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Ramirez and Lai Prevail on Behalf of Homeowners’ Association in Seminal Class Action

December 16, 2019

Jorge Ramirez (Partner-Las Vegas) and I-Che Lai (Associate-Las Vegas) succeeded on a motion to dismiss the remaining class claims in a case before the Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County, Nevada, for their failure to participate in mandatory pre-litigation arbitration/mediation before the real estate division. Jorge and I-Che prevailed on behalf of a homeowners’ association in a case the court certified as a class action and later bifurcated into the two named claimants and the class claims. The named class members tried their respective cases this past summer with one being defeated by directed verdict and the other receiving a verdict that was less than a third of the offer of judgment. This was the first class action to proceed to trial against a homeowners association for their alleged unlawful collection.  Plaintiffs alleged the homeowners association wrongfully collected the super-priority lien amount of the association's lien. Nevada allows the super-priority portion of the lien to take precedence over any and all liens and mortgages. Plaintiffs sought in excess of $1 million for alleged wrongfully collected lien amounts plus punitive damages. The case stemmed from a Nevada Real Estate Division arbitration that included more than 600 homeowners associations. At its de novo trial, the plaintiffs split the arbitration into 130 different cases, this case being one of 20 class action cases. There were some 286 class claimants, some with multiple claims.  Nearly all the companion cases were settled by other firms. The insurer and association decided to fight the case due to the plaintiffs’ refusal to accept a modest settlement.  An award of punitive damages would have bankrupted the homeowners association and probably many of its members. The association’s governing board and its members are grateful for the outstanding work done by Wilson Elser in obtaining the great trial result and dismissal of the class.    

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