Parties prepare for trial in Berkeley senior co-op suit

Attorneys in a lawsuit involving a Berkeley senior housing co-op have announced plans for the trial and reported continuing efforts at pre-trial settlement.

Parties to a three-year lawsuit involving a Berkeley, California, senior housing cooperative have announced their plans for a trial in court filings during the past week.

The lawsuit involves claims that eight officials of the co-op wasted assets, neglected warnings of seismic risks in the co-op’s nine-story apartment building, and violated rights of the resident shareholders.

After a one-year interruption caused by an appeal of a court order, the litigation is scheduled to resume with a case management conference on 30 July in Alameda County Superior Court.

Preparing for combat

In advance of the conference, attorney Hugh A. Donohoe filed a statement on behalf of Berkeley Town House Cooperative Corporation announcing his intention to file a motion for summary judgment and summary adjudication and other motions. Fred M. Feller, attorney for seven former directors of the corporation, said in his filed statement that he will make a motion to disqualify Jonathan Pool, the plaintiff, from suing Feller’s clients on behalf of the corporation. Attorney David H. Schwartz, representing Pool, wrote in his statement that he intends to file a new complaint seeking “enforcement of a contractual settlement agreement for settlement of the monetary claims”.

Feller, Schwartz, and Donohoe all indicated that they expected to conduct discovery, and Feller announced at the same time that he will conduct an oral examination of Pool on 10 August. All three attorneys said they expected to be ready for a trial within twelve months, and they all asked for a jury trial. Donohoe estimated the trial would last 5 days, Schwartz 8 days, and Feller 10–15 days.

Preparing for peace

Donohoe reported “continuous settlement discussions” between the corporation and Pool. Schwartz confirmed that Pool “continues to believe the non-monetary issues are resolvable by negotiation”. Both Donohoe and Schwartz stated their clients’ willingness to get help from a mediator in settling the case.

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