SFMS Files Class Action Lawsuit On Behalf Of Tenants In Wisconsin

April 4th, 2006

Landlord Accused Of Building Code Violations
By: Derrick Nunnally

Beleaguered Milwaukee landlord Timothy J. Brophy Jr., who in recent months has been arrested over building code violations, hit with a $1.69 million court judgment and charged with three misdemeanors for hiding from police under a tenant's bed, has now been named in a class-action lawsuit over the condition of his many rental properties.

Jessica K. Wineberg, the lead plaintiff in the suit filed last week in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, rented an apartment from Brophy in November 2004 at 2563 N. Bremen St., but a city notice designating the property as uninhabitable because of its unsafe conditions appeared on the door.

She moved out and claims in the suit that Brophy neither told her about the apartment's uncorrected code violations before she moved in nor refunded her security deposit, which the law requires landlords to do.

If a judge grants class-action status for the lawsuit, Wineberg and all the other tenants in Brophy's rental properties - of which the suit claims there are between 60 and 100, many on the east side and in Riverwest - will collectively seek "twice the amount of any security deposits made . . . while there were uncorrected housing and building code violations at the properties."

Wineberg and her attorneys declined to comment on the suit, and Brophy could not be reached.

Brophy, who owed the city's Department of Neighborhood Services more than $40,000 as of late last week, was arrested last May on 26 warrants for building code citations.

He is still facing criminal charges in an August incident, in which he was charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct stemming from accusations he tried to escape police serving a warrant about the condition of his properties.

In February, he lost a lawsuit brought by Town Bank of Delafield. In that case, Brophy was ordered to give the bank $1.69 million plus two buildings he owned.

A class-action suit could greatly expand Brophy's legal woes.

"I think the house of cards is coming down," Todd N. Weiler of the Department of Neighborhood Services said when told of the suit.


Reprinted from the on-line version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel