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April 2017, Marin County Superior Court. Plaintiff was a homeowner with a laundry list of complaints against his homeowners association, including alleged violations of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act and of the homeowners association’s CC&Rs (“covenants, conditions and restrictions”). Because the homeowners association is a nonprofit corporation and its directors are not compensated for their service (which is typically the case for homeowners associations and their directors in California), Code of Civil Procedure section 425.15 required plaintiff to obtain a court order allowing him to file a complaint against the individual directors before he did so. Plaintiff filed a petition with the court seeking permission, giving his reasons for wanting to do so and supporting it with the evidence he thought was relevant.
Shareholder David Blinn opposed the petition. His opposition included evidence showing the directors acted in conformance with the Business Judgment Rule, plaintiff did not have admissible evidence substantiating his claims, and various statutory defenses existed to defeat plaintiff’s claims. The court agreed and denied plaintiff’s petition.
As the prevailing parties, the directors were entitled to an award of their attorney fees and costs under both the Davis-Stirling Act and under the terms of the CC&Rs. Shareholder Guy Stilson filed a motion seeking a determination and award of fees and costs owing from plaintiff to the directors. Plaintiff opposed the motion.
The court granted the motion and ordered plaintiff to pay over $10,000 in fees and costs to the directors.
Monterey Partner Christine Balbo Reed, obtained a defense verdict in the Alameda Superior Court case entitled Notarmaso v. Aaron’s Inc. Plaintiff and her two year old son allegedly received bedbug bites from previously leased bedroom furniture. Plaintiffs claimed bite injuries, shame and depression relating to the exposure and property damage. During the nine days of trial, the defense aggressively attacked plaintiff’s lack of evidence that the bedbugs came from Aaron’s when the furniture was delivered at her apartment. The jury agreed with the defense and expressly found that Aaron’s was not negligent, did not breach its contract, nor did it provide an improper product to its client. Congratulations to Christine, and Aaron’s Inc. on this vindicating trial result.
Plaintiff filed a complaint in Contra Costa County against the property manager and Board members of her Homeowner’s Association, alleging various causes of action involving perceived violations of the Davis-Stirling Act and the Association’s CC&R’s. David Blinn, a Low, Ball & Lynch partner, successfully demurred to the First and Second Amended Complaint, ultimately resulting in an order sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend, judgment for the defendants and dismissal of the action.
LBL is currently defending a big box store in an alleged bedbug infestation case. During the course of litigation, Plaintiff’s counsel cancelled three properly-noticed depositions of his client. Upon cancelling the third deposition, LBL Monterey shareholder Christine B. Reed and LBL Monterey associate Eric C. Fonferek brought a Motion to Compel Plaintiff’s appearance at deposition, seeking monetary sanctions. Plaintiff’s counsel agreed to produce Plaintiff shortly after being served with the Motion. The deposition was conducted as scheduled. However, LBL did not take the Motion off calendar, believing that despite the fact that Plaintiff’s counsel, belatedly, begrudgingly and under the threat of motion ultimately produced Plaintiff, its client was entitled to monetary sanctions because Plaintiff’s counsel’s refusal to produce his client was without substantial justification (CCP § 2025.450 (g)(1)). Defendant was forced to expend unnecessary time, fees and costs.
Plaintiff’s counsel vehemently disagreed in its opposition, calling LBL’s motion for sanctions frivolous and an egregious misuse of the discovery process. Plaintiff sought sanctions of its own against Defendant and LBL.
Ultimately, the Alameda County Superior Court decided that Plaintiff’s counsel acted without substantial justification in his refusal to produce Plaintiff for deposition, denied Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions and ordered monetary sanctions in favor of Defendant.
Plaintiff filed a complaint in San Francisco County Superior Court, claiming that his property manager had impermissibly evicted him and taken his personal property. Plaintiff also claimed the conditions of his apartment breached the implied warranty of habitability. Charles Redfield of Low, Ball & Lynch represented the property manager. Plaintiff had been evicted from his apartment pursuant to a stipulated judgment, after the property management company had filed an unlawful detainer action against plaintiff. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeal held that plaintiff’s claims were barred by res judicata. The official title of the case is Needelman v. Dewolf Realty Co. (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 750. The California Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for review.
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