Former Canoga Park apartment managers awarded $7.6 million in lawsuit

Former husband-and-wife live-in apartment managers were awarded a total of $7.6 million in a lawsuit alleging they were wrongfully fired by the owners and managers of a Canoga Park complex in 2017 after he contracted thyroid cancer, their attorneys announced on Monday, Aug. 9.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached its verdicts last week in favor of Albert Garcia, now 58, and his 49-year-old wife, Stephanie. The couple sued Gresham Apartments Investors, owners of the building on Gresham Street, and the property managers, Seltzer-Doren Management Co. Inc., for wrongful termination in March 2018.

Lawyers for both defendants denied any wrongdoing on the part of their clients.

The couple were hired to live on-site and manage the building in 2013 and Albert Garcia was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March 2017, causing him to pause from his duties to undergo surgeries, radiation and other treatments, according to the suit.

By September 2017, the defendants became “noticeably unhappy” with Albert Garcia based on his needs to take time off and be provided accommodations, according to the plaintiffs. The Garcias were shunned and scrutinized, then fired about two weeks before Thanksgiving 2017, according to their court papers.

The jury last Tuesday awarded Albert Garcia $2.35 million in compensatory damages and $30,725 in compensatory damages to his wife. On Thursday, the same panel awarded $4 million in punitive damages to Albert Garcia and $1.25 million in punitive damages to his spouse.

In each plaintiff’s case, the majority of the punitive damages were assessed against Gresham Apartments Investors.

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