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Jury dings landlord for junking deceased tenant’s stuff

By: renee.sexton//June 25, 2019

Jury dings landlord for junking deceased tenant’s stuff

By: renee.sexton//June 25, 2019


A York County jury has awarded a verdict in favor of a woman who says that her late brother’s landlord discarded his possessions after he died instead of offering them to his family. Although the monetary award was small, the verdict was a “vindication” for the plaintiff, her attorney reports.

Malissa Church of Rock Hill said Larry Boular died in May 2017, with his rent paid through the end of the month. His sister, Christine Martinez, said that the landlord, Saranac Management Group, told her she had 14 days to clear Boular’s apartment of his belongings. Soon after, Martinez learned from a neighbor that Saranac was coming to clean out the apartment June 1.

“She had made several frantic and angry phone calls to the management company who said they didn’t have any contacts,” Church said. “It turns out, they did. They had her sister’s name and phone number and never contacted her.”


Martinez’s sister was listed on the lease as Boular’s next of kin, but because Martinez was more able-bodied of the sisters, she was taking care of their brother’s funeral arrangements. Church said when Martinez confronted Saranac’s management team, they offered to take a dump truck with her brother’s belongings wherever she wanted it to go.

“She told them ‘Put it back into the apartment,’ and they said no,” Church said. “They said ‘Well, we can dump it here on the side of the road and you can go through it, or we’ll take it anywhere else,’ and she said ‘No, put it back in the apartment,’ and they took it and threw it away.”

Church sued Saranac for violation of the South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Church said her client offered to settle for $18,000, and Saranac offered a nuisance settlement value of $1,500, which her client rejected. Martinez claimed that since Boular did not have a bank account, he stashed his cash throughout his apartment and his belongings, of which as much as $12,000 had been lost.

On June 18, the jury returned a verdict for $9,275.

“I don’t think it should have ever gone to trial,” Church said. “I needed to get some vindication for my client. This is not a wealthy family. They’re a working family and the unfairness of it and the wrongness of it was just so powerful, it spoke to me.”

John Foster of Rock Hill represented Saranac. He could not be reached for comment on the verdict.

Follow Renee Sexton on Twitter @BobcatRenee


Amount: $9,275

Injuries alleged: Loss of personal property

Case name: Christine Martinez v. Saranac Management Group

Court: York County Circuit Court

Case No: 2017-CP-46-02923

Date of verdict: June 18

Highest offer: $1,500

Attorney for plaintiff: Malissa Church of Rock Hill

Attorneys for defendant: John Martin Foster of Rock Hill


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