Lee v. Greenridge LCF Association
Plaintiffs claimed that a leak in the homeowners’ association’s pressurized irrigation line leaked in November 2005, and that the leak continued for several days. As a result, they claimed that the masonry pool deck, garage, and interior of their upscale home in La Cañada-Flintridge were all damaged from the leak.
Plaintiffs contended that the irrigation line existed on their property without their knowledge and consent, that the HOA was negligent in maintaining the irrigation line, and that the HOA violated its fiduciary duty to Plaintiffs. As a result, they alleged that property suffered $92,000.00 in damage and that they were unable to sell it as a result.
We contended that the HOA line was installed by the real estate developer, and that the line was constructed of materials that met the standard of care. Upon notification of a leak by plaintiffs, we contended that the irrigation line was turned off immediately by the HOA. We contended that the damages to the brick masonry and the moisture damage to the garage and interior of the home were pre-existing and were unrelated to the leak in the irrigation line.
Plaintiffs took a very aggressive settlement stance and demanded $300,000.00 at the mediation. We also took an aggressive settlement posture and offered only $10,000.00 at the mediation, a clear indication of our skepticism about the merits of Plaintiffs’ claim. After the unsuccessful mediation, we made a C.C.P. §998 Offer in the amount of $10,000.00. Prior to trial, Plaintiffs reduced their demand to $70,000.00. We then offered $30,000.00 via another §998 Offer to avoid the expense of trying the case, and this was followed by a settlement offer of $35,000.00 on the day before trial.
The trial was very contentious and was fought hard by both sides. Ultimately, we were successful in striking the testimony of Plaintiffs’ soils engineer. As a result, the court granted a rare nonsuit on the grounds that Plaintiffs failed to establish causation for any actual damage to their property.
Because we made a timely §998 Offer, we were able to present a Memorandum of Costs for court costs and expert fees in excess of $52,000.00. We were success on appeal.
The results here demonstrate the importance of making a timely statutory offer as part of an overall defense strategy in a case.