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Ex-San Diego Councilman Claims Firm Defamed Him

November 21, 1986

A former San Diego city councilman who was ordered to pay $1.83 million in damages to tenants of his dilapidated mid-Wilshire apartment building sued the law firm that represented the tenants Thursday, accusing lawyers of defaming him when they called him "not just any slumlord, (but) the worst."

In the $10-million Los Angeles Superior Court suit against Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the firm that represented 150 tenants in one of the costliest legal battles ever waged against a slumlord, Michael Schaefer said lawyers for the firm made a number of defamatory statements about him to news reporters during the case.

Among them, Schaefer said, were claims that he turned a $1-million profit on the building and allowed hoodlums to "squat" in vacant units, a security problem that attorneys said led to the shooting of the child of the lead plaintiff, Marjie Gallego.

Schaefer, who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland earlier this year, said he had actually made only $100,000 on the building. The shooting, he said, "was the shooting in the arm of a Hispanic dope-dealing gang member."

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