Toluca Lake Property Owner's Association vs. Haberman


    This matter was tried to a defense verdict on the cross-complaint by David McCann. When the defendant Haberman, a member of the Toluca Lake Property Owner's Association stopped paying her dues, the Property Owner's Association filed an action for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, seeking to obtain nearly $34,000 in unpaid dues, penalties and interest.

    In turn, Ms. Haberman filed a cross-complaint against the association and one of its members of the Board of Directors premised upon conversion, and as against a neighbor for assault. The cross-complaint against the association and Ms. Edwards set forth causes of action for conversion (which included a claim for punitive damages), negligence, breach of implied contract, violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200, and unjust enrichment. The claims against the neighbor were for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Yoka & Smith represented the association and the board member on the cross-complaint.

    The case was tried to a jury in Glendale beginning on August 24, 2004. The trial lasted one week and ultimately the jury found as follows:

    1. Although the jury found a contract to have been existed between the association and Ms. Haberman for the payment of the dues, and although the jury found Ms. Haberman breached the contract, the jury found the association had failed to adequately prove any harm, and hence it awarded $0 to the association. (However, the association prevailed on its claim for unjust enrichment and obtained a verdict in the amount of the past dues owed.

    2. With respect to the cross-complaint against the association and Ms. Edwards, the jury found:

    a. The association and Ms. Edwards had converted the property and they were negligent, however, the jury unanimously that Ms. Haberman's claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

    b. The jury found that no contract was formed between the association/Edwards and Haberman.

    c. The court granted Yoka & Smith's motion for nonsuit on the 17200 claim.

    d. The court entered a verdict in favor of the cross-defendants on Ms. Haberman's unjust enrichment claim.

    3. The jury found there was no assault by the neighbor.


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