually only after his tenants move out that Venavides really goes after them. Venavides quickly filed a lawsuit seeking several thousand dollars in damages from Alejandro. Alejandro had no money for a lawyer and did not speak enough English to understand what the lawsuit was all about. It was at this point that, with the help of some friends, Alejandro got in touch with SeaSol. As it turned out, Venavides was falsely claiming that Alejandro had had nine people living with him.

It quickly became apparent after a little digging that this sort of bogus lawsuit was not at all uncommon for Venavides’ former tenants. Venavides’ plan, as he has done to many others, was to use his knowledge of the court system, and Alejandro’s lack of resources and legal expertise, to win a default judgment and begin garnishing Alejandro’s wages. This would add a small extra profit to Victor’s shady business operation as a landlord while causing serious and unjust hardship to Alejandro.

So, on June 15th nearly 30 SeaSolers showed up at Venavides’ door with a simple message: drop this lawsuit immediately or face of the consequences. In the following weeks we put up posters warning people about Venavides around his properties, conducted a door-to-door tenants investigation, and left letters on every car outside his workplace saying we would be coming soon with important information about a slumlord in their midst. After five weeks of relentless pressure Venavides finally realized he had better let this one go, and Alejandro received a letter announcing that the lawsuit had been withdrawn, “with prejudice”.

Victory in Nelson fight–Time to celebrate!

The fight against Nelson Properties is now over! For the past five weeks we have postered every week around Nelson’s properties warning potential renters about the company. We also began a tenants’ rights investigation at their buildings, delivered letters to the owner’s neighbors informing them that there was a slumlord in their midst, and held two small pickets in front of Nelson’s offices to warn potential tenants not to do business with them.

Last Thursday we found out that property management boss Lisza Darling’s reign of terror is over–she is no longer an employee of Nelson Properties. Then this Monday, June 21, Maria received her $500 deposit plus a letter agreeing that all issues from her tenancy (i.e. bogus bills) are now settled!

Let’s celebrate–come to High Point Park at 6 pm this Sunday (6/27/2010) for a victory potluck!

Tenant action beats money-grubbing banker

Megan and Alan’s old landlord wouldn’t return their $1300 deposit. A small claims court judge ordered the landlord to return the money, but she–a Wells Fargo loan officer and the owner of five properties–still refused to give it back. Megan and Alan, both low income workers, couldn’t afford to let her steal it. They joined SeaSol and prepared to fight for their money back.

On Monday April 5, Megan, Alan, and a small crowd of others marched into the lobby of the landlord’s office at Wells Fargo Home Loans. The receptionist called the landlord, saying “There’s a lot of people here to see you!”. When she came out, Megan and Alan presented their written demand: all the money they were owed, within a week. The landlord took it, then scurried out of the office, exclaiming, “This is my place of business!”

A week went by and no check arrived, so we started preparing for further action against the landlord. Then, just before our next action, she sent her former tenants a text message: the check was in the mail. A couple days later, the check arrived in their mailbox, and it cleared.

Thanks to everyone who helped Megan and Alan win this fight.

Victory! Solidarity stops slumlord retaliation

Here is the story of our latest fight, in John’s words:

How I faced down a vindictive landlord
by John Vogt

Loren Ruud was my landlord. The apartment had bedbugs in it. I tried to get rid of them, I bombed it three times, but I couldn’t get rid of them. It was an old apartment. The place wasn’t up to code.

It was terrible. I had to call a crisis hotline. I also had to call the housing authority, because the apartment had bedbugs, it had an unsecured door, and it had dry rot in the kitchen. And as soon as Ruud found out that I had called the city, he came up to my place on Thanksgiving with no notice, and threatened to evict me. He put a ten-day notice on my door.

The housing inspectors rescinded the ten-day notice, since Ruud was trying to retaliate against me. They decided that I should vacate by December 20th and the landlord should pay me $1,000. I vacated December 17th. I left the place clean and tidy.

Then Ruud decided to come after me for $1800 in “damages to the apartment”.

I called my friend Nohl, and he told me what he knew about Seattle Solidarity. He had gotten one of their flyers at the Martin Luther King Jr day march. I called Seasol, left a long message, and sent an email, and then I met with Kaleen, Lee and Ryan at Bedlam Coffee.

We delivered a demand letter to Ruud, saying: rescind the charges of $1800, don’t send it to collections, and “leave John alone.” We waited two weeks, and there was no response to the letter. Then we decided to poster the place. The posters said “Beware: do not rent from 9632 Aurora Ave N – environmental sickness, bedbugs, dry rot…”

The strategy was to let the people in the area know about the conditions in those apartments, and that the landlord steals deposits and rents out substandard housing.

On a Thursday, one week after postering in Loren Ruud’s neighborhood, where he lives, he called me and said “please stop what you’re doing. If you and Seattle Solidarity stop your actions against me, I will not send the $1800 to collections.” And we agreed. And that was it.

The corporations don’t want to pay out anything to workers, and the landlords don’t want to pay to maintain apartments, so they’re trying to pass all the costs onto their tenants. There’s a great need for Seattle Solidarity. In me, they now have a good volunteer.

About the author: I live in White Center, WA. I’m originally from Chicago. When I can, I drive trucks for a living and work in the wholesale industry. I was in Teamsters Local 174 for seven years.