Court Dismisses 8 out of 9 Causes in the Golden Eagle/Mabee Trust Lawsuit

December 14, 2015
Contact: RSF Association, 858-756-1174
On December 8, 2015, the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, dismissed eight out of nine Causes of Action in a lawsuit filed by Golden Eagle Land Investment LP and the Mabee Family Trust against the Rancho Santa Fe Association. The lawsuit alleged that the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board violated their rights as owners under the Association Bylaws and California’s Open Meeting Act, and that the Board further breeched its fiduciary duty in the process.

[related_content]The lawsuit involves the large parcel of land on the northeast corner of Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle. Once intended for a large horse facility by Larry Mabee, the proposed plan for the property is to change the land use to a higher-density “step-down housing” development known as Rancho Librado.

The Association sent a letter in May to the County of San Diego asking the county to enforce the existing General Plan “at this time.” The court found the Association’s letter to have been constitutionally protected speech and the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing at trial.

In response to the lawsuit, the Association filed a special “Anti-Slapp” motion to strike the entire complaint. An Anti-Slapp motion provides for the defendant (the Association, in this case) to seek a quick dismissal of meritless causes of action that are based on constitutionally protected activity, including free speech and expression on issues of public interest. Once dismissed, these causes of action can not be amended or re-filed.

The court did not dismiss the first cause of action for alleged violation of the Open Meeting Act, ruling that board meetings are not protected activity. The plaintiffs asserted that the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board action was not sufficiently identified on the noticed agenda and was in violation of the “Open Meeting Act” in the Civil Code. In making this finding, the judge did not rule on whether this cause of action has any merit, merely that it is not subject to this type of motion to strike.

The RSF Board believes that the entire complaint should have been dismissed, and is evaluating various options for resolving the lawsuit in its entirety.


Click here, here, or here for background information and previous coverage surrounding the Rancho Librado case.