Member Lawsuit

In 2013 a group of SVCA members sued the Association to define a budget to include both revenue and expenses and to conform to RCW 64.38.025 for ratification of the budget presented by the Board.

The plaintiffs won in Bellingham on April 17, 2013. That decision stated that dues and assessments proposed by the Sudden Valley Community Association must be ratified by membership vote in accordance with the requirements of RCW 64.38.025 and that SVCA is required to submit to its membership for ratification a unified budget proposal that includes both proposed expenditures and proposed revenues in a single measure. It also stated that plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a subsequent hearing.

On June 2, 2013 the Board voted to appeal the decision and then on 6-27-2013 they voted to purchase a bond and write a check to the bond carrier for $250 to cover the supersedeas bond in the amount of $49,422 related to SVCA’s appeal of the lawsuit. Plaintiffs agreed to defer payment of the attorney’s fees to which they were entitled until the outcome of the appeal.

In an advisory measure at the 2013 AGM in November, the members were asked to affirm the Board’s decision to appeal the trial court decision in Casey, et al. v. SVCA.    The measure passed with 449 voters (51.21 percent) approving the measure, while 426 (48.69 percent) voted against it.

The decision was overturned on Appeal and Sudden Valley was entitled to recover attorney’s costs. The petitioners appealed to the Washington Supreme Court, and their payment of legal fees to Sudden Valley was put on hold until the outcome of the appeal.

In correspondence from the Sudden Valley attorney on February 6, 2015, it was conveyed that the Washington Supreme Court denied the petition for review submitted which appealed the Appellate court’s previous ruling, and is now settled law.  The request to be awarded attorney’s fees associated with the Supreme Court filing was denied.  The Petitioner and Respondent are each responsible for their associated costs. Lower court attorney fees to be awarded to the Respondent (Sudden Valley) were determined separately.

At the Feb. 12, 2015 Board meeting, Director McRoberts moved to pursue recovery of legal expenses in the lawsuit. The motion was seconded by Director Brown. The Board voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Sudden Valley was awarded legal fees by the court in the amount of $43,908.81 on March 20, 2015. The supersedes bond of $49,422 was returned from the court on 04/09/2015 and deposited into UDR.

Petitioners were given a payment plan and as of March 2016 the court ordered funds were paid back and returned to the UDR (Undesignated Reserve) fund.

Leslie McRoberts – President, SVCA Board of Directors