Owners of Santa Rosa mobile home community ask to move suit over cleanup after wildfires moved to federal court

By Elizabeth Alt | Jul 17, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – Hometown America Management Corp., which owns The Orchard Park mobile community in Santa Rosa, recently filed a motion to transfer to federal court a lawsuit alleging they violated the Mobilehome Residency Law and the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act by charging fees and delaying cleanup after wildfires destroyed many mobile homes in the community.

SAN FRANCISCO – Hometown America Management Corp., which owns The Orchard Park mobile community in Santa Rosa, recently filed a motion to transfer to federal court a lawsuit alleging they violated the Mobilehome Residency Law and the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act by charging fees and delaying cleanup after wildfires destroyed many mobile homes in the community.

Hometown America Management Corp. (Hometown), Hometown America Management L.P., and Hometown America Management LLC filed the motion for removal of the case from the Sonoma County Superior Court to the U.S. District Court for the Northern California of California on June 15 claiming the case is removable under the Class Action Fairness Act “because this is a putative class action involving more than 100 putative class members, the aggregate amount in controversy, excluding interest and costs, exceeds $5,000,000, and there is minimal diversity.”

A complaint filed in May claims that after wildfires in October 201, Hometown has not fulfilled its promise to expedite cleaning and other processes to get people back in their homes, among other claims, and states the delay has made it “financially infeasible” for the residents pay the fees Hometown has requested for cleanup or rent and purchase prices for new homes Hometown will construct. The complaint alleges violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law, violation of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and breach of contract, and seeks declaratory relief. 

The plaintiffs seek to represent a class including “all persons residing in The Orchard Park community in Santa Rosa, California, who, as of Oct. 8, 2017, owned or leased property that was destroyed or damaged in the fire,” and a sub-class including “all persons age 65 or older residing in The Orchard Park community in Santa Rosa, California, who, as of Oct. 8, 2017, owned or leased property that was destroyed or damaged in the fire”.

Hometown states that the plaintiffs claim there are tens of thousands of potential claimants and that “at least one putative class member” lives in California, while Hometown has their principal place of business in Chicago and is a Delaware corporation

The motion states that since the complaint alleges “plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief puts $4,340,000 in controversy,” as well as over $8 million in controversy for declaratory relief “preventing defendants from charging the sub-class certain rents and fees, such as a 50 percent deposit on replacement homes … without even considering the alleged punitive damages or attorneys’ fees, the CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act)  amount in controversy is satisfied.”

Hometown claims that the addition of California resident Dani Crawford as a defendant was fraudulent and the plaintiffs' “intent to fraudulently join Crawford for the sole purpose of attempting to destroy diversity is demonstrated by the complete dearth of any substantive allegations asserted against Crawford.”

The plaintiffs’ complaint seeks punitive, exemplary and other damages, restitution, prejudgment interest, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and court costs.

Hometown is represented by counsel with Maynard Cooper & Gale PC.

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