Rockery Wall Litigation Status

By now all Somersett owners have received a mail packet from the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) providing information on the proposed lawsuit against Somersett Development Company, et. al. regarding SOA Common Area rockery wall defects.

In the SOA’s Attorney letter contained therein, the stated benefit for filing the case “is the recovery of funds to correct construction deficiencies in the Walls at the Association”. However, the Attorney letter does not detail the specific allegations against the defendants. A summary of these allegations is contained in SU’s previous post of February 5th entitled “Rockery Wall Defect Litigation”, or for the more legal minded, copies of the entire “Complaint for Damages” by the SOA and the “Notice of Claims” against the Defendants, as filed with the 2nd Judicial Court of Nevada, may be accessed via the following links:

Case No. CV17-02427 Complaint for Damages

NRS Chapter 40 Notice of Claims

Both the Attorney letter and the Court filing documents reference a rockery wall inspection report performed under contract to the SOA by American Geotechnical, Inc. as one of the bases for filing of the lawsuit. American Geotechnical states that “Our preliminary evaluation indicates that each of the rockery walls observed has pervasive construction related defects”. This report may be viewed in its entirety on the SOA website (www.soa.net) under the SOA/SOA Documents/Rockery Wall Evaluation links (requires login), or on this website via the following:

American Geotechnical Report

The American Geotechnical report outlines deficiencies observed in each of the SOA’s Common Area rockery walls. A series of maps contained in Appendix A to the report shows the location of each Common Area rockery wall along with size parameters and any observed deficiencies with the following descriptors:

A = Height of Wall
B = Face Batter (receding slope of wall face)
C = Inadequacy of chinking rock and/or excessive voids (voids in excess of 6 inches without filler rocks)
D = Drain rock and/or retained soil spilling through voids
E = Horizontal distance between tiers (distance between multi-tiered rockery walls)
F = Poor rock placement or shape of individual rocks
L = Lineal footage of wall

Owners interested in the data for rockery walls adjacent to their properties may do so by accessing the appropriate report map.

The Attorney letter estimates that legal fees and associated expert costs will be between $200K and $550K over a 2 to 4-year period. At $550K this would equate to approximately $176/owner. A small price to pay if successful. This given the $2.5M currently being spent by the SOA and potential high costs for future rockery wall replacement, repair or maintenance. Statute of limitations and what constitutes a construction defect under NRS Chapter 40 are likely to be argued.

To explain the above, an Owner Informational Meeting has been scheduled for Saturday March 10th at The Club at Town Center. If possible, owners are encouraged to attend this meeting to obtain clarifications on the lawsuit and answer any questions they may have prior to submitting their ballots to either RATIFY or NOT TO RATIFY filing of the lawsuit

Opinions welcomed!

Note that the above referenced documents were obtained as public records within the Washoe County District Court System under Case No. CV17-02427.

7 thoughts on “Rockery Wall Litigation Status

  1. The success of the litigation will depend heavily on how much insurance coverage is left for the entities that are being sued. There may be individual groups of plaintiffs suing over settlement or movement of their homes. For such a massive failure, the potential exhaustion of insurance funds would render a victory meaningless. I cannot attend the meeting but someone should ask the Board to discuss this.

  2. Since it seems that we will receive no benefit from the lawsuit and only have a liability to pay for Somersett’s legal expenses, shouldn’t our Board of Directors advise us not to vote to approve proceeding with legal action?

  3. My additional concern is that there are no limits on the legal fees for this potential lawsuit. I believe this law firm has been representing the HOA since its inception even when the developer was in charge of the board. They could represent the board and only take a fee if successful. My vote would be to seek an opinion from an alternate law firm to see if the legal fees could be minimized.

  4. I posted this earlier, before the SU commentary

    Received my ballot – to approve the funds for litigation (or deny)… The estimate is $300K .. $500K.

    This is a Chapter 40 issue, just like the suit brought by Somersett Development on behalf of the Owners Association to repair the “cutting” on Somersett Parkway up to Roundabout 1. The issue here was that boulders were falling down and autos were in danger of being hit (amongst other things) … It seems that the idea with Chapter 40 is to ensure that all responsible parties are embroiled in the action, seeking those with insurance or deep pockets (and not in bankruptcy).

    Given the fact that we will spending over $2,000,000 on rebuilding Rockery walls … assuming that the legal team have done their due diligence, that there is a solvent responsible party around (or their insurance company)) – voting Yes (even reluctantly) is a no-brainer.

    The question really is, when we get back some of our costs, will our dues be reduced, will some of the loan paid down!

    Don’t plan on spending any resultant windfall, as the action will take at least 5 years.

  5. Somersett has had two legal firms. When under developer (Blake Smith) control, the firm was Maddox. After the all-owner board was elected, Maddox was out and Schulman in.

    There will be no alternate law firm. The cat is out of the bag and the law suit has already been filed. Too late and besides the Board has no interest in switching law firms. There aren’t very many law firms in Nevada that can handle a suit of this magnitude. I believe Schulman is tops in construction defects.However, that is beyond should there be any suit it the first place; and what are the chances of a win; and what is the best way for owners to now vote, Ratify or Not to Ratify.

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