An Alameda County Judge today ruled against 7 former directors of a Berkeley senior housing cooperative and sent a breach-of-contract lawsuit against them back to a judge that their attorney had labeled “prejudiced”.
In today’s hearing, Judge Wynne S. Carvill of Alameda County Superior Court announced his decision not to let the lawsuit continue in his court, but left some details open to discussion. David L. Jordan, representing the ex-directors of Berkeley Town House, a 60-unit co-op south of the UC Berkeley campus, proposed that Judge Carvill dismiss the lawsuit entirely. David H. Schwartz, representing plaintiff Jonathan Pool, a co-op member, argued against dismissing or even pausing the case, but instead urged Carvill to invalidate the prejudice claim against the previous judge, George C. Hernandez, Jr., and send the case back to Hernandez.
Later today Carvill ordered what Pool’s attorney had proposed. Carvill ruled the prejudice claim invalid, sent the case back to Hernandez, and dropped an objection of the ex-directors to the lawsuit that Carvill had been scheduled to conduct a hearing on.
During today’s hearing, a stylistic difference between the two attorneys was evident. Schwartz exhibited a quiet, matter-of-fact demeanor, sticking to the questions asked by the judge and dealing mainly with the technical details. Jordan was more expressive and accused Pool of filing an utterly meritless suit imposing extra costs on insurance companies, purely as a pressure tactic in a companion suit. Jordan said he was at a loss to understand any genuine basis for the filing of a new case instead of an amendment of the related case. At one point, Carvill told Jordan he was “muddying the waters” by bringing past actions and alleged motives into a future-oriented discussion of how to dispose of the case.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Almalee Henderson, Judith Wehlau, Charles Tuggle, Katherine Miles, Nancy Epanchin, Raymond Dirodis, and Rita Zwerdling. Pool’s complaint claims they promised to pay $224,415 to the co-op to settle claims in the related lawsuit but broke that promise by getting the co-op to use its own funds to pay their debt.