On March 5, 2019, the Honorable Shannon E. Avery of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City issued a ruling finalizing a $96,593.39 award against Ted Thornton, Maryland Property Management, LLC, and ANT Properties, LLC (“Defendants”). Late last year, a jury had found the Defendants liable for illegally locking Helena Peters-Hawkins and Charles Hawkins (“Plaintiffs”) out of their home and taking or destroying property, including bunk beds, toddler beds, dishes, clothes, sheets and blankets, and a television. Plaintiffs and their children ended up sleeping on bare wooden floors and sharing a few blankets. The jury awarded Plaintiffs damages against Defendants, including an award for the emotional distress inflicted by the landlord during a several weeks’ long campaign of threats ending with an illegal eviction.
In 2013, the Maryland legislature provided a remedy for tenants, like Ms. Peters-Hawkins and Mr. Hawkins, whose landlords threaten eviction and take self-help measures to lock out tenants from their homes. Using the relatively new law, tenants may recover their damages and petition the court for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs to be paid by the offending landlord. In the instant case, the Court granted Plaintiffs the full amount of attorneys’ fees and costs requested.
One of the express purposes of the “illegal lockout” law in Maryland is to preserve human dignity and human rights. “This case is a win for our clients, who were repeatedly threatened by Defendants, and for tenants in Baltimore whose landlords may now think twice before violating their tenants’ rights,” said Chelsea Ortega of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC, Plaintiffs’ attorney. Ms. Peters-Hawkins stated, “we went through so much with this landlord, but we stood up against him and his companies. You cannot treat people the way we were treated.” No offer was made to settle the case prior to trial.
The case is Helena Peters-Hawkins, et al. v. Maryland Property Management, LLC, et al., case number 24-C-18-001445 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Ms. Peters-Hawkins and Mr. Hawkins were represented by Chelsea Ortega and Matthew Thomas Vocci of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC.