In court orders recently filed in the lawsuit begun by Wolf Creek golf course against the Virgin Valley Water District in May 2018, Judge Timothy Williams ruled against the golf course in three different matters before him.
Shortly after discovery began in April, Wolf Creek filed for summary judgment against the district’s counterclaim of breach of contract. The district alleged that its contract with the golf course for non-potable water leases required the course to use City of Mesquite effluent water prior to using the district’s water, that the golf course make beneficial use of all the water it was leasing, and that the course was prohibited from subleasing the district’s water.
Wolf Creek claimed in its summary judgment request that the district could not “prove damages stemming from any breach of the 2011 lease.”
The judge ruled that had Wolf Creek returned approximately 45 of the 155 shares of water it was leasing, the district could have leased those shares to Southern Nevada Water District for $1,246 instead of the $250 it was getting from the golf course. He also ruled that the “district submitted sufficient evidence supporting its claim that Wolf Creek failed to comply with the terms of the 2011 lease” requiring it to abide by “State Engineer’s and Mesquite Irrigation Company directives which required Wolf Creek’s compliance and cooperation in showing beneficial use of the shares.”
Regarding the sublease of water to the Cascades subdivision next to the golf course, the judge said there was “sufficient evidence supporting [the district’s] claim that Wolf Creek has subleased, assigned, or otherwise allowed third parties to use the district’s shares in violation of the 2011 lease.”
In another court order issued by Judge Williams, he denied Wolf Creek’s charge of abuse of process claim it filed in a Second Amended Complaint against the district in late July.
Wolf Creek’s allegation of abuse of process said, that “the District sent copies of pleadings and documents produced during discovery to one or more local media outlets and coordinated with local media for an ulterior purpose other than resolving a legal dispute and done with the ulterior purpose to counter certain negative publicity and/or gain favorable publicity and to intimidate, outspend, and outsue Plaintiff.”
Wolf Creek’s amended complaint alleging an abuse of process also says, “the District also prepared and procured one or more false declarations sworn under penalty of perjury for an ulterior purpose other than resolving a legal dispute.”
In ruling against Wolf Creek, the judge said that “concerning the alleged communication, coordination, and release of pleadings and discovery to local media, the court concludes that because attorneys and their clients have the right under the First Amendment to communicate with the media regarding cases, because the courts may not generally interfere with or curtail that right, because communications with the media do not in any way invoke legal process, because Defendant is required to respond to public records requests, even if Defendant had communicated and coordinated with local media regarding this case and had done so for an ulterior purpose, such actions would not, as a matter of law, constitute an abuse of process.”
His order also dismissed the second allegation of abuse of process saying, “Regarding the allegation that Defendant has somehow produced or procured witness declarations which it allegedly knows to be false, insofar as this allegation essentially raises a question of disputed fact to be decided at trial and does not, in any event, involve the use; or invocation of judicial process, Plaintiffs claim in this regard does not constitute an abuse of process as a matter of law. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth herein, Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Ninth Cause of Action for abuse of process is hereby granted.”
The third ruling Judge Williams recently signed granted in part and denied in part the water district’s Motion to Compel Wolf Creek to release all of its financial records “demonstrating Wolf Creek’s ability to pay the rates the District is charging or will charge.”
For several years, Paradise Canyon, which owns Wolf Creek golf course, said it could not afford the increased water lease rates that would take the per share cost from $250 to $1,246. The water district contended it would cost the golf course about $98,000 extra a year if the golf course only leased the 110 shares it actually needs at the higher rate. The district wanted the golf courses financial documents to prove there was no hardship in paying the extra lease costs.
The judge’s order denied the request saying “Wolf Creek contends that Wolf Creek does not intend to make any further claim in this case that Wolf Creek cannot afford the district’s rates or that the district’s rates are unaffordable. The Court further holds that since Wolf Creek has affirmatively taken the position that it will not make any statements, claims, or allegations that the District’s MIC share lease rates are unaffordable or that Wolf Creek cannot afford such rates, Wolf Creek shall be barred from making any such claims in this case.”
However, Judge Williams ruled in favor of the district’s request saying “information, records, and documents regarding or relating to any and all payments, gratuities, gifts, benefits, services, discounts, free or discounted golf, free or discounted food, free or discounted merchandise, and/or any other thing of value transferred, given, or provided by Wolf Creek to any individual or entity listed as a potential witness in this case, including without limitation in the District’s or Wolf Creek’s disclosures or supplements thereto, or any family member of such individual or entity, are relevant to this case and Wolf Creek shall forthwith disclose all such records, documents, and information to the District.”
The district’s motion, filed in June, requested documents that could prove or disprove “benefits Wolf Creek has bestowed on certain witnesses and public officials who have advocated for Wolf Creek and who have already provided testimony favorable to Wolf Creek in this litigation.”
That claim is based in part on “emails whereby [Sandra] Ramaker [current Mesquite city councilwoman] provided Wolf Creek with various documents and information related to the District. Ramaker even provided Wolf Creek’s owner, Cory Clemetson with privileged communication (email) from the District’s legal counsel.”
The court filing by VVWD said, “What’s worse, the District was heavily involved in litigation at that time with associates of Clemetson and Clemetson was working to try to convince certain parties, including District board members, to drop the litigation.”
Ramaker was an elected member of the VVWD Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016. She was elected to the Mesquite City Council in 2018.
A jury trial is set for April 2020 in the lawsuit.