By Bill Strong
August 16, 2023
This letter demands the Rancho Santa Fe Post correct false and defamatory statements made in the Rancho Santa Fe Post article “When Lawsuits Become Abusive” (Abuse Article) written and published by Phil Trubey on August 4, 2023.
This letter further demands that you publish the correction in substantially as conspicuous a manner in a regular issue of the Rancho Santa Fe Post, as were the August 4, 2023, statements which are claimed to be libelous. If you fail to so act and I (Mr. Strong) pleads and proves notice, demand, and failure to correct, and if my cause of action is maintained, I may recover general, special, and exemplary damages. See Civil Code Section 48a.The gist of the article, “When Lawsuits Become Abusive,” is that Mr. Strong is bringing an “abusive” lawsuit, and for the RSFA Board, “There’s no solution other than to brace yourself for the ordeal.” In support of this false and defamatory claim, the following specific false statements were made in the Article:
1. Unlike other Association lawsuits in living memory, he started his onslaught with voluminous discovery requests, costing the Association significant employee time and money. (This is a false and misleading statement because I (Mr. Strong) started by invoking the RSFA’s Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process, that culminated in a settlement agreement in which the RSFA agreed to direct its auditor to conduct an illegal acts investigation into the Stop Work Order issued by the County of San Diego against the RSFA. I, Mr. Strong, only went to court after the RSFA failed to so direct its auditor and refused to honor the settlement agreement.)
2. Mr. Strong seems to have a hit list of people he dislikes the most and reserves the most personal and obnoxious questions for them. (This is false; no such “hit list” exists.)
3. In his lawsuit, Mr. Strong is attempting to essentially impose new procedures on how the Association is run. (This is false; the lawsuit seeks an order requiring the RSFA Board abide by the settlement contract and direct its auditor to conduct an AU 316 (sic 317) Illegal Acts Investigation regarding the facts and circumstances under which the Stop Work Order issued by San Diego County Code Compliance County Officer Alfonso Colmenero was made on August 13, 2021, and the manner in which the Association Board resolved the alleged violations ** .”)
4. For three years while he was an Association Board member, he wasn’t able to convince his fellow Directors of his organizational brilliance, so forgive me if I think his current lawsuit prescriptions are ill advised. (This is false and misleading. My (Mr. Strong’s) lawsuit has nothing to do with any claimed “organizational brilliance.” The lawsuit seeks an order requiring the RSFA to honor its agreement to direct its auditor to conduct the Illegal Acts Investigation.)
5. The irony, which is completely lost on Mr. Strong, is that the Association has been trying for some time to enact some organizational policy and procedure clean ups but we have been stymied in large part due to the staff time lost and legal counsel distraction imposed on us by dealing with his lawsuit. (This is false. Enforcing the contract in which the RSFA agreed to direct its auditor to conduct the Illegal Acts Investigation is not about policy, it is about enforcing the RSFA’s legal duties.)
6. So, what’s the impact to you? Reduced Association efficiency due to forever lost staff time and personnel, and potentially unrecoverable legal costs, which to date add up to around $100/property. Lost staff time, lost personnel, re-hiring expenses, etc. probably add up to another equal amount. Unfortunately, we are expecting this lawsuit to drag on for a while yet, so expenses will continue to mount. (This is false. This is a contrived effort to shift the blame to me, Mr. Strong, for the consequences caused by the decision illegally to grade 50,000 cubic yards made by some RSFA, Golf Club officials and staff. The RSFA is incurring legal fees because it refuses to direct its auditor to perform what the RSFA agreed to in the settlement agreement.)
7. Unfortunately, public corporations attract lawsuits (merited and unmerited) like barnacles. (This is false. The RSFA is a nonprofit corporation. There is nothing about its corporate status that invited this lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed because the RSFA breached its agreement to direct its auditor to conduct the Illegal Acts Investigation.)
8. It is just unfortunate that this particular lawsuit is being pursued by one of our own Members and in such an abusive manner giving no regard to the negative effect it is having on our Association. (This is false. I, Mr. Strong, is not pursuing the litigation in an abusive manner. Rather, it is out of regard for Mr. Strong’s welfare of the Association and the need to complete the Illegal Acts Investigation that he continues its pursuit.)
9. Many people have asked Board members why we aren’t pushing back on Mr. Strong’s ridiculous claims and emails. The generic answer is the Board is doing their utmost to not give Mr. Strong any cause of action to further harm the Association. We are probably being too cautious, but we are dealing with your money here, so we are generally sucking it up and not doing anything that might find its way into court since that’s where we are headed. (This is false. My (Mr. Strong’s) claim to enforce the settlement agreement is not ridiculous. The RSFA Board has spent over $150,000 to evade its duty to direct its auditor to perform the Illegal Acts Investigation to which it agreed. The RSFA, in refusing to direct the Illegal Acts Investigation, is failing to determine who was responsible for the illegal grading, what damages were caused by the illegal grading and whether the RSFA has claims against those responsible for any damages the illegal grading caused.)
10. As a final thought, it appears that Mr. Strong is somehow actually enjoying this. He had a smile on his face after the August Board meeting when he improperly tried to give me a copy of his ridiculous report. One gets the impression of a man who is obsessed with this lawsuit and works days and nights over it, oblivious to the damage it is causing. (This is false. Mr. Strong is not enjoying the litigation, nor the legal expenses he is forced to incur because of the RSFA’s malconduct. There was nothing improper about Mr. Strong offering a copy of the report, which was prepared to document the illegal acts committed in connection with the unpermitted grading and the resulting cover up. I (Mr. Strong) provided the report to Mr. Trubey and asked him to identify the claimed inaccuracies.)
11. After Mr. Strong gave his member input during the August Board meeting, Board Director Scott Thurman pushed back via his own Member Input. Later on the same day, Mr. Thurman was served with a notice to appear for a deposition in the lawsuit. Since Mr. Thurman (like myself) was not involved with the Association during the timeframe of the lawsuit, it appears that Mr. Strong is using depositions as a way of harassing community members that disagree with him. (This is false. Both Mr. Thurman and Mr. Trubey are deeply involved in the decision not to honor the RSFA agreement to direct the RSFA auditor to conduct the Illegal Acts Investigation. Mr. Strong is not using depositions to harass community members. The depositions are being taken of the those the RSFA is likely to call as witnesses at the trial, and those needed to obtain the evidence needed to prove Mr. Strong’s case.)
In closing, under Civil Code Section 48a(b), if you have not published a correction in substantially as conspicuous a manner in the same news publication, as were the statements claimed herein to be libelous, in a regular issue of the RSF Post within three weeks after receipt, your failure to correct will allow the recovery of general, special, and exemplary damages as set forth in Footnote 1, above.
I am hopeful you will correct the false and libelous statements.