Updated: Eskaton case set for Dec. 8; class action suit delayed until at least March | TheUnion.com

Updated: Eskaton case set for Dec. 8; class action suit delayed until at least March

One of the plaintiffs in the Eskaton Village Grass Valley lawsuit may proceed to trial this December, though a judge has delayed a related class action in the case until at least next year.

The lawsuit, which plaintiff Ronald Coley said he intends to take to trial on Dec. 8 in Sacramento Superior Court, stems from claims by Eskaton homeowners Coley and Karen Lorini of financial elder abuse, unfair business practices and negligence.

Eskaton officials dispute the claims, saying at a Wednesday homeowner meeting that many residents are happy with the amount they pay for the services provided.

One resident, who declined to be named, called the fees “reasonable.”

Additionally, Eskaton officials added they lose money on the Grass Valley development by providing services at below cost.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating for everyone,” Eskaton CEO Todd Murch said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of lawyers making a lot of money.”

Murch is a defendant in the case, as is COO Betsy Donovan, Eskaton Village Grass Valley, Eskaton Properties Inc. and Eskaton Village Grass Valley Homeowners Association.

Some members of the homeowners association on Wednesday pressed Murch on how they’d benefit from the suit, or alternatively, how the association could escape the litigation.

Murch and Donovan said those were questions for the plaintiffs. Murch noted, however, that Eskaton had made two settlement offers in which it offered to pay the association’s legal fees.

Both offers have since been rescinded, Murch said, adding that legal fees have likely doubled.

Coley said Eskaton knew about the complaints before he filed suit. He pointed to a resolution brought before the homeowners association board in October 2013 that details potential conflict of interest.

According to Coley, Eskaton officials who serve on the board should abstain from voting on issues in which they have a financial interest, or that their votes not count.

The resolution failed to pass. Coley and Lorini filed suit the following year.

In August Coley filed a motion asking to accelerate the proceedings, stating his health was at risk.

Murch said a judge agreed with Coley, and separated his case from Lorini and the class action. More preparation is required for the class action suit, which will be delayed until at least March.

“Anything in the legal arena is a laborious process,” Murch added.

In an unrelated issue, a union of Eskaton Village Grass Valley employees is scheduled to vote by Monday on disbanding.

Employees voted in June 2014 to form a union, said Larry King, with Eskaton Village Grass Valley campus patrol. Murch said an employee opted this year to attempt the decertification of the union.

The by-mail ballots are due Monday, and officials will certify the election Wednesday, King said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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