LAS VEGAS (CN) – Homeowners’ associations conspired to use straw purchasers to wrest control of their boards of directors, and hired attorneys “who were also part of the conspiracy” to file construction-defect lawsuits in which co-conspirator contractors made inadequate repairs, a class action claims in Clark County Court.
“Once the lawsuits were brought, defendants conspired to pay construction contractors to make superficial repairs that did not address the real underlying defects in the buildings,” according to the complaint.
Lead plaintiff Kimberly Karol sued 11 people, at least one contractor, eight named HOAs, and other Roe HOA’s, property management companies and others.
Since 2006, defendants “set up a variety of corporations or companies in order to purchase various units in the communities known as Chateau Versailles, Sunset Cliffs, Palmilla, Vistana, Terrasini, Chateau Nouveau, Park Avenue and Pebble Creek,” the complaint states.
“Co-conspirators would then transfer fractional interests to straw purchasers in order to allow these purchasers to run for HOA board elections.”
The complaint states: “The straw purchaser defendants would then run for election to the HOA board at their respective community, and once elected, breached their fiduciary duty to the homeowners by accepting from co-conspirators compensations, gratuities and other remuneration that improperly influenced, or reasonably appeared to influence, their decisions, resulting in a conflict of interest. After being elected to the board and accepting payments from co-conspirators, the straw purchaser defendants then voted in a manner directed by and favorable to the co-conspirators, including voting to hire a law firm and construction company designed by the co-conspirators to handle legal and construction work at the condominium.”
Defendants David Amesbury and his law firm “then gave access to the supposedly ‘legitimate’ election ballots in order to further the conspiracy and manipulate the outcome of the HOA board elections,” the complaint states.
The class claims the defendants manipulated votes to award construction contracts to defendants Silver Lining Construction, Platinum Community Services and a third unknown property management company, and then “retain attorneys whom were also part of the conspiracy.”
The class claims that defendant attorney Nancy Quon “would then litigate alleged construction defect suits against the contractors responsible for building the defective buildings, then ultimately attempted to settle out of court for millions of dollars.”
Defendant Leon J. Benzer and Silver Lining Construction “would then do very minor and superficial repairs on the home and distribute the settlement money to other co-conspirators,” the complaint states.
The class claims the superficial repairs hurt homeowners’ property values “due to a combination of negative publicity, which left a negative stigma on their properties, issues with the title of their home, and the diminution of the values of their home by at least 5 percent due to the instigation of frivolous construction defect lawsuits.”
Plaintiff Karol owns a condo in the community known as Vistana. Co-plaintiff Louise Mumby owns a condo in the Chateau Nouveau community.
Defendants Darryl Scott Nichols, Marcella Z. Triana, Angela Esparza, Daniel J. Solomon and Steven Wark are accused of acting as “straw purchasers” who ran for HOA board elections.
Defendants Mary Ann Watts, Deborah Genato and Denise Keser were community and property managers for the various communities accused of participating in the scheme, according to the complaint.
Leon J. Benzer, a HOA board member, is accused of awarding construction contracts to defendant Silver Lining Construction.
Plaintiffs seek punitive damages for conspiracy and negligence.
They are represented by Matthew Q. Callister.