PUC Loses Latest Court Round Over Land Deal


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Last week, a judge ruled against Pacific Union College in the ongoing dispute over a possible sale of hundreds of acres of its Angwin property.

The Napa County Superior Court judge ruled that Sustainable Community Partners LLC could file notice that a lawsuit was pending on the property. PUC had argued that making the lawsuit public would disrupt a prospective sale to an unnamed third party.

That same day, Sustainable Community Partners filed a cross complaint in court against PUC for damages and legal expenses.

The Napa Valley Register published a story about the latest court round, part of which read:

On Wednesday, lawyers for both parties argued their case in front of Judge Diane Price in Napa County Superior Court. Price took the matter under submission.

On Thursday, Price denied PUC’s application for a preliminary injunction. The judge rejected PUC’s argument that Sustainable Community Partners had no legal basis to file a “lis pendens” because it has “no real property claim.”

“Here, Defendant has not yet filed any pleadings in this matter. Thus, there are no causes of action for the court to analyze as to whether the Defendant has a ‘real property claim’ pursuant to (the California Code of Civil Procedure) that would support a ‘lis pendens,’” Price wrote.

The story, written by Kerana Todorov and published Friday afternoon, continued:

In light of Price’s ruling, it is unclear whether PUC will continue its efforts to sell the property to the unnamed third party.

Pacific Union College in early 2013 agreed to sell land in Angwin to Sustainable Community Partners for a residential and vineyard development, according to court documents. However, the agreement fell through a few months later, in April 2013.

Read about the paper's previous story here.

In December, PUC sued the development company, alleging the company was trying to cloud the college’s new plans to sell land to an unidentified party by filing a lis pendens.

And the legal case just becomes more tangled.

On Thursday, Sustainable Community Partners filed a cross complaint in Napa County Superior Court for unspecified damages and legal expenses, alleging breach of contract by PUC and co-defendant Howell Mountain Enterprises, a company affiliated with PUC, over its decision to terminate the purchase-and-sale agreement signed in February 2013.

A case management conference is scheduled for May 27.

In a statement to the PUC campus community, college president Heather Knight said:

. . .Because this matter is in litigation, we will not comment publicly other than to say that we are disappointed by the Court's decision issued on last Friday, but we understand that this is just a preliminary ruling. The College fully intends to continue to take the steps necessary to preserve and to protect our community, land holdings and natural resources for future generations. I will keep you updated as more details develop.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5763