Litigation Team Prevails in Action Against Defiant Homeowners; Verdict Shines New Light on Right To Install Solar Panels in Private Communities
Following a two-week trial that tested the California Solar Rights Act and the rights of homeowners associations (HOA) to control the installation of solar panels, a jury in the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles found in favor of the plaintiff, Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Association, which was represented by Greenberg Glusker. The dispute centered on the refusal of a homeowner to remove solar panels, which were installed in violation of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) of the Valencia private community.
Greenberg Glusker litigator Ricardo P. Cestero represented the association. Cestero is a well-respected business litigator and courtroom advocate with extensive experience not only in real estate matters but also in anti-SLAPP and first amendment actions. He previously won an $11 million judgment in a defamation and civil extortion lawsuit involving dancer and entertainer Michael Flatley of “Lord of the Dance” and “Riverdance” fame.
“This verdict is a vindication of the right of homeowners associations to protect the communities they manage and to balance the need for renewable energy with the integrity of their communities,” said Cestero.
The case addressed the reach of the 1978 California Solar Rights Act, which limits the ability of HOAs to stop solar panel installations by homeowners. The last published court decision involving the Act was Palos Verdes Home Association v. Rodman, 182 Cal. App. 3d 324 (1986). Updates to the Act have been made in the more than twenty years since that decision and the Tesoro del Valle verdict will help clarify the scope of HOA authority in this area.
During the trial, Greenberg Glusker litigators demonstrated that the homeowner defendants ignored the HOA’s denial of their application to install 300-square feet of solar panels close to a public sidewalk, and then refused to comply with several subsequent requests to cease and desist. While the HOA had allowed other homeowners in the 1,100-home community to install solar panels, the defendants’ installation was rejected for reasons of safety and aesthetics.
“Disputes involving solar panels and ‘greening’ measures are an area that HOAs and the courts are increasingly required to address in Southern California,” said Lee A. Dresie, who chairs Greenberg Glusker’s Litigation Group. “This verdict is an important victory for our client and underscores the importance of expert and experienced counsel in conflicts between HOAs and homeowners.”
About Greenberg Glusker’s Litigation Group
Greenberg Glusker’s trial lawyers have extensive experience representing individuals, partnerships and companies of all sizes in federal and state court, before arbitration tribunals and in other dispute resolution forums. The Group’s attorneys have an unmatched reputation in handling high-profile and high-stakes litigation arising in entertainment, real estate and intellectual property.
The Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Association case is just one of several jury trials Greenberg Glusker has successfully handled during the past 12 months. Other cases include:
City of New York vs. Exxon Mobil Corporation. Greenberg Glusker obtained a $104.7 million damage award against Exxon Mobil for poisoning NYC’s groundwater and drinking water supply with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
Seyedan vs. Ebrahimi. Greenberg Glusker obtained a $9.3 million judgment on behalf of its client, a Los Angeles bookkeeper, against her former real estate investment partner, determining that several parcels of real property were owned jointly by the client and the real estate investment.
Grinstein v. Barriga. Greenberg Glusker prevailed in a jury trial concerning the guarantee of commercial property in downtown Los Angeles. The Firm’s client was then awarded 100 percent of the fees incurred in handling the matter.