Western Skies Residents Win Big In Court

Posted By Ask Law Group || 27-Oct-2014

CASE: Martin J Singer, et al, v. Anderson North Limited Partnership, et al., Orange County Superior Court Case No. 05CC11890; Judge Randell L. Wilkinson; Dept. C19

An Orange County jury awarded the residents of the Western Skies Mobilehome Park over 2.2 million dollars against the Park owners for failing to maintain the mobilehome park. In addition, an injunction was issues requiring upgrades to the Park’s utilities and the construction of a new pool.

In 1999 the original developers transferred the Park to their children. These new owners immediately started to raise the rent and reduced services. In 2002, the owners closed the pool. By 2003, the clubhouse was in total disrepair: the roof leaked, there was no heat or hot water, and the bathroom facilities no longer worked. Instead of repairing the problems, the new owners bulldozed the clubhouse.

The residents also presented evidence as to the failing infrastructure. The gas system was so riddled with holes the gas company refused to energize the system, forcing the owners to replace the entire system. The electric system was undersized causing brownouts throughout the Park. The lighting no longer function in much of the Park.

In 2005, the owners attempted to force all the residents to sign a long term lease which would have raised their rent from $650 to $1,000 in three years and required the residents to pay an additional $40 per month to reimburse the owners for the cost to rebuild the gas lines. The residents were told if they refused to sign this lease, they would get an immediate $100 per month rent increase. Instead of signing this lease, the residents contacted the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League. The residents organized, refused to sign this lease, and contacted the law firm of Endeman, Lincoln, Turek & Heater LLP of San Diego, California. The law firm took their case and sued the Park owners.

Jim Allen of Endeman, Lincoln, Turek & Heater LLP said, “The residents of the Western Skies Mobilehome Park have helped every mobilehome resident in the state. The park owners around this State were watching this trial. The Park owners believed they could remove an old facility like the pool or clubhouse and not be held accountable. The jury told them otherwise by awarding the residents the damages they suffered and $1.7 million in punitive damages.”

The Park owners agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money and stipulated to a court-ordered injunction before the Court heard a motion for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. “Residents need to be aware of the power they possess,” said Allen. he added,”our Mobilehome Residency laws are the best in the country. However, the residents have to have the courage to enforce these laws.” The residents of the Western Skies Mobilehome Park had this courage and as a result, they will have a complete upgrade to this Park, their damages paid, and a $40 pass through removed from their rent. However, the greatest result is the message this jury has sent to all park owners in this State: Either properly maintain your parks or you will be held accountable.

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