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Mom of child who died in fall evicted from apartment

By: MATT STEINER
September 30, 2010
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A single mother was evicted from a Terry Ragan-owned apartment for being behind on her rent about five weeks after her 15-month-old son slipped through the railings of an indoor stairwell and died in a three-story fall.

Adrianna Spedilari was ordered by the property managers to leave the Cedar Crest Apartments, 2010 Carmel Drive, by Sept. 8 after she failed to pay September’s rent of $675, due on the first of the month. With late fees and other charges, Spedilari owed $737.43, according to the notice she received from Cedar Crest Properties.

Spedilari paid the back rent and late fees on Sept. 17, and agreed to cover attorney’s fees and vacate the apartment by the end of the month, court documents show.

On Monday, the attorney representing Spedilari and the child’s father, Christopher R. Perez, filed a motion requesting that the eviction action be dismissed and replaced with a lawsuit against the apartment owner.

The lawsuit, the motion states, would claim that the railings on the third floor walkway were spaced 8 inches apart, creating a hazard for small children that the apartment owner failed to correct or warn tenants and visitors about.

On July 30, Spedilari was doing laundry while a friend watched her son, Christopher Antonio Perez, as he played on the third-floor walkway. Spedilari told the Gazette she was putting clothes in the dryer, when she heard the friend scream, “Oh my God.”

Christopher squeezed through the railings and fell about 20 feet to the carpeted floor below, Colorado Springs police reported. The boy died at a hospital.

The motion to file a counterclaim states Cedar Crest Properties had a duty “to exercise reasonable care to create and maintain a safe and secure property for its invitees, including Adrianna Spedilari and Christopher A. Perez.”

The parents intend to seek damages for expenses and losses including medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses and an unspecified amount for emotional distress, pain and suffering, the motion states.

Perez, who did not live with Spedilari and Christopher at the time of the boy’s death, said even if a settlement is offered, he wants more than money from Ragan.

“The only way I’ll settle is if all of Terry Ragan’s apartments go up to date as far as codes go so that nobody else’s kids have to suffer,” Perez said Thursday.

Attempts to reach Ragan on Thursday were unsuccessful. Messages left with his company, Resident Management Systems, and  his attorney, William C. Duven, were not returned. The Cedar Crest Apartments manager declined to give her name and had no comment on the eviction or the child’s death.

Ragan, under limited liability corporations he formed, owns several apartment complexes primarily in southeast Colorado Springs.

The Gazette ran a series in 2003 on the problems at Ragan’s apartments, with police describing how tenants lived in fear of gangs, and tenants describing insect infestations, bad plumbing, no heat and other unsanitary conditions.

When residents complained to managers or code enforcement, Ragan would evict them rather than make repairs, tenants told the Gazette in 2003.

After the series ran, the city put some teeth in its code enforcement and Ragan, who lives in the Broadmoor area, has a better record of fixing problems at his complexes, according to code enforcement.

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