Editor’s Note: We congratulate our friends at California Hawiian for this terrific victory. I spoke at this park four years ago as the COMO-CAL President and took the photo at the right. Joan Malone (4th from right) spearheaded this lawsuit against Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS).
Joan and 60 other residents sued ELS for failure to maintain. They used the “go to” attorney group in San Diego – Endemen, Lincoln, Turek, and Heater. Take special note of the awards – $15.3 million in compensatory damages and $95.8 million in punitive damages. We understand ELTH usually receives 40% of all awards.
We wish Joan and the others best of luck with the appeal process. Their efforts help us all and are an example what residents can do if they organize.
The following is a press release by ELS. There had been no press release by Jim Allen at the time we went to print.
Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc. (ELS) (referred to herein as “we,” “us,” and “our”) announces that, as we disclosed on April 15, 2014, a jury in the California Superior Court for Santa Clara County, Case No. 109CV140751, entered a verdict of compensatory damages in the total amount of $15.3 million against our operating partnership in favor of certain plaintiffs who are current or former residents of 42 out of the 418 total sites at our California Hawaiian manufactured home property located in San Jose, California (the “Property”). Yesterday, that same jury entered an additional verdict against our operating partnership of $95.8 million in punitive damages.
Marguerite Nader, our Chief Executive Officer, emphasized that: “We could not disagree more strongly with the jury’s verdicts. We will vigorously seek to overturn them in the trial court or on appeal, including but not limited to asking the trial judge to grant a new trial and to reduce the grossly excessive damages.”
With respect to compensatory damages, no evidence was presented that any plaintiff suffered any physical injury requiring medical attention, and the documentary evidence of repairs to plaintiffs’ homes or property totaled less than $3,000 collectively for all plaintiffs. In addition, approximately 75% of the compensatory damages verdict was awarded as compensation for emotional distress even though there was no evidence that any plaintiff had sought or received attention from any healthcare provider of any kind for emotional distress.
California Hawaiian was developed in the 1960s, and is 100% occupied. The plaintiffs’ complaints included among others various utility outages, which are not uncommon in properties of similar age, which were remedied.
We own or have an interest in 379 quality properties in 32 states and British Columbia consisting of 140,333 sites. We are a self-administered, self-managed real estate investment trust (“REIT”) with headquarters in Chicago.