Jury Rules in Favor of Non-Profit Against Austin Landlord, Awards Damages

In only the second Zoom jury trial in Travis County, a jury returned a verdict in favor of non-profit Together We Rise Corporation against Rosa Santis, the non-profit’s former landlord with an estimated $10MM in Austin real estate holdings.

Together We Rise is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children in foster care. In 2019, Together We Rise helped about 100,000 kids in foster care and provided over $1,000,000 in scholarships for former foster youth.

In 2018, Together We Rise rented a property located at 757 Shady Lane, in Austin, Texas, with the intent of establishing their Texas headquarters. However, problems plagued the building, and Together We Rise was never able to use the space as intended.

In 2020, Together We Rise filed suit against Santis alleging that she breached the lease with the non-profit by, among other things, failing to rebuild offices and restrooms that were removed as a result of asbestos abatement and failing to repair the roof that repeatedly leaked. Together We Rise alleged breach of contract, breach of implied warranty of suitability, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment by constructive eviction, violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, fraud, and a claim under for declaratory judgment.

The case was tried to a jury remotely over Zoom in March 2021. The jury found that Santis breached the lease with Together We Rise and awarded Together We Rise $208,380 in damages.

Following the verdict, the court entered judgment against Santis for $208,380 in damages and $100,000 in attorney’s fees.

Together We Rise was represented by John R. McConnell and Thomas Williams McConnell, PLLC. You can read the allegations in the lawsuit here.

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