A Summary from the Plaintiffs’ Attorney, Dennis Winters
Brian Schaefgen, Bellwether’s CFO and the Dana Point Harbor Partners’ custodian of records, has been deposed by the boaters’ attorney regarding the records and documents. It was part of the ongoing Class Action litigation. The Harbor Partners produced more documents, and Schaefgen identified them as part of the Partners' records. They include all the surveys of slip rates in Southern California conducted over the last 10 years, which these surveys were used to justify slip prices during the same time. In each survey, until the present management took over, all marinas from San Diego to Santa Barbara were included in the surveys, not just Newport and Huntington Beach, as was used by the present management.
Counsel also had a Discovery Conference with Judge Hurwitz and the DPHP counsel. The good news is the Judge set up a means for Plaintiffs and counsel to get the slip holder mailing list of all boaters. Once that is received, all boaters who want to will be able to receive updates on the progress of the litigation and will be able to get the notices.
The Judge also stopped all parties from doing any discovery, including depositions, until after the hearing on Class Certification in April. While the Plaintiffs’ (boaters’) counsel still intends to conduct depositions of Joe Ueberroth, Bryon Ward, and others, that will have to proceed after April. Since a trial date can’t be set until after the class is certified, it really doesn't cause any real delay and stops the DPHP lawyers from conducting more harassing discovery for the time being.
Therefore, this litigation is moving forward slowly but surely. There is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of expenses involved. The Plaintiffs, counsel, and their supporting parties do not intend to be deterred and expect to prevail.
Dana Point Boaters Association Advocacy on Your Behalf
DPBA recently compiled an additional list of questions in response to Kelly Rinderknecht’s answers to the list of questions presented by concerned boaters. Click here for the list of questions. We asked Supervisor Foley’s office to forward them to DPHP and request a reply, which they did. Instead of getting a response to the questions, the Plaintiffs’ attorney, Dennis Winters, received the below email from DPHP counsel.
“It has come to my attention that Anne Eubanks and possibly others have been sending questions directed at DPHP to OC County (including Alex Rounaghi and Katrina Foley) and demanding that they be answered. In light of the litigation, we have instructed our client not to answer these questions. All communications from Plaintiffs, DPBA, Ms. Eubanks, SOS or any other boater, must be handled through counsel and/or a formal discovery request. My client will not be answering any further questions in an informal manner.
Please advise your clients to cease sending requests to the County for DPHP response and confirm that you have done so.”
The response from the Plaintiffs’ (boaters’) counsel was:
“As far as I know, none of the questions asked had any direct relevance to the pending litigation. If we had directed the questions through discovery, you would have objected on relevance grounds and refused to answer. Your client refusal to engage with the DPBA or any other boater group with concerns about the harbor operations means other avenues have to be pursued. Supervisor Foley has tried to be a conduit to address boater's concerns. If your client wants to refuse to address those concerns, even when they come from the county, it can do so, I suppose, but there is no basis for you demanding my client not engage with Supervisor Foley's office.”
After ruminating on this for several days, we must question.
- Does DPHP not understand that any citizen of Orange County has the right to ask questions of Supervisors?
- DPHP has consistently asserted that most boaters with boats in Dana Point Marina reside in Orange County, so whom does DPHP think the Orange County Board of Supervisors represents?
Does DPHP not understand that the Orange County Real Estate office has direct oversight of the 66-year lease between DPHP and Orange County?
Does DPHP not realize that the Orange County Real Estate Office reports to the Orange County Board of Supervisors?
We don’t know about you, but if 5th District Supervisor Katrina Foley, or any of the other four Supervisors, want questions answered regarding Orange County leases or property, we feel they are entitled to answers.
A big THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to our legal fund. We appreciate you and your support in helping to keep boating affordable on publicly granted Tidelands. Let’s finish strong! Donate here.