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January 2011

San Diego Team Obtains Summary Judgment in Complex Fiduciary Duty/Property Sale Matter

San Diego Partner Charles Berwanger and Senior Counsel Jill Raffee obtained Summary Judgment on behalf of a ranch owners association and its board of directors. In his opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff conceded that his causes of action for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and slander/libel were without merit.

In his third cause of action, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Directors breached a fiduciary duty to Plaintiff by obstructing the efforts of the majority of owners to sell the ranch. According to Plaintiff, "Defendant Directors owed a fiduciary duty to plaintiff not to exercise their powers to gain pecuniary benefit for themselves and advance their own personal interests by causing plaintiff harm." However, the Court noted that the sale of the Ranch is currently pending, "arguably undermining the thrust of this cause of action." The Court went on to find that Plaintiff's purported damages were unsupported by evidence and granted summary judgment on the breach of fiduciary duty cause of action.

In his fifth cause of action, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' foreclosure of his interests in the ranch amounted to a "taking and conversion of owners property for defendants own use." However, Defendants presented evidence that Plaintiff was delinquent in his monthly assessments, which gave the association the right to initiate foreclosure proceedings. Summary judgment was granted on this final cause of action as well.

Charles V. Berwanger



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