Representing a Little Girl Who Was Tortured by Bedbugs

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Five year old girls need a lot of love and comfort from their mothers and teachers – especially when they have just moved over a thousand miles from home. Brooklyn and her Mom, Ashley, had just moved to Birmingham from Maine. Brooklyn needed a little extra love and kindness because she was the new girl and had no friends in Birmingham.

Instead of loving and accepting Brooklyn, teachers and students shunned her. They refused to touch her or even get close to her. They were scared of her. They were afraid of a five year old little girl.

Brooklyn would cry every day and beg her mother, Ashley, not to leave her at pre-school. She knew she was unwelcome. But Brooklyn’s mother had to send her because she had to work to pay for food, clothes and living expenses.

Brooklyn was horrified to go home too. Home was not a safe place. Bad stuff happened in her apartment. And she carried the scares of what happened at home everywhere she went.

Home meant another night of torture in the one place children are supposed to feel safe more than any other. Ashley was ashamed of herself as a mother every time she dragged Brooklyn, kicking and screaming, into their Hoover apartment. It meant another long night of abuse and torture.

The abuse was not doled out by a pervert, pedophile or raging parent but by the landlord.

Home meant another dreadful night of bleeding onto the bed. Home meant feeling the stings and itching of multiple bites that sometimes felt like sleeping with a nest of Yellow Jackets. After dozens of bed bugs pulled their blood sucking stingers out of Brooklyn and her mother blood would sometimes drip onto sheets. And the itching would start. And the welts would appear. And Brooklyn and Ashley would cry until exhaustion allowed the relative comfort of restless sleep again. This happened for months on end.

le-chateau-bedbugs

The first thing every morning, mother and daughter would pray that the bites were not on their faces again because it made them look sick, and dirty, and homeless. Brooklyn’s mother would pray for a way to get her dignity back, a way to provide her daughter a safe place to live, money for a doctor and child psychologist. Ashley wanted to stop hating herself for feeling like a failure as a mother. But as the misery continued day-after-day and month-after-month, hopelessness and depression settled in.

It is expensive to get rid of bed bug infestations and her landlord refused to pay for the professional treatment and remediation.

You see, the landlord did not think much of the desperate and poor but hard-working families who lived at the company’s Le Chateau apartments on Lorna Road. Most were Hispanic immigrants. Most were illegal and unable to complain for fear of being jailed, deported and separated from their families. The landlord knew its tenants were trapped by either immigration status or poverty, or both.

The white staff made fun of the Hispanics.

The landlord’s managers told this mother that the Hispanics were dirty Mexicans who live with bed bugs and she and her girl would too. But the landlord’s hatred of Mexicans and working-poor white families was surpassed but their lust for money. After all, the love of money is the root of all evil. And it is hard to describe this landlord’s actions as anything other than evil.

Campbell Law wishes the landlord was some faceless mega-corporation from far away. They are not. Kevin Hayes is a high level manager at LMS Real Estate Investment Management, LLC who knew what was happening. He chose to do nothing. He lives among us right here in Birmingham. Officials said the “dirty Mexicans” bring in bed bugs and live with them and poor white folks would have to too. LMS manages other low-end apartments around Birmingham. www.lmscorporateonline.com The company web site brags about setting expense budgets and not exceeding them by more than 0.1%. LMS also brags that it has a “zero delinquency” rate. Tortured tenants, even children who are not “dirty Mexicans,” are considered “worth” less than making budgets at LMS. After all, you can’t brag on the internet if you don’t make your budgets. And you certainly can’t brag about abusing little girls.

After Ashley found the courage to quit paying rent so she could save the money to move to a safe place and said through her actions that she would not tolerate the abuse, LMS showed what it is made of. They sued Ashley – asking a judge to throw them into the street through eviction. And LMS sued to take the money Ashley was saving to move to a safe place. Desperate and with no place left to turn in a strange new town, she went to a lawyer, Jack Jacobs. And she cried. And she begged for help. Jacobs asked Campbell Law to team with him to counter-sue for the torture.

A May 2, 2011 jury trial has been set by Jefferson County Presiding Circuit Judge Scott Vowell.

It looks like the LMS budget will be blown this year. LMS and its comfortable owners and managers are learning that the courts put the rich and the poor on a level playing field. A poor mother who could not protect her daughter without help and a rich corporate landlord are the same in the eyes of the law, and this judge, and a Birmingham jury.

We will call witnesses and LMS will call witnesses. LMS will learn what a jury in Jefferson County believes is the proper penalty for torturing a little girl and her mother.

Ashley and her mother moved back to Maine. Ashley is in nursing school and working hard at a new job with insurance coverage that will allow her to finally get some treatment for Brooklyn’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When we drive Ashley and Brooklyn to the airport for their return flight to Maine after the May trial, we fully expect they will know what they are “worth” and what our community thinks of landlords like LMS. Those will be a couple of the most important plane tickets Campbell Law has ever purchased.

The lawyers and staff at Campbell Law are sometimes laughed at when we tell folks that we are in the business of trying to help some of God’s needy children. It is hard to know God’s will but he probably isn’t made about us trying to help Ashley and Brooklyn.