Slumlord Keith Reitman, whose ownership of the "ugly ass chocolate brown building" has been often mentioned by this blog, is now being sued over a child falling from one of the windows at the building in question, listed as 1411 West Broadway in the lawsuit. A quick review of the case file reveals interesting details of the Reitman slumlord empire and previous incidents involving children falling from the windows of a different building owned by Keith Reitman.
The case, which was filed by the parent of a minor child, is titled as follows...
Stacy Shaffer, individually, and as parent and natural guardian of (name withheld by Johnny Northside) vs. Keith Reitman. It is Hennepin County Civil Case 27-CV-09-23991.
The case contends that a toddler in question plunged through a "stapled on" window screen on the second story of the ugly ass chocolate brown building. (That colorful term is not actually used in the lawsuit, however, but it's pretty clear that's the building in question, the crappy-looking one which so many members of the community have asked Reitman to spiff up, but no spiff has been forthcoming and Johnny Northside blog publicly asks WHERE IS OUR RIGHTFUL SPIFF?!) The child received "internal head injuries" as a result.
According to contentions in the lawsuit file, this is the third child to fall from the window of a building owned by slumlord Keith Reitman, who apparently admitted in deposition that two other children fell from windows at 1900 Portland Avenue, which he owned until 2004, according to online city property records.
A professional engineer who examined the fateful window at issue in the Shaffer lawsuit called the window "jerrybuilt." However, Reitman's attorneys (Ted Waldeck and Peter Lind) deny Reitman is responsible for the injury to the child, saying as follows:
"(The Plaintiff is) contending, without support, that Mr. Reitman breached a promise to repair the window screen and in so doing contributed to the accident at issue."
It should be noted that Reitman's liability is alleged to be CONTRIBUTORY. In other words, Reitman is alleged to be PARTLY responsible for the child falling from the jerrybuilt, stapled together, piece-of-crap window screen. Shaffer alleges that some "white guy" climbed up on a ladder and installed the window screen after she asked for a screen--versus no screen at all--because the apartment was hot and she wanted to have some windows open. Shaffer also says she asked if the screen would be "reinforced with wood" but was told words to the effect it was "good enough." The child in question was playing--slipped from attention and control for just a moment--and plunged through the jerrybuilt screen.
On the other hand--as the defense mentions over and over--screens are not safety devices made to hold the weight of children. Accidents like this happen ALL THE TIME. On an objective and speculative note, Johnny Northside blog can't help but ask: should window screens be made out of more sturdy stuff like Kevlar mesh? I mean, if kids are plunging through window screens ALL THE TIME, isn't there a way to address that with some clever technological fix?
I'm just throwing that out there...
In my editorial opinion--and it is, admittedly, strongly influenced by Reitman's stubborn intransigence on the issue of beautifying his "ugly ass chocolate brown building"--Reitman deserves to pay through the nose for this lawsuit. If I were a landlord like Keith Reitman, and ONE child plunged through a window screen, then I would go about replacing and reinforcing every screen on all my properties. God forbid it should EVER happen again. God forbid I should be found blameworthy in any way for--good lord--harm to a child.
Yet this is the THIRD child who has plunged from a window at a Reitman property. Not the SECOND but the THIRD. I say throw the book at Keith Reitman. Some nice trim work on the ugly ass chocolate brown building could make me soften my opinion, but I don't see THAT happening any time short of somebody else owning the property.
The lawsuit also mentions that Reitman is 58 years old and moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago in 1971. The lawsuit pointedly mentions the number of properties he owns which are low-income rentals. One is tempted to write down the first letter from each paragraph of the lawsuit to see if it spells out "slumlord," because the lawsuit says everything EXCEPT that word directly, but it's difficult to see how a much stronger inference can be drawn.
The case is scheduled for a jury trial at 9 AM in the court of Judge Robert A. Blaeser, the same judge who recently did such a fine job dealing with Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer. Shaffer is represented by Paul E. Godlewski of Schwebel, Goetz and Siben.