Gray·Duffy Obtains Favorable Jury Verdict in Client Fraud, Conversion and Breach of Contract Lawsuit

August 2011


Brian Plessala of Gray•Duffy’s Encino office obtained a favorable jury verdict for its client in a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit based on the client’s work as a pool manager.


Don Harris v. Menifee Lakes Master Association

An original complaint was filed by Don Harris in 2006 against Menifee Lakes Master Association (MLMA). MLMA filed an initial cross-complaint but amended it several times to add claims as they were “discovered.”

Harris was sued by MLMA based on his work as a manager at the pool facility operated by MLMA. MLMA sued for damages under theories of breach of contract, implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, conversion, money received and money paid by mistake.

After the initial cross-complaint was filed, the parties agreed to a mediation involving the remaining MLMA case in which the insured was still a plaintiff against the lake company. At the time of mediation, MLMA claimed its damages were approximately $450,000. As a result of mediation, a settlement of $135,000 was offered to MLMA, who made counter-settlement demands in excess of $200,000. On behalf of the client, a Statutory Offer (CCP Section 998) of $100,000 was served.

The case became very emotionally charged by the time it went to trial. The damages claimed arose mainly from Harris’ work as the pool manager over the years and the association sought to make a claim against him for a wide variety of pool and equipment claims. The case commenced trial on July 15, 2011, and the jury verdict, after 1.5 days of deliberation, came in on August 4, 2011. The total jury verdict for Menifee Lakes Master Association (MLMA) was $41,266 — less than 10% of the amount they presented to the jury.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.