Rancho Mirage Homeowners Sue Developers for Violating Covenant, Bullying
Rancho Mirage, Calif. – A group of Rancho Mirage, California homeowners has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court against real estate developers, Ronald Richards and Michael Schlesinger, alleging that the defendants bullied elderly homeowners and depressed their property values in order to make them relinquish their rights to the neighboring golf course, according to Hagens Berman.
The complaint, filed by the Los Angeles branch of nationwide class-action firm Hagens Berman, details the aggressively bad-faith retaliation tactics taken by Richards and Schlesinger in multiple communities, including dumping five tons of raw manure next to the homes of residents who resisted their development project in Escondido, California.
It alleges that Richards and Schlesinger routinely purchase golf courses inside residential communities and then destroy the courses in order to drive down surrounding property values. That way, they are able to pressure the elderly neighbors into allowing development projects. See a before and after photo of the Rancho Mirage community.
“Many of these homeowners saved their whole careers for a dream home on a golf course. And they bought their homes with a covenant specifically designed to prevent this kind of abuse,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. The complaint states that one of the homeowners is a career firefighter, while another was a decorated Army general.
According to the complaint, the homeowners of Rancho Mirage Country Club are disproportionately elderly and living on fixed incomes. More than 25 percent of them are legally handicapped.
“These homes came with a covenant designed to prohibit development on the golf course, and these developers tried to circumvent that covenant by running the property into the ground.” said Berman. “Rancho Mirage Country Club homeowners have been nothing short of robbed, and we believe they deserve retribution.”
The complaint alleges that the homeowners have suffered $32 and $39 million in diminished value, all for the purpose of making them give up their rights.
The developers have reportedly retaliated against homeowners who have taken legal action in the past. The complaint states that Richards and Schlesinger dumped five tons of raw feces next to homes of residents who brought claims against their development, creating class-five air pollution – making it impossible to breathe without gagging.
“Richards and Schlesinger have received more than $100,000 in sanitary and aesthetic municipal fines in their campaigns against homeowners, which they routinely pay without changing their tactics. To them, that is just the cost of doing business. And doing business means getting homeowners to relinquish rights under their covenants,” the complaint states.
The suit seeks damages for loss of value to residents’ homes in an amount to be proven at trial, loss of their nonpossessory interest in the golf course, loss of quiet enjoyment of their homes and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
# # #
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a national consumer-rights class-action law firm with a track record of aiding homeowners against neglect and other forms of residential harm. Hagens Berman successfully represented more than 1,000 elderly homeowners against California-based Shea Homes for its deceptive practices, delivering swift recovery to damaged homeowners. The firm has offices in 10 cities and has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.