Archive for January, 2016

Judge orders halt to Berkeley co-op litigation as settlement deadline nears

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

An Alameda County Superior Court judge today ordered a halt to litigation activities in two complex lawsuits involving a Berkeley senior housing cooperative.

Attorneys representing Berkeley Town House, a 60-unit co-op apartment building near the U.C. Berkeley campus, and 8 current and former members of the co-op, appeared in court and by telephone before Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr., to report progress in efforts to settle the lawsuits, which include claims of wasted funds, defective construction, earthquake hazards, violations of co-op members’ rights, and breach of contract. They informed Hernandez that the settlement terms had been orally agreed to in mid-December with the aid of mediator David J. Meadows in a session lasting more than 12 hours.

The attorneys reported that the settlement would require the co-op board’s approval by 15 February and then the court’s approval after co-op members had an opportunity to express their opinions about the terms. Hernandez confirmed that, because of the representative nature of some claims in these cases (with the plaintiff claiming to sue on behalf of the co-op itself), the court’s approval would be a necessary condition of a settlement going into force.

Hernandez told the attorneys to return to court on 25 February, after the board’s approval deadline, and ordered the parties until then to suspend their discovery activities and any motions they intended to file.

Berkeley co-op litigants reveal settlement deadline

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Litigants in a complex lawsuit involving a Berkeley senior housing cooperative filed a joint statement on Thursday telling the court that they have given themselves a 15 February deadline to finalize a voluntary settlement.

The litigation was started in March 2012 by Jonathan Pool, a member and resident of Berkeley Town House, a nine-story, sixty-unit co-op near the U.C. campus. Pool sued 8 officials and former officials of the co-op for allegedly wasting $224,000 in corporate funds on illegal and defective repairs to the co-op’s building, neglecting warnings that the building might be seismically unsafe, and violating various financial-responsibility, open-meeting, freedom-of-information, election, and other governance mandates.

In their joint case management statement, attorneys for Pool, the co-op, and 7 of the defendants said that without the settlement the litigation would involve numerous contested procedural motions and factual and legal issues.

According to the statement, the prospective settlement will not go into effect unless it is finalized and then approved by a vote of the co-op’s board of directors by 15 February, then receives the preliminary approval of Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr., and finally, after the members of the co-op are notified of the terms of the settlement and permitted to submit comments on it to the court, receives Hernandez’s final approval.

The statement said that the tentative settlement terms had emerged from 14 hours of negotiation on 15 December with the help of Oakland mediator David J. Meadows, but did not disclose any of the terms.

Berkeley co-op litigants declare truce as settlement nears

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Three sides in a complex lawsuit involving a Berkeley senior housing cooperative asked the judge today to order a moratorium on all litigation activity while they work on settling the case according to terms brokered by a mediator on 15 December.

Attorneys for Berkeley Town House, a nine-story, sixty-unit co-op near the U.C. campus; Jonathan Pool, a member and resident of the co-op; and seven other current and former co-op members who had been on its board of directors; filed a joint stipulation asking Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr., to halt all discovery and further motions in the case.

Pool brought the suit against the seven other members and an ex-manager of the co-op in March 2012, claiming they had paid over $200,000 in corporate funds to an illegal contractor for botched construction work, neglected warnings of seismic weaknesses in the co-op building, and violated dozens of legal rights enjoyed by rank-and-file members.

In their stipulation, the parties reported that they had “reached a tentative settlement through mediation before David J. Meadows, Esq., which settlement requires preparation and completion of mutually acceptable written terms” approved by all the parties, their insurers, and the court. Meanwhile, they wrote, “the parties have respectively prepared and/or served and received complex sets of written discovery and pleadings requiring extensive, costly and time consuming responses”, and Pool “has prepared a supplemental complaint”.

The three sides asked the court to order a stop to further litigation while they try to make the tentative settlement final. They agreed to cooperate in the scheduling of resumed litigation in the event that their settlement efforts fail.

Settlement reported in 4-year Berkeley co-op lawsuit

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Statements filed this week in Alameda County Superior Court reported major progress toward a settlement of two lawsuits dating back to early 2012 involving a Berkeley senior housing cooperative.

Moji Saniefar, an attorney for Jonathan Pool, a shareholder of Berkeley Town House Cooperative Corporation, which owns and operates a 60-unit senior housing facility near the University of California campus, wrote that Pool and the co-op had “reached a tentative settlement” of Pool’s 2012 lawsuit against 8 officials of the corporation and the corporation itself, as well as a related 2015 suit. The progress toward a settlement was described as a “settlement in principal” by David L. Jordan, an attorney for 7 former directors named as defendants in both lawsuits.

According to the attorneys, the settlement progress was achieved during mediation on 15 December by mediator David J. Meadows of Oakland. Neither attorney’s statement disclosed any settlement terms.