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Supreme Court of the State of Washington – Reversing Two Lower Courts!

This is a big one!  Some 20 years after building a golf course near the shores of Lake Roosevelt in Lincoln County, selling residential lots all around it in a self-described “golfing community”, the real estate developers closed the golf course down along with the pro shop, club house and lounge, restaurant and motel, shuttered it and auctioned off the furniture, fixture and equipment.  Left in their residences in the golfing community with no golf course complex, many of the buyers and lot holders banded together and formed the Riverview Community Group, a Washington non-profit corporation.  The group sued the real estate developers.  The group members came to the firm, and when asked what their goal was, replied that they “wanted their community back.”  Without the golf course and its attendant facilities, the community around Deer Heights and Deer Meadows on Lake Roosevelt was deteriorating. 

Charged with restoring the community, seeking and a so-called equitable servitude by estoppel and a mandatory injunction compelling them to re-open the golf course complex.  After one trial court judge refused, a second one dismissed Riverview’s complaint saying equitable servitudes required a writing.  Riverview appealed to the Division I Court of Appeals, which eventually disagreed with the trial judge holding that equitable servitudes may be created without a writing in Washington and that Riverview had standing to sue and the individual homeowners did not have to be made parties to the action.  Nevertheless, the Division III Court of Appeals decided it was not going to afford any relief to Riverview’s members and the Deer Meadows communities.  Riverview sought review from the Washington State Supreme Court, which was accepted and argued in February 2014.

Nine months later, the Washington State Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals on the questions of law presented but reversed it and the trial judge and remanded it back for trial.   “Consistent with its holdings,” the State Supreme Court relied on a number of arcane decisions from sister courts, most specifically and recently from Oregon, where a similar real estate swindle was undone by the court and the developers were required to reopen a golf course and rebuild its amenities.  Boswell Law Firm represented the plaintiffs Riverview Community Group in this case; the real estate developers were represented by Spokane’s Randall Danskin, P.S. and Breskin Johnson & Townsend PLLC of Seattle, Washington.

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