By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Apartment owner hit with lawsuit
Placeholder Image

A lawsuit has been filed against a landlord for failing to pay the apartment complex’s water bill, leaving her tenants without water while she disputes the bill.
“It’s unconscionable to leave these people without water when they’ve already paid for it,” said local attorney Michael Galligan, who filed the case pro bono on behalf of Cotten Apartment residents Vivian Joyce Taylor and Douglas Gordon McCrary.
Galligan filed the suit against Evelyn Cotten in her role as owner of Cotten Apartments. The 40-unit complex houses about 120 people, many of those being children, according to the lawsuit. Monthly rent is $585, which is supposed to cover all utilities including water. It is that violation of the contract on the part of the landlord that led to the lawsuit.
“The defendants knew the renters were paying for rent along with water and they (Cotten) knew the water bill was unpaid and the water would be cut off,” Galligan said in the lawsuit.
The city of McMinnville cut off water at the apartment complex Dec. 4 for nonpayment. The water was reconnected Dec. 10 as a humanitarian gesture by city officials, despite the bill being unpaid. It will remain on until the first of the year to give residents a chance to leave if they choose. It will be turned off again Jan. 2 if circumstances do not change.
Cotten says she does not plan to pay the massive water bill she feels was wrongly heaped on her. She believes it was the city’s fault she amassed a $16,000 water bill. Specifically, she believes when the city drained a nearby water tower that it shifted the foundation for one of her apartment buildings. One of those apartments settled on a water line, causing the line to break and leak. By the time the leak was discovered, Cotten said, a massive water bill had been accrued.
Regardless of her beef with the city, Galligan said she owes a duty to her tenants since she had caused them undue hardship during her bill dispute.
“The renters could not wash their dishes, flush commodes, take baths or showers, wash clothes or have drinking water, or water to cook, wash hands, clean counters or floors or wash bedding,” Galligan said, noting the stress caused one of his clients to go to the hospital. “Some renters bought water from stores. Others without money could not.”
A hearing will be held Monday before Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley during which time Galligan will ask Cotten’s bank accounts be frozen so she is not able to shift money that could be used to pay the water bill.
He also wants Cotten to be restrained from collecting any more rent until the water bill is paid.