An unhappy ending to the story of a 97-year-old woman who was fighting eviction in California's Bay Area: Marie Hatch has died, the law firm representing her pro bono announced late Thursday. "There is no doubt that the callous eviction of Marie Hatch has caused her death," Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy said in a statement, per the San Jose Mercury News. Hatch had battled cancer in recent years, but the San Francisco Chronicle says she was hospitalized due to a severe cold. She died after returning home Thursday. Hatch had been served with an eviction notice Feb. 11 giving her 60 days to move out of the cottage she had been living in for 66 years. She said a recently widowed friend who owned the home asked her to move in all those years ago, and promised she could live there the rest of her life, a promise that was kept by the friend's daughter and granddaughter but reneged by the granddaughter's estranged husband after his wife was murdered.
The husband, the current landlord of the house, claimed he felt awful about having to evict her, but said the agreement was not put into writing. He said his wife's trust was expiring this year and he needed to sell the house in order to make sure his sons were provided for. Hatch's story went viral, prompting many offers of help, and the law firm representing her filed a suit against the landlord last week alleging breach of contract, elder abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Others offered alternate housing arrangements, but Hatch was agoraphobic and did not want to move. She was paying about $960 a month in rent, $1,600 below the average rent in the county, and the Mercury News says her story illustrates how difficult it is for seniors on fixed incomes to afford Bay Area housing. The law firm will continue the suit on behalf of 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock, who lived in the house with Hatch for 36 years. (Read more eviction stories.)