Dog Pee or Scorpions? Cubs Prez Theo Epstein's Wild Landlord-Tenant Dispute

Cubs president Theo Epstein.
Arturo Pardavila III, CC 2.0
Cubs president Theo Epstein.
Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein's dog "left a terrible odor and urine-stained carpeting" in an Arizona home he stayed in for the 2015 spring training season, his landlords from that year claim.

Epstein denied his alleged tenancy fouls through a spokesperson and claimed his landlords failed to address a scorpion infestation that put his family in danger.

From February to March 2015, Epstein lived in a Paradise Valley home owned by John and Mary Valentino, a married couple based in Pennsylvania. Epstein stayed in the home with his wife, two children, and 10-pound rescue mutt.

According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, Epstein's pup peed prolifically in the $1 million house, staining tile and stone flooring, wood door jams, cabinets, and furniture. In addition to urine stains, the Epsteins also allegedly left the home with drywall holes, broken cabinet handles, a torn shower curtain, a ripped grill cover, and other damages.

Julian Green, vice president of communications for the Chicago Cubs, said the lawsuit is "baseless." Epstein's family claimed they discovered dog urine stains upon moving into the 3,595-square foot home.

click to enlarge The house - GOOGLE MAPS
The house
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Epstein also claimed his landlords refused to do anything about dozens of scorpions that lived on the property, including venomous pests found in his children's bedrooms.

"This frivolous lawsuit would have you believe a 10-pound rescue puppy transformed into a nightmarish Levitán from the 1984 Alice Cooper horror movie and went on a rampage in a rental property," Green said. "The truth is the real horror story was the house and inhabited creatures that put this family at risk every time they put their children to sleep."

Andrea Simbro, a Phoenix lawyer who represents the Valentinos, said, "We cannot provide any comment at this time and would need to discuss any comments with our clients."

Green declined to provide the name of Epstein's dog. But he did show Phoenix New Times a March 9, 2015, extermination report written by Ben Holland, an exterminator with the Phoenix-based Scorpion Sweepers.

Holland wrote that he found 45 Arizona bark scorpions on the property. Most of them appeared to live in five containers of wood and stone debris in the backyard, Holland wrote, adding that the scorpions in the area "lit up like a Christmas tree" when he shined a black light upon them.

"These scorpions have clearly been living here for a long time and there is an established adult and juvenile scorpion population," Holland wrote to Epstein's administrative assistant.

Holland confirmed the authenticity of the report in a text message to New Times. He added he was "surprised" by the number of scorpions he found on the Valentinos' property "because it was very early in the season."

Arizona bark scorpions, the type found in the Valentino home, are the most venomous species found in the Southwest. Their stings are rarely fatal but can cause severe pain and other symptoms like nausea, tingling, and vomiting. Children and pets are especially susceptible to the Arizona bark scorpion's sting.

Green said one or two days after Holland's sweep, Epstein encountered a scorpion after bathing his infant son. That was the last straw. The Epsteins moved out of the house in mid-March and found another rental property for the last two weeks of spring training.

Green said the Cubs president asked the Valentinos to refund the final two weeks of rent due to the scorpion infestation, but that the landlords refused. The Valentinos also refused to refund their $5,000 security and pet deposit.

The Valentinos claimed they discovered urine stains after the Epsteins moved out. According to the lawsuit, the landlords notified the Epsteins on April 16, 2015, of the alleged damages, noting that an initial estimate of repairs exceeded their security deposit.

"The Valentinos attempted to re-mediate the premises through major cleaning, power washing the patio and walls, having the carpet cleaned and treated, having the tile cleaned and treated, fumigating the premises, and replacing the air cleaners, and touching the paint," the lawsuit says.

But the repair efforts did not eradicate urine that had "penetrated through the carpeting and pad to the slab," as well as stains on the tile grout, leaving the Valentinos unable to re-let the house.

In February 2017, the landlords provided a repair estimate to the Epsteins of $51,405 and requested the family's insurance information for coverage of the damages. The Epsteins have not provided their insurance information, according to the suit.

As evidence of the Epstein family canine's incontinence, the Valentinos allude to a quote the Cubs president gave to ESPN.

After his team won the 2016 World Series, breaking the longest drought in American professional sports, Epstein was named the world's greatest leader by Fortune magazine. He laughed off the distinction.

Epstein told ESPN, "Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house."