LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) welcomed a Los Angeles County Superior Court ruling last week denying a demurrer by the City of Los Angeles, seeking to be dismissed as a defendant in a lawsuit about AHF’s Madison Hotel on Skid Row.
The favorable court ruling upheld a cross-complaint that AHF filed against the City in an existing lawsuit, Davis v. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, involving the Madison. AHF contends that the City is at least partly responsible for delays in repairing and upgrading the Madison, a five-story, 202-unit residential hotel that was admittedly not well-maintained when AHF assumed ownership in September 2017.
AHF, through its Healthy Housing Foundation (“HHF”), operates the Madison Hotel to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing to people with extremely-low-incomes, as well as to formerly homeless people, as part of AHF’s efforts to help alleviate Los Angeles’ homeless crisis.
And AHF’s work on this front is paying off. At approximately half capacity before, the Madison is nearly full with residents now.
Upon purchasing the Madison, which is nearly 100 years old, AHF knew that the building had multiple difficult problems that needed to be fixed. AHF has spent over $3 million on improvements and renovations, including redoing the electrical system for the building.
In a visit to the Madison in October 2019, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressly promised that AHF would receive “concierge services” from City departments to help revive the Madison. However, to AHF’s dismay, the City not only failed to provide concierge services, but actually became a major obstacle to moving forward.
“Solving all the problems at the Madison required the involvement of the City of Los Angeles to install certain infrastructure, to issue permits for the improvements and the repairs, and to conduct inspections,” said Jonathan Eisenberg, Deputy General Counsel - Litigation for AHF. “The City delayed implementation of the solutions for extraordinary lengths of time.”
Eventually, some Madison tenants sued AHF, and those cases are ongoing. In one of the lawsuits, Davis, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, AHF cross-claimed against the City, to bring it into the case as another defendant, because the City’s delays amount to a violation of the California Constitution.
In the demurrer, the City claimed that it had immunity from liability associated with the Madison. So the City moved the Court to dismiss the City from the case. Last week, the Court denied the City’s motion and ruled in favor of AHF. The ruling means that the City will remain in the case, as another defendant.
AHF anticipates ultimately prevailing in the case.
“AHF poured its heart and soul into the Madison Hotel building and community. We expected that there would be challenges. But we didn’t expect that the City would be the biggest challenge,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF.
The Madison was the first of 11 multi-unit residences that AHF purchased in Greater Los Angeles for the Healthy Housing Foundation to refurbish and to repurpose as homeless housing. The Madison sits at ground zero on Skid Row, directly across from Los Angeles Fire Department Station No. 9, one of the busiest stations in the nation. When AHF acquired the hotel, it came with some tenants in place as well as major building issues that AHF has been addressing since its 2017 purchase.
“We are grateful that Judge Buckley is allowing AHF to pursue its day in court with our cross-complaint against the City and hope that our legal action here—regardless of ultimate outcome—spurs a more nimble and civic-minded response in the future from city leaders and departments for organizations like AHF that are simply trying to help address the humanitarian crisis that is homelessness in Los Angeles,” added Weinstein.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.6 million individuals in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us @aidshealthcare.