Archive for March, 2013

Parties to mediate again in Berkeley co-op suit

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Parties in a lawsuit over alleged financial, safety, and governance violations at a Berkeley senior housing cooperative announced on Monday that they will make a second attempt at settling the case at a San Francisco mediation session on 15 April with retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Hodge.

Attorneys for the plaintiff, eight of the nine defendants, and two of the four cross-defendants filed a stipulation in Alameda County Superior Court notifying Judge Steven A. Brick of the agreement to mediate for a second time. Judge Hodge mediated the case once before in June 2012, but the tentative settlement reached then fell apart when the co-op’s insurance company, Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, withdrew its tentative offer to pay for corrections to an allegedly botched construction project that was the focus of part of the suit.

The suit, filed in March 2012 by Jonathan Pool, a resident shareholder of Berkeley Town House, claims that its corporate officials improperly expended over $200,000 on work by Garry Secrest of Danville, for a waterproofing and exterior construction job performed with no license, no insurance, no signed contract, no building permit, and no approval by the board of directors. The suit also claims that co-op officials have neglected warnings of possible seismic hazards in the co-op’s building and have violated numerous legal requirements in their financial management and goverance of the co-op.

Two months after Pool filed the suit, the co-op filed a cross-complaint against Secrest and earlier this month amended its cross-complaint to include Esteban Cardiel, another contractor that was allegedly involved in the Secrest work.

In response to this filing, Judge Brick ordered that a case-management conference scheduled for 2 April be postponed to 18 April, three days after the mediation date.