COUNTY COUNTY, Florida. – A lawsuit filed this week in federal court alleges Good Samaritan Village discriminated against and took advantage of a resident after Hurricane Ian, forcing a woman – once again distressed by the sight of her destroyed belongings – to rush to sign her housing rights with paperwork , not in her native language.
Yolanda Delgado, 77, is the sole plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Orlando against the Good Samaritan Evangelical Lutheran Society, the Good Samaritan Society – Kissimmee Village and Sanford Health.
According to the lawsuit, Delgado evacuated the Good Samaritan village in late September 2022, before Jan’s flooding across Central Florida, days before the mandatory evacuation from the area announced by Osceola County. She claims she did not return to her home until around October 15, after learning from the news that Good Samaritan Village was allowing residents to return to their homes.
On the door to Delgado’s unit was the message “Air MD No Access”, which she claims the Good Samaritan Village never explained to her. Upon opening her door, Delgado found that her belongings, furniture and personal effects were damaged beyond repair, leaving her “emotionally distraught and in a state of extreme emotional distress,” the lawsuit says.
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On the same day, according to Delgado, an unknown woman approached her daughter and advised her to visit a public place. It was there that Delgado said she met with a Good Samaritan Village agent who allegedly spoke to her in English, despite Delgado being a Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican native with limited knowledge of English. This is despite the fact that, as the lawsuit states, the community claims to provide “[f]free language services for people whose first language is not English, such as qualified translators.”
According to the lawsuit, the woman allegedly told Delgado in English that she was required to sign paperwork to get her bail back, money that Delgado was entitled to under state law anyway.
Delgado was told she would have to vacate the premises by October 31, a little over two weeks later, allegedly adding to her suffering. The document she was given to sign—an “Agreement to Terminate the Lease and an Agreement to Relinquish Personal Property,” which was copied onto both sides of a single sheet of paper—instructed the removal of property at Delgado’s “own expense.” consumption”.
The document contained “an incredibly wide and wide exemption in which only the resident agrees to release [Good Samaritan Village] and his agents” of the following, according to the statement:
[A]All claims, all types of actions and actions, cause and causes of action, type of action, claim, debts, liabilities, bills, attorneys’ fees, expenses, interest, fees, sums of money, invoices, agreements, contracts, disagreements, agreements, promises, damages or claims and demands of any kind, at law or in equity … from the beginning of the world until the date of this Agreement …
Case 6:23-cv-01288 (excerpt)
Delgado was not provided with an accompanying translation of the termination agreement, she was not given enough time to review it before signing, and she was forced to sign it, the lawsuit says. Due to the lack of an interpreter, when Delgado asked what would happen if she did not sign the agreement, she was allegedly told that she would receive her bail in a few months on an unspecified date.
In addition, although the signature of the witness is contained in the agreement to terminate the contract, according to the lawsuit, no third party was present when Delgado signed it.
[Good Samaritan Village’s] coercion and intimidation interfered [Delgado’s] enjoy and exercise her housing rights by discriminating against her on the basis of her national origin in order to force her to waive her housing rights, limit her ability to exercise future housing rights, and unlawfully prevent her from bringing future claims against [Good Samaritan Village.]
Case 6:23-cv-01288 (excerpt)
The suit seeks relief in the form of punitive and compensatory damages for Delgado; that the court declares the actions of the Good Samaritan Village exploitation of Delgado as a vulnerable adult and a violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1968; that the Good Samaritan Village is forever prohibited from discriminating on the basis of national origin, and to take appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of the complained of acts; and that the termination agreement must be declared null and void ab initio.
The lawsuit follows another post-hurricane complaint filed in March by Maureen Kotch and Lucille Bishop, who seek damages of around $50,000, alleging that Good Samaritan Village never warned them of the risk of flooding when they both moved in.
Read the claim below.
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