Hagens Berman: Rancho Mirage Homeowners Sue Developers for Violating Covenant, Bullying

Lawsuit claims developers bullied homeowners by destroying the
adjacent golf course, erecting chain-link fences around their
neighborhood, and dumping five tons of raw manure near homes

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A group of Rancho Mirage, California homeowners has filed a lawsuit
in California Superior Court against real estate developers, Ronald
Richards and Michael Schlesinger
, alleging that the defendants
bullied elderly homeowners and depressed their property values in order
to make them relinquish their rights to the neighboring golf course,
according to Hagens Berman.

The complaint, filed by the Los Angeles branch of nationwide
class-action firm Hagens Berman, details the aggressively bad-faith
retaliation tactics taken by Richards and Schlesinger in multiple
communities, including dumping five tons of raw manure next to the homes
of residents who resisted their development project in Escondido,

It alleges that Richards and Schlesinger routinely purchase golf courses
inside residential communities and then destroy the courses in order to
drive down surrounding property values. That way, they are able to
pressure the elderly neighbors into allowing development projects. See a before
and after photo of the Rancho Mirage community

“Many of these homeowners saved their whole careers for a dream home on
a golf course. And they bought their homes with a covenant specifically
designed to prevent this kind of abuse,” said Steve Berman, managing
partner of Hagens Berman. The complaint states that one of the
homeowners is a career firefighter, while another was a decorated Army

According to the complaint, the homeowners of Rancho Mirage Country Club
are disproportionately elderly and living on fixed incomes. More than 25
percent of them are legally handicapped.

“These homes came with a covenant designed to prohibit development on
the golf course, and these developers tried to circumvent that covenant
by running the property into the ground,” said Berman. “Rancho Mirage
Country Club homeowners have been nothing short of robbed, and we
believe they deserve retribution.”

The complaint alleges that the homeowners have suffered $32 and $39
million in diminished value, all for the purpose of making them give up
their rights.

The developers have reportedly retaliated against homeowners who have
taken legal action in the past. The complaint states that Richards and
Schlesinger dumped five tons of raw feces next to homes of residents who
brought claims against their development, creating class-five air
pollution – making it impossible to breathe without gagging.

“Richards and Schlesinger have received more than $100,000 in sanitary
and aesthetic municipal fines in their campaigns against homeowners,
which they routinely pay without changing their tactics. To them, that
is just the cost of doing business. And doing business means getting
homeowners to relinquish rights under their covenants,” the complaint

The suit seeks damages for loss of value to residents’ homes in an
amount to be proven at trial, loss of their nonpossessory interest in
the golf course, loss of quiet enjoyment of their homes and intentional
infliction of emotional distress.

Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a national consumer-rights
class-action law firm with a track record of aiding homeowners against
neglect and other forms of residential harm. Hagens Berman successfully
represented more than 1,000 elderly homeowners against California-based
Shea Homes
for its deceptive practices and faulty construction,
delivering swift recovery to damaged homeowners. The firm has offices in
10 cities and has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’
Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be
found at www.hbsslaw.com.
Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.


Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
Ashley Klann, 206-268-9363