Water intrusion from nearby hotel forces restaurant to close. $112K. Ventura County.
Hotel room plumbing leaks and floods leased restaurant below it.
- Case Name: Sportsman International v. Ventura Realty & Investment Company
- Court and Case Number: Ventura County Superior Court / 56-2018-00507318-CU-PO-VTA
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, April 15, 2022
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, January 26, 2018
- Type of Action: Nuisance, Private
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Henry J. Walsh
Plaintiffs: Sportsman International, Jenny Ching and Joe Ching (restaurant owners)
Defendants: Ventura Realty & Investment Company
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $112,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $112,000
Loss of business goodwill: $100,000
Loss of profits: $7,000
Annoyance and disturbance: $5,000
- Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours
- Jury Polls: 9-3
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Rodriguez Law, APC by Steven L Rodriguez, Calabasas.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Procter, Shyer & Winter, LLP by James N. Procter II, Camarillo.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Jeffrey Hughes, liability.
Henry Kahrs, damages.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Kenneth Free, liability.
Jennifer Polhemus, damages.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Sportsman Restaurant was established in downtown Ventura in 1950. Jenny and Joe Ching purchased Sportsman Restaurant in 1985. The Sportsman was known as one of the oldest and longest-running restaurants in Ventura County at the time of its permanent closure on October 12, 2017. The restaurant was situated directly below the Bella Maggiore Inn, a hotel that was owned and operated by the Sportsman's landlord, Ventura Realty & Investment Company.
On the night of October 11, 2017, the handle of a cold-water faucet in the bathroom of Room 25 of the Bella Maggiore Inn broke off while a guest was attempting to stop water leaking from the faucet. After the cold water faucet handle broke, water leaked for several hours, resulting in water damage to the Sportsman Restaurant, which was located directly below the Bella Maggiorre Inn, and Room 25 specifically. The massive water intrusion led to the permanent closure of the Sportsman, owned and operated by the Ching family.
That the defendant's negligent maintenance of Room 25 within its hotel, the Bella Maggiore Inn, including the sink area and flooring, caused water intrusion into their restaurant and a nuisance on their leased property that the landlord did not abate. Further, that the defendant's motive in evicting them was in retaliation for asserting their rights as tenants. Plaintiffs Jenny and Joe Ching were ages 71 and 81, respectively, at the time they claim defendant violated their rights.
Plaintiffs also claimed that the defendant's officer and managing agent acted with oppression, malice and/or fraud against the plaintiff, thus causing the defendant to become liable to the plaintiffs for punitive damages.
Defendant denied that it was negligent or caused a nuisance, and denied that it caused any of the plaintiffs' damages and disputed the plaintiffs' claims for damages.
Defendant denied that it acted with any discriminatory motive against Jenny or Joe Ching or with malice, oppression and/or fraud. Defendant denied it was responsible for the plaintiffs' alleged damages.
That the terms of the lease required plaintiffs to prove gross not ordinary negligence.
Defendant also alleged that the plaintiffs failed to properly mitigate their damages and refused to cooperate with defendant's efforts to repair the premises.
Injuries and Other Damages
Plaintiffs claimed loss of business goodwill, loss of profits and annoyance and disturbance damages.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Plaintiffs claimed $500,000 in damages.
Half-way through trial, the court granted defendant's motion for nonsuit as to the majority of the plaintiffs' claims and ruled that the plaintiffs were required to prove gross negligence, rather than general negligence, due to the liability limitation contained in the Sportsman's lease with defendant Ventura Realty.