NLR residents sue apartment owner for $5 billion

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday seeking more than $5 billion in damages from the Ohio company that owns the Shorter College Garden Apartments in North Little Rock, where an Oct. 4 explosion killed three tenants, according to a court filing. Pulaski County Circuit.

Six residents of the Shorter College Garden Apartments — Jordan Warren, Kiara Booker, Bernamisha Young, Mianna Bryant, Kelly O’Donald and Shanta Burnett — filed the lawsuit individually and on behalf of all the others in a similar situation.

The defendants are Millennia Housing Management Ltd., Millennia Commercial Group Ltd., Millennia Housing Development Ltd. and Millennia Housing Capital Ltd. (collectively referred to in the lawsuit as the Millennia or Millennia Defendants), SC Apartments AR LLC (doing business as Shorter College Gardens Apartments), and John Doss 1-10.

Millennia failed to provide reasonably safe premises and exercise reasonable care to repair dangerously defective conditions when notified of the conditions, according to the lawsuit.

Millenia also failed to disclose known defects to tenants and refused to “eliminate uninhabitable conditions for the duration of the tenant’s leases,” according to the court filing.

“Shorter College Garden Apartments and the Millennium Defendants have established a pattern of knowingly renting residential units in unsafe and uninhabitable conditions and willfully neglecting to eliminate known hazardous conditions within a reasonable period of time,” the lawsuit states.

“As a result of Defendants’ deceptive and negligent conduct, Plaintiffs and other tenants have suffered (and continue to suffer) financial, mental, and physical injury,” according to the court filing.

After the explosion last October, the apartment complex’s management sent a letter to tenants stating that an inspection of the underground gas line infrastructure had been conducted and informing tenants of next steps and options for temporary housing and other accommodations, according to the lawsuit.

“The defendants intentionally told the tenants that the place was safe when they learned that the apartment still had a gas leak because an inspection had not been performed. The message was simply a lie,” the court filing stated.

The plaintiffs are suing for breach of contract, duty of good faith and fair dealing, premises liability, gross negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of warranty of habitability, and unjust enrichment, among others, according to the lawsuit.

Millennia owns and operates more than 280 apartment projects in 26 states, many of which participate in rental assistance programs such as those offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the lawsuit.

Millenia’s residential communities are home to more than 86,000 people and employ more than 1,100, according to the court filing.

The plaintiffs are seeking judgment for damages totaling at least $860 million, which represents $10,000 for each of the 86,000 people Millenia claims reside on its property, according to the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs are also seeking $4.3 billion in punitive damages, or $50,000 per resident for thousands of years.

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