Near-fatal dispute not LOP’s fault |

Near-fatal dispute not LOP’s fault

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Lake of the Pines neighborhood association by the intended target of a murder-for-hire plot in the gated community.

In a June 18 ruling, Nevada County Judge Ersel Edwards wrote, “As a matter of law, defendants cannot be held liable for a third-party homeowner’s solicitation of murder of plaintiff Thomas Wess.”

Wess’ neighbor, William Weismann, is currently serving a five-year sentence after pleading “no contest” to two charges of soliciting Wess’ murder. Weismann was arrested in April 2003 after handing $5,000 to an undercover Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy posing as a hit man.

The suit, which sought $5 million in damages from Lake of the Pines, alleged the neighborhood association’s failure to settle a long-standing property dispute with Weismann “was a substantial contributing cause, if not the sole cause, of William W. Weismann’s solicitation of the murder for hire of plaintiff Thomas R. Wess.”

Weismann moved next door to Wess in 2000. The dispute between the neighbors centered on a pier built on Wess’ property that extended 18 inches onto his neighbor’s land. In court documents, attorneys for Wess stated they had attempted to create an easement that would allow the pier to remain where it was.

The association’s committee that oversees such matters declined to approve the pier the Wesses had constructed. In 2002, a judge ruled the Wesses were entitled to an easement for the part of the pier that extended to the Weismanns’ property.

“This is not a landlord/tenant … situation,” Judge Edwards ruled. “The issue here is not whether the defendants had a duty to protect plaintiffs from third-party criminal violence. … There was no reason to believe that a property owner would hire someone to murder his neighbor.”

Neither Wess nor his attorney returned phone calls from The Union Wednesday. Calls to Lake of the Pine’s administration also went unreturned.

This suit was one of several connected to the murder-for-hire plot.

Wess is also suing Weismann for solicitation of murder. That suit alleges Weismann called Wess a pedophile and child molester in April 2003; he trespassed on Wess’ property and punched Wess in the face in August of that year; and he sledge-hammered and demolished Wess’ rock-planter wall in July 2001.

The man who reported the murder-for-hire plot to authorities is also suing Weismann for emotional damages.

Lou Sans is seeking $250,000 plus compensation for undisclosed doctors’ fees. His suit alleges Weismann’s “conduct was intentional and malicious in that he acted in reckless disregard of the probability of causing (Sans) to suffer mental anguish and severe emotional and physical distress.”

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