Earlier this week, Proskauer and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of tenants of the Meridian Heights apartment building (“Meridian Heights” or the “Property”), against the owner and associated property managers for their failure to maintain the Property in habitable condition.  Meridian Heights is home to a mostly Spanish-speaking community of working-class tenants located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of the District of Columbia.

As detailed in the complaint, the property owner and managers have repeatedly and systematically refused to make necessary repairs to the apartments and common spaces of the Property, despite repeated requests from tenants. As a result, the Property is riddled with deficiencies, including

  • significant infestations of rodents, cockroaches, and bedbugs;
  • excessive mold on the walls and ceilings caused by, among other things, interior dampness and inadequate ventilation in apartment units;
  • lack of heat in winter months and air conditioning in summer months;
  • no hot water for significant periods of time;
  • persistent plumbing problems and leaks;
  • improperly sealed doors and windows that allow water, cold air in the winter, hot air in the summer, and insects to enter the apartment;
  • significant structural issues, including holes in walls, doors that will not properly close and broken floor boards;
  • broken and unusable major appliances;
  • broken and dangerous electrical outlets; and
  • an accumulation of garbage that aggravates many of the issues set out above and allows a stench to permeate the Property.

The harms that tenants of Meridian Heights have experienced as a result of these conditions were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which forced tenants and their children to spend the majority of the day in their apartments.

Moreover, as detailed in the complaint, the property owner and managers have also interfered with the tenants’ ability to address the conditions at Meridian Heights through the tenant association, including calling the police when tenants acted collectively to protest the dire conditions at Meridian Heights.

The complaint alleges that the conduct of the property owner and managers violate tenants’ lease agreements, implied warranties of habitability and quiet enjoyment, the D.C. housing code, the D.C. Consumer Procedures Protection Act, and the D.C. Right of Tenants to Organize Act of 2006.

The complaint seeks damages and injunctive and declaratory relief, requesting, among other things, immediate repairs so that tenants can reside in their homes without jeopardizing their health, safety, and welfare, as well as that of their minor children.  Landlords and property owners must be held accountable for their conduct, and their continuous dismissal of tenants’ concerns and complaints and blatant violations of D.C. laws.

The Proskauer team includes Ann Ashton, Wilderness Castillo-Dobson, Benjamin Eisenberg, Amy Gordon, Shannon McGowan, Corey Rogoff, Raven Wells-Scott, Allison Witt, and Jessica Cohen.

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Photo of Amy Gordon Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Product Liability group. Amy’s practice focuses on a wide range of complex civil and commercial litigation matters, including product liability defense, class action defense, privacy and data security, and…

Amy Gordon is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Product Liability group. Amy’s practice focuses on a wide range of complex civil and commercial litigation matters, including product liability defense, class action defense, privacy and data security, and telecommunications disputes. She is also a member of the litigation team representing the Financial Oversight and Management Board in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition, Amy advises clients across industries on economic sanctions and asset forfeiture related issues.

Amy earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a Cybersecurity Graduate Fellow and served as Chief Notes Editor for The Review of Litigation.  During law school, Amy interned for the Honorable Nicholas G. Garaufis in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Photo of Shannon D. McGowan Shannon D. McGowan

Shannon McGowan is an associate in the Litigation department.  Shannon’s practice focuses on assisting clients navigate a range of antitrust issues.  In addition to her experience on wide-ranging antitrust litigations, Shannon works with clients on general antitrust compliance and litigation issues.  In connection…

Shannon McGowan is an associate in the Litigation department.  Shannon’s practice focuses on assisting clients navigate a range of antitrust issues.  In addition to her experience on wide-ranging antitrust litigations, Shannon works with clients on general antitrust compliance and litigation issues.  In connection with historic restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debts, Shannon advises the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico on a variety of issues related to Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.

Shannon maintains an active pro bono practice, including assisting non-profit organizations with research into immigration and refugee law and representing individual clients in litigation to improve housing conditions in the Washington D.C. area.

Shannon earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she captained the school’s Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court team.  As an alumnae, she is active in advising the current UVA Jessup Team throughout the year-long competition.

Prior to law school, Shannon served as a legislative assistant to state representatives at the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, where she researched and advised on legislation and policy issues, including government transparency, education, and financial accountability.