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News: 01/15/2020

Judge ends suit over golf club sale

A Sonoma County Superior Court judge ruled against former Oakmont Village Association (OVA) president Ellen Leznik in her attempt to challenge an Oakmont election that raised dues so that the OVA could buy the golf courses and hospitality facilities from the Oakmont Golf Club.

Leznik filed a small claims action last August, which asked for a total of $5,943 for various violations of the Davis-Stirling Act, the law which governs condominium, cooperative, and planned unit development communities in California.

Specifically, Leznik alleged that there were violations of Davis-Stirling pertaining to the election process, improper notice of an OVA board meeting, denial of access to OVA records as required by law, and improperly charging opponents of the dues increase, the Oakmont Alliance, $150 to use an OVA meeting space at the East Recreation Center.

Leznik also asked the court to stop the OVA from entering into a financial contract with the Oakmont Golf Club.

In his Dec. 30 decision, Superior Court Judge Allan Hardcastle issued a very brief ruling: “Defendant does not owe plaintiff any money on plaintiff’s claim.”

Under California court rules, a plaintiff in a small claims case is unable to appeal an adverse decision.

“Unfortunately, litigation is very expensive and small claims court affords an opportunity, however limited, to attempt to seek justice at a significantly lower cost,” said Leznik. “Given small claims court’s limitations (such as no appeal right to plaintiffs), such opportunity is quite lacking.”

Leznik said the venue did not give her a chance to ask questions of OVA board president Steve Spanier’s court testimony, which she said she would like to have done.

Spanier cheered the court result.

“Throughout the election, we took care to do things fairly and according to the law, consulting our lawyers at every turn,” said Spanier. “It’s unfortunate we needed to spend the association’s money defending ourselves, since that increases everyone’s dues, but we’re pleased with this outcome. Now, we will finalize purchase of the golf club and get this new decade started on a good note.”

Spanier said he considers this is likely the end of the matter as far as the OVA is concerned. He said that if the judge had ruled on the spot the day of the trial, the OVA was prepared to seek attorneys fees from Leznik, estimated at around $6,000. But, said Spanier, the OVA will “probably just let it be.”

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