Jack Halprin may be the head of Google's armada of eDiscovery lawyers, but he's becoming an serial evictor back in San Francisco. After purchasing a seven-unit building in the Mission District in 2012, he quickly began illegally evicting his tenants. But now four of his tenants are suing him for violating a litany of laws, and Halprin is trying to elude the lawsuit.
Halprin even went as far as leaving a case management summons from his tenants on the street when the process server attempted to serve him.
The lawsuit is the second filed against Halprin by tenants in the past year. The latest suit, filed last month in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Halprin has been neglecting the building and harassing the remaining tenants, who are slated to be evicted in February. It claims Halprin has allowed the "excessive growth of mold" in one unit, refused to repair heating systems, and is allowing the building to become "infested" with mice. He's even accused of spying on one tenant:
Steven Collier, an attorney representing the tenants, tells Valleywag that Halprin "tried to avoid service for many days." Ultimately, the tenants' lawyers "had to pay a process server to stake out his house" and give Halprin notice of the suit.
When the process server finally did catch up with Halprin, Google's top lawyer became downright petulant. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Chris 'Johnny' Sideris, explains to Valleywag what happened:
Halprin had bounded down the stairs at 812 Guerrero and quickly headed towards Valencia on 20th St. The process server finally caught up to him on the corner of 20th and Valencia, right outside of Dog Eared Books, and served him the papers. Halprin didn't even acknowledge the server. Pretended he wasn't even there. How cowardly is that? So, after a while, the process server, in front of witnesses, threw the papers down at Halprin's feet and walked away. A half hour later, as I was walking to work, I saw the papers were still there and took that picture.
Collier tells us that dropping a notice at a defendant's feet "is a legal way of serving someone who refuses to accept the paperwork."
However, Collier noted it was "strange" for an accomplished corporate lawyer to behave in such a manner. Collier suggested Halprin may realize he's in the wrong, which could explain why he's avoiding being served.
It's not an unreasonable theory. The first lawsuit against Halprin alleged that he illegally evicted one of his tenants, using his former domestic partner as leverage for an "owner move in" eviction. Just two weeks ago, Halprin was forced to settle that suit out of court for an undisclosed sum.
As Uptown Almanac's Jackson West reported at the time, Halprin's wrongdoing was apparent:
A few months after joining Google, in March of 2012, he and [his then domestic partner Daniel Ortiz] bought the building together at 812 Guerrero and Halprin moved in, evicting a former tenant in the process. Ortiz, however, remained in Venice, California according to tenants. On August 30th of 2012, an eviction notice was served to 20-year building tenant Susan Coss, Halprin's neighbor in an adjoining apartment. Ostensibly, Ortiz would be moving into the unit from his home in Venice and making it his primary residence for the next three years.
Halprin allowed Coss to stay in her unit until November 16th, a couple of weeks after the date on the notice, but according to Coss's attorney Joe Tobener, he and Ortiz filed for separation on November 10th. And after Coss left, the wrongful eviction lawsuit alleges Halprin proceeded to merge her unit into his as part of an unpermitted remodel. A check of the online San Francisco Property Information Map database shows two permits on file for 2013, neither of which were for a unit merger.
One of the tenants of the current suit is Claudia Tirado, a third grade teacher, who made headlines earlier this summer interrupting Google I/O's keynote, yelling "You need to develop a conscience, Google!"
Collier tells us that the four tenants that filed the lawsuit, including Tirado and her two-year-old son, have already been given notice of their upcoming evictions. However, the tenants are "going to contest the evictions vigorously."
Tirado hopes to continue living in San Francisco, but has stated she'll only be able to if she secures below market rate housing—an option that's difficult to obtain in a competitive real estate market, where residents can only obtain BMR housing through a lottery.
Collier believes that potential winnings from the lawsuit will help prevent the tenants from being immediately priced out of San Francisco.
"Any additional compensation may help them stay in the city longer."
You can read the entire lawsuit against Halprin below:
Halprin and spokespersons from Google did not respond to our requests for comment.
Eviction notice photo: Chris 'Johnny' Sideris