One of the heroes of our movement, Dr. Gary Solomon, has won a round in his own battle against an out-of-control HOA in Nevada. It involved an idiotic fine of $100 so he tried to get it heard in Small Claims Court, where it really belongs. That court kicked him upstairs to District Court which really has no business hearing 100 dollar claims. After two years, Solomon has won the right to take the case back to Small Claims. Here’s the decision:
12/09/2014 3:00 AM
– This is an appeal from a Small Claims Judgment entered in the Las Vegas Township Justice Court. By this Judgment filed May 5, 2014, the court found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this case, and that it had to be filed in District Court instead. This case involves a fine of $100 imposed by Respondent Palm Hills Home Owners Association (the HOA ). Petitioner Dr. Solomon ( Solomon ) disputed the imposition of the fine. It appears that a lien was placed by the HOA against the subject property as well. Pursuant to NRS 38.310, because this dispute involved the interpretation, application or enforcement of the community’s CC&R s, the dispute first had to be submitted to arbitration or mediation with the Nevada Real Estate Division ( NRED ). Solomon filed a complaint with NRED which resulted in a ruling in favor of the HOA and against Solomon. The arbitrator also awarded the HOA $7348.17 for attorney s fees and costs incurred. Pursuant to NRS 38.330(5), within 30 days after the final decision and award in this nonbinding arbitration, Solomon was permitted to commence a civil action in the proper court concerning the claim which was submitted for arbitration. This action would be a de novo proceeding. Solomon filed this case in Small Claims Court in the Las Vegas Justice Court. The Justice Court found it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the case, holding that NRS Chapter 38 . . . requires that such disputes be adjudicated in District Court. However, nothing in chapter 38 specifies that this de novo proceeding must be filed in District Court. Moreover, the case the HOA relies on, Hamm v. Arrowcreek Homeowners Association, 124 Nev. 290, 183 P.3d 895 (2008), does not address the question of jurisdiction as between district court and justice court. The HOA also argues that the lower court lacked jurisdiction pursuant to NRS 4.370(2) because this is an action in which the title of real property . . . [is] involved. However, in the Hamm case, the Nevada Supreme Court held that even a dispute about HOA fines where a party sought to release a lien imposed does not relate to title to the property. Additionally, while the HOA disputes whether Solomon ever held title to the property at issue in this case, this defense of the HOA is not to be considered in evaluating subject matter jurisdiction, which instead is based on an evaluation of the face of the complaint. The fact that the HOA may challenge Solomon s ability to proceed as a real party in interest does not deprive the court of subject matter jurisdiction. Thus, this case in which Solomon filed a small claims complaint for less than $7500 was properly filed in Small Claims Court and that court s dismissal was in error. Accordingly, the Small Claims Judgment is hereby reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Court s ruling. CLERK’S NOTE: The above minute order has been distributed to: Gary Solomon, 1001 Calico Ridge Dr., Henderson Nv. 89011, & Troy Dickerson (Angius & Terry) 1/28/15 kr
Well, there you have it. The court tried to favor the HOA and got busted.
I hope to hear the small claims court awards Dr. Solomon the $7,500 + interest + court costs just out of principle for time and anguish he has been put through. If anybody will be able to nail an HOA in the courtroom this is the guy that can do it! If the HOA now decides to offer a settlement I hope he will pass on that, too! Best of luck, Gary!
It would be interesting to read NRED’s rationale for their decision in the forced arbitration. But I believe none of that information is part of the public record?
I’ve see cases like this before, where the jurisdiction and venue is called into question. Best of luck to Dr. Solomon, he’s a smart guy. Maneuvering through the judicial system is difficult, but Solomon has figured it out. Good Job!
so the bottom line is, he’s STILL NOT OUT OF COURT on the $100.
Isn’t the goal to bleed the owner (or former owner) dry with accumulated legal fees?
Actually the legal cost now is used to scare the homeowner so they just pay. It is an act of ignorance to purchase a home with a homeowners association. Even if the HOA was good to most, one individual dislike and you are subject to rabid attacks and unjust fines usually with no recourse than leave and losing most of your investment in the building.