Runaway Jury Decision Rejected!

 In Real Estate
1. Huge Victory for Mobile Home Park Owner

The Fourth District Court of Appeal recently overturned a $58 Million Dollar verdict in favor of the mobile home tenants in the case of David Bevis v Terrace View Partners LP, Case D071849-Feb. 28, 2019. In this case, 69 current and former residents of Terrace View Mobile Home Estates in San Diego, sued the park’s owners and management, claiming that they failed to maintain the park “in good working order,” thereby creating a nuisance and that they unreasonably increased space rent, making it difficult or impossible for park residents to sell their mobile homes.

The jury was obviously sympathetic to the individual park residents and came down hard against the owners and managers with not only economic, but non-economic and punitive damages, totaling $58 Million Dollars.

The plaintiffs’ attorney even gloated in an interview after the jury verdict, that one of his witnesses was “just bawling in the witness stand and I could see tears in the jurors’ eyes. The human suffering involved was enormous.” “When the jury came back with enormous compensatory damages, I said, that ‘holy shit, they bought what we were saying. They’re going to give us everything.’”

Fortunately for the park owner and management company, the justices of the Appellate Court did not let emotion sway their decision and made their decision based upon the law. In other words, they “did not buy” into the tears of the witnesses “. . . the record overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the main basis for the jury’s compensatory and punitive damages awards to plaintiffs was the high space rent plaintiffs paid to defendants.” Since the park was not in a rent-controlled jurisdiction, it was permitted as a matter of law to set its own rental rates. The Appellate Court found as a matter of law, that rent paid, even if above market rate, cannot constitute intentional interference with property rights because the rental agreements allowed defendants to charge that amount.

Finally, defendants cannot be held liable for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by implementing rent increases that the party’s rental agreements expressly authorize or were subject to an implied limitation and an objectively determined base.

Comment: Thank God we have Courts of Appeal that can review the facts, evidence, and law, and apply those standards uniformly, consistent with the law of our land. Oftentimes, 12 jurors choose a favorite as to who should win and who should lose based upon everything but the facts and the law.

About the Author

  • Scott Souders
    Scott Souders Attorney & Author


Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.

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