After holding a hearing in November 2021, the Mariposa County Superior Court issued an order on February 3, 2022 discharging the receiver that the Court had appointed years prior to correct numerous violations of law at the former Bison Creek Ranch property, and also reducing the receiver’s request for unpaid fees and costs by over $300,000, as the County had requested.
As part of its request to be discharged from the case, the receiver, California Receivership Group (CRG), had asked the Court for over $600,000 in unpaid fees and other costs of its work.
Mariposa County found CRG’s request to be excessive, and through its attorneys at the law firm Silver & Wright LLP, filed objections seeking a significant reduction in the receiver’s fees.
Although the receiver’s fees would be paid from the nuisance property and defendant, and not the County, the County and its attorneys found CRG’s fees to be excessive and improper and felt compelled to oppose them. Defendant JDC Land Company, LLC agreed with the County’s effort.
A misconception that needs clarification is regarding why the hearing didn’t last two days, as planned.
“There wasn’t a two-day live testimony hearing because the attorney for defendant JDC Land Company, LLC wanted to cancel it and submit only on the filed papers. Nonetheless, the Court did set it for a hearing, which occurred, but without the live testimony. We’re pleased the Court agreed with the County’s objection and reduced the receiver’s excessive request.”
Silver & Wright LLP Partner John Fujii
At the hearing, the Court informed JDC Land Company, LLC’s owner, Jerry Cox, that his excessive court filings and appeals, all of which were unsuccessful, caused the increased fees and costs of the receiver and the fees incurred by the County.
In its order, the Court observed that Mr. Cox had 13 years to comply with the County’s requests and notices, and otherwise could have “saved himself and everyone else from 13 years of misery and expense” by simply complying with the law or otherwise cooperating.
The Court blamed Jerry Cox for not taking steps to correct the plethora of code violations until it was too late to do so and for “his efforts to sabotage the receiver’s attempts to rectify them,” which the Court called “egregious by any test.”
The Court also observed that properties over which a receiver is appointed “are almost always troubled properties, often with sketchy situations and characters, with lots of complications and difficult people.” While the order also expressed some observations about the proceedings and potential unusual outcomes due to the State laws on receiverships, the Judge concluded the receivership process is “perfectly legal”, as numerous other appellate courts and even the State Supreme Court have concluded.
The Court also noted how the appellate court upheld the County’s actions and the receivership in several appeals, denying every single one filed by JDC Land Company, LLC.
This news comes after more than four years of efforts by Mariposa County and its outside counsel, Silver & Wright LLP, to gain compliance at the Bison Creek Ranch, a property posing a serious threat to the community with several dozen illegal conditions, illegal business operations, and violating an agreement under State law to use the property for agriculture in exchange for reduced property taxes.
The superior and appellate courts found “substantial evidence” of substandard conditions and violations of law at the property, and that JDC Land Company, LLC had adequate opportunities to comply before the County was forced to file this lawsuit, but didn’t do so. The California Supreme Court agreed, declining to consider further appeals.
On April 4, 2022, the Court will hold another hearing regarding remaining issues in the lawsuit.