A blind man who was wrongfully evicted from his Southbridge apartment, without notice during a winter storm and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has reached a settlement in part of his case.
Bill Murphy, 52, has reached a settlement with his former landlord Kenneth Stanford, according to his attorney.
"The federal civil rights case against the landlord for the Murphy family has been settled, confidentially, through the mutual satisfaction of both sides," said Neuberger. "Justice for the poor and disabled has been done," said attorney Steve Neuberger.
Details of the settlement remain confidential, and a court must still approve the terms of the settlement because minors are involved.
The lawsuit against Delaware's Justice of the Peace Court system and the constables involved in Murphy's eviction that occurred in February of 2021, will go forward to trial.
"Bill still intends to end their policy of 'evict first, ask questions later,' which was used to throw he and his family out of their home despite his signed lease and without any notice or hearing before a Delaware judge," said Neuberger.
On Feb. 11, 2021, Murphy was making breakfast when he received a knock at the door and was given a half-hour to vacate the premises on Townsend Place before he and his young daughters were thrown out onto the street, despite showing a valid, signed, one-year lease. At the time, constables rejected the lease, noting it was neither notarized, sealed nor watermarked. However, no such requirements for lease agreements exist under Delaware law.
Additionally, the eviction order, carried by constables and showed at the scene, contained the name of a previous tenant--not Murphy.
After vacating, the home was boarded up, and Murphy was unable to retrieve the urn carrying his wife's remains or his children's laptops, which they needed to participate in Zoom school.
Since being thrown out of his home, Murphy and his children continue to reside at the New Castle County Hope Center, a hotel that was turned into an emergency pandemic shelter, using county CARES Act funding, in December of 2020.
"Bill's hanging in there...it's still troubling times," said Neuberger. "They're struggling; they've had trouble finding substitute housing. It's hard to find a rental property out there now given the situation with COVID and with the eviction moratorium closing, so he's hanging in there, doing the best he can, but the whole family is still having a rough time."
While settlement funds may help improve Murphy's situation, his lawsuit continues against the court system to ensure this never happens to anyone again.
"It will certainly make Bill feel better to know that this will never happen again, and he doesn't have that assurance until the state ends its policy. You can't throw someone out of their house without giving them a hearing, especially when you give the constables your signed lease, and until Bill has that assurance that that's won't happen to someone else, that is what will make him sleep through the night," said Neuberger. It's just been such a terrible experience for he and his family."
Last time WDEL reached out to Stanford for comment he asked that we never call him again.
A spokesman for the Delaware courts system previously said that they won't comment on pending litigation.