Ollie Thompson, the disabled woman who faced eviction from her South Los Angeles apartment because she took in two foster children, will get to keep her home after all.
Her landlord, Lynda K. Starling, on Thursday dropped a lawsuit that sought to evict Thompson from the apartment she has been living in for 14 years.
"I am happy. I am really happy. My burden has been lifted," Thompson, 58, said repeatedly, planting kisses on her attorneys outside a downtown courtroom.
Thompson noted that she had kept a promise to "dress up my babies and bring them to court." Charlie Thomas, 3, who looked like a baby lawyer with his black shirt, black pants, white tie and gold chain hanging from his belt buckle, brought two plastic toy cars and a toy telephone for his day in court. His 16-month-old sister, Diana Parker, wearing a bright, flowered dress and pink bow clips in her hair, clutched her Raggedy Ann.
Judge Not Needed
As it turned out, the dispute was resolved without the need of a judge. After discussions between attorneys for the two sides, Starling agreed to drop her eviction case. Neither she nor her attorney, E. Houston Touceda, would discuss their decision with a reporter.
The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles took Thompson's case after she sought help to protest an illegal $70 monthly rent increase imposed last February. Starling eventually rescinded the increase, but two weeks later she served Thompson with another notice, claiming that she was violating her tenancy by allowing two illegal occupants to live in her two-bedroom, $208-a-month apartment.
The two "illegal occupants" were Charlie and Diana, who were taken from their drug-addicted mother and placed in Thompson's care by county Children Services workers.
Thompson looked glum as she sat on the wooden bench outside the courtroom with a sister and a neighbor who had come to testify on her behalf. Diane and Charlie sat in the middle of the corridor playing with their toys, oblivious to an informal settlement session between the attorneys.
"I am going to fight to keep a home for my poor little babies," Thompson said angrily before the settlement was reached. "My kids are too busy playing with their toys to bother anybody."
At first, Touceda said his client would drop the eviction suit only if Thompson dropped a related suit filed last week in Superior Court. Thompson's attorneys have sued Starling and her husband, Clifford, seeking damages for alleged fraud and breach of good faith.
Thompson told her attorneys she would not drop her case, and a few minutes later Touceda announced that his client was dropping her eviction action anyway.
"It's the only decision they could have made," said Legal Aid attorney Steven Zrucky. "This really involved the caring of the (foster) children. It is a very human and moving issue. I have never been more sure of winning a case."
"They did me wrong. With this (lawsuit) hanging over me, I couldn't eat or sleep properly. It sent up my blood pressure," Thompson said.
As she left the courthouse, Thompson said now that her troubles are over, she would take the children to see "Batman."