SOA 2012 Legal Fees in Perspective


Submitted by Jim Haar  –  SOA Board Candidate

At the  “Meet the Candidate Night”, Board Candidate Dave Hughes stated that “we need not to be spending $40,000/year in legal fees on items being brought to the Board by a small group of people … a waste of money”.  I contend that this was an inappropriate and misinformed comment for the following reasons:

  • Every homeowner has the right to bring issues/complaints before the Board, have them placed on the Board Agenda and request a response.  If they feel that Board response is inadequate and that their homeowner rights have been violated, they have a further right (per Nevada Law) to file an Intervention Affidavit with the Ombudsman’s Office of the Nevada Real Estate Division for Common Interest Communities.  What may be considered frivolous to some (as Mr. Hughes would suggest) is serious business to others.


  • The $40,000 of legal fees that Mr. Hughes subscribed to this “Small Group” (interpret as Somersett United) was a mistatement of facts.  A request for all legal fees paid by the SOA to its  attorney (Maddox & Associates) resulted in the following tabulation through the first seven months of 2012.
  1. Summit Engineering & Moana Litigation               $ 8,792
  2. Homeowner Claims                                                     $ 11,191
  3. General Counsel                                                          $ 12,406
  4. Collections                                                                         $ 945
  5. Developer Board Control                                              $ 1320
  6. 2012 Election                                                                    $ 358
  7. SGCC Lease Agreement                                               $ 1,565
  8. TCTC Pool Solar Cover                                                  $ 303
  9. SDC Subsidy Agreement                                               $ 690


The above totals $37,570, which I assume is the $40,000 Mr. Hughes was referring to.  However, only Items 5 through 9, which total $4,176, can be subscribed to Board agenda issues brought forth  by this “Small Group”.   As one can readily see, Items 1, 2 (which represent individual homeowner claims unrelated to generic issues), 3 and 4 make up the vast majority of the SOA legal fees.

As a further point of information, legal fees paid by the SOA for the three-year period 2009 – 2011 totaled $163,313. This, before the existence of the “Small Group” Mr. Hughes alluded to.  All of the above figures  are documented on the SOA website.

As a SOA Board Candidate I fully support homeowners bringing  issues before the Board, either a complaint or otherwise.  The Board is not a dictatorship, to pick and choose what homeowner issues they wish to respond to, but rather a servant of the community.  Obviously, in responding to many of these issues the Board may want to seek legal counsel, a wise approach, which is just a normal part of SOA business.

3 thoughts on “SOA 2012 Legal Fees in Perspective

  1. Yes JIm, it is true that “Every homeowner has the right to bring issues/complaints before the Board, have them placed on the Board Agenda and request a response.”, but I personally do not want a board member representing me who is “sue happy” and uses MY Somersett homeowner dues to hire or consult with lawyers every chance that they get.  If the goal of some members of Somersett United is to eventually “lower our homeowner dues”, I can assure you this is NOT the way to do it. Frivolously wasting MY homeowner money on lawyers is NOT where I want my money spent.

  2. jjkrjk

    Homeowners rights are very important, and most will get referred to legal council for advice by the Board. I own properties and have lived in other Homeowner run communities and I know that all formal complaints are referred tothe boards’ lawyers. This is similar to the approach I took to issues of controversy as a small business owner, always involve your attorney at the beginning, as a result we were only involved in 2 complaints requiring litigation in 17 years.

    I can also tell you that Jim’s complaint to the ombudsman has already led to the “lease’s” modification to cap potential future obligations of the homeowners to the Private Equity Golf Course. In this instance you have already had a “return” (of sorts) on the legal expense ($1565).

    Have you read the “lease agreement”? If you had, you may have been like me, very unhappy in the way it was worded and how much we were paying for the ammenties we were “leasing”, and what poor value for our $ invested this represents. Having been involved in “leasing” things in the business world, I can assure you that this document would never have been approved at any company where I had worked.

    I also want to point out that I do not have an issue with an additional $15 of my General Commons dues being spent on golfing matters. However I have an issue with a document that is so one sided and unfair to all residents. A properly crafted agreement should have been voted on by all residents, and that is one I would vote for and urge my fellow residents to support. Look, we own the Canyon 9, we all pay $15 to buy it and maintain it, we can all use it. We are a golfing community and we all knew that when we bought in. Our CC&R’s actually prohibit us from any activity associated with the SGCC, which we knew when moved here in 2006, so to send them significant monies (in addition to the profit they make on maintaining Canyon 9 for all of us) without a vote is just plain wrong!

    Its only by getting things done right, by having board members who exercise their fiduciary duty to benefit the entire community, will we be able to get the serious business of running Somersett cost effectively and professionally. This will not happen if members of the board are conflicted by being beholden to a private country club, as has happened in the past.

    Geoffrey Brooks

  3. As far as I know the organization by the name of Somersett United has not once sued the Somersett Owners Association. If someone has information to the contrary, please comment here with the court case number or describe what the suit is/was about.

    I would imagine that an owner may have individually filed a suit over a personal issue of his/her own and maybe they happen to be a SU member, but not SU itself.

    It should be noted that in the State of Nevada before an owner can file a suit against an association the State’s dispute settlement process supervised by the Ombudsman’s Office in the Real Estate Division must be followed. Part of that process includes a mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution session conducted by an independent arbitrator or mediator during which time the matter is typically settled with the whole process being a little cost to both sides before any lawsuit big bucks come into play. Needless to say, filing the lawsuit is the last step.

    I have not heard about any board candidate (pro or anti Golf Club Lease Agreement) planning to sue if elected. I do know the current Somersett Board has filed various lawsuits, probably some in the area of owners delinquent in their assessments and that happens in every HOA.

    I suspect the Board turns most every letter it receives from an owner questioning or protesting something over to association counsel without even trying to respond on its own, i.e have the community manager responding to the owner on behalf of the Board.

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