A day after Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS) announced a California jury’s ruling of $15.3 million in compensatory damages against the Chicago company in a dispute over a manufactured housing community in San Jose, ELS announced Wednesday (April 16) that the same jury assessed $95.8 million in punitive damages.
“We could not disagree more strongly with the jury’s verdicts,” said CEO Marguerite Nader. “We will vigorously seek to overturn them in the trial court or on appeal, including but not limited to asking the trial judge to grant a new trial and to reduce the grossly excessive damages.”
With respect to compensatory damages, no evidence was presented that any plaintiff suffered any physical injury requiring medical attention, and the documentary evidence of repairs to plaintiffs’ homes or property totaled less than $3,000 collectively for all plaintiffs, according to ELS. “In addition, approximately 75% of the compensatory damages verdict was awarded as compensation for emotional distress even though there was no evidence that any plaintiff had sought or received attention from any health care provider of any kind for emotional distress,” the company said.
According to ELS, California Hawaiian was developed in the 1960s, and is 100% occupied. The plaintiffs’ complaints included among others various utility outages, which are not uncommon in properties of similar age, which were remedied.
In addition to manufactured housing communities, ELS owns a large number of RV parks across the U.S. under their Encore and Thousand Trails names.