Oral Argument October 22, 2014
Appeal from Spokane Superior Court. Docket No: 13-2-01935-8. Judge signing: Honorable Tari S Eitzen. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 08/14/2013.
Jerry H. Kindinger and Teruyuki S. Olsen (of Ryan Swanson & Cleveland PLLC ), for appellant.
Marshall Casey (of M. Casey Law PLLC ); Spencer A.W. Stromberg (of Sullivan Stromberg PLLC ); and Jed W. Morris (of Lukins & Annis PS ), for respondents.
Concurring: Kevin M. Korsmo, Robert E. Lawrence-Berrey.
[184 Wn.App. 596] Stephen M. Brown, A.C.J.
[¶1] Today, we examine a dispute stemming from the 2008 conversion of Spokane's Ridpath Hotel into condominiums. Ridpath Revival LLC (Revival) appeals the trial court's summary judgment declaration granting relief to Club Envy of Spokane LLC, David Largent, [184 Wn.App. 597] Ridpath Penthouse LLC, and 515 Spokane Partners LLC (collectively Club Envy). Club Envy asked the trial court to declare void a second amended and restated declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCRs). Club Envy argued RCW 64.34.264 and 64.34.348 prohibited certain acts embodied in the second amended declaration taken by the former officers and directors of the Ridpath Tower Condominium Association and its president, Greg Jeffreys. Revival contends (1) Club Envy's action is barred by the statute of limitations, equitable estoppel, and laches, (2) genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether the amended CCRs are void, (3) the court wrongly dismissed all claims in summary judgment, and (4) judicial misconduct. We affirm.
[¶2] On February 20, 2008, the Ridpath's owner, 515 Washvada Investments LLC, created the Ridpath Tower Condominium.
The tower became an 18-unit condominium complex, and the Ridpath Tower Condominium Association was formed. The tower included common elements shared by the owners.
[¶3] The first amended declaration of CCRs, recorded on June 12, 2008, divided unit 18, spanning 12 floors, into units 18 and 19. The second amended declaration, recorded on August 28, 2008, divided unit 18 into units 18, 20, and 21. It lowered each association member's voting rights from 5.263 percent to 4.762 percent and converted some common elements to private ownership. Both amendments were executed by Mr. Jeffreys. Mr. Jeffreys has since been convicted on a series of federal fraud charges unrelated to these transactions. Revival purchased units 20 and 21, as well as unit 3, in January 2013. During discussions to purchase, no discussion took place regarding the validity of the second amended declaration.
[¶4] The majority of owners desired to develop the Ridpath tower into low-rent microapartments. Revival, [184 Wn.App. 598] however, planned to develop rooftop units 20 and 21 back into a luxury hotel. Club Envy sued for declaratory relief, requesting the court declare the second amended declaration void for lack of proper approval by the requisite percentage of condominium members and terminate Revival's interests in units 20 and 21. Club Envy additionally asked the court to declare the use restriction in the first amended declaration does not prohibit rental of microapartments. Club Envy requested summary judgment on its request for declaratory relief. Revival filed a cross motion for summary judgment on the ground Club Envy's claims were barred as a matter of law by RCW 64.34.264(2)'s one-year statute of limitations.
[¶5] During the summary judgment hearing, the trial judge commented she previously had " a lot of cases involving this sort of thing with the same gentleman, with Mr. Jeffreys, and they're not normal or typical. They're all just like huge messes involving a lot of people tragic a lot." Report of Proceedings (RP) at 65-66. The judge further stated, " Mr. Jeffreys ... has shown a lot of creativity that takes all of these situations outside everything that a lot of us have seen before." RP at 71. The judge commented, " [W]hat if hypothetically, say, Mr. Jeffreys had some other things going on with this whole transaction that wouldn't pass muster and we kept looking at what went on with this whole deal." RP at 83.
[¶6] The court granted Club Envy's motion and denied Revival's motion. The court noted in its order, " There was some discussion at oral argument as to whether the granting of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment would dispose of the case in total. The Court grants the motion as framed, and deems the matter ...