MOBILE HOME SUIT ALLOWED TO GO AHEAD
March 5, 2007 ( Los Angeles Daily News )
A lawsuit alleging mobile home dealers paid kickbacks to park owners for the exclusive right to sell homes there may proceed, a state appellate court ruled. The 2nd District Court of Appeal last week reversed a lower-court decision that threw out the $10.8 million lawsuit brought by Santa Clarita mobile home dealer Charles Redick Jr. against defendant Jonathan T. Trevillyan – an alleged go-between for the dealers and park owners – and 69 others. Attorney Greg Halliday, who represents Trevillyan, said Monday the appellate court reversal was disappointing, and he was considering other legal options.
“We’re deciding whether to take it to the (state) Supreme Court,” he said. When Redick filed a lawsuit alleging an anti-competitive conspiracy, Trevillyan said he could not be sued for doing his job as an attorney for mobile home parks and filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion, which a Los Angeles Superior Court judged granted.
The three-judge appellate panel, however, found some of the allegations against Trevillyan may be struck by the law, but it doesn’t affect the cause for the case. “The principal thrust of the complaint against Trevillyan is he is a part of a conspiracy that in part uses eviction proceedings and inflated or invalid attorney fees to further a scheme to close mobile home parks to only those dealers willing and able to pay for the exclusive right to sell their mobile homes,” the justices wrote.
Attorney William Ramsey, who represents Redick, said he was pleased with the decision, and looked forward to a ruling from another Superior Court judge on the conspiracy case. Redick, owner of SC Manufactured Homes Inc., sued in 2004 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging he was kept out of the market by a scheme of payoffs and evictions between dozens of dealers and mobile home parks from Santa Clarita to Palmdale.
Among the allegations, Redick said he was prevented in 2000 from Placing new homes on five vacant spaces in Parklane Mobile Estates in Canyon Country, though he later found out competitor LC Homes was allowed to sell new homes there. “He didn’t want to do that game,” Ramsey said. “It spreads like a cancer. It’s a terrible problem.”
Trevillyan, described in Redick’s 2004 suit as an Acton lawyer specializing in mobile home park representation, is a part of the scam by helping to evict mobile-home owners, according to Redick’s complaint. The suit claims he also acted as a go-between for select dealers to sell mobile homes at the vacant spaces.
Ramsey said the practice artificially inflated the price of a mobile home. “You’re taking advantage of low- and moderate-income people,” he said. “They can’t afford to spend that extra money.”
Asked about the allegations against Trevillyan, Halliday said: “We deny the allegations of the plaintiff.” Also named in the 2004 lawsuit are the three Boulders mobile home parks owned by the city of Palmdale, though only the parks’ managers are being sued.
“The parks are owned by the city, but they’re run by private companies,” Ramsey said. “The private companies do all these manipulations. “Many of the same people who were doing these things in Santa Clarita are now doing it in the Antelope Valley. … It’s spreading like a cancer.”