Bonapart & Associates Law and Mediation: Practical Solutions for an Impractical World

Verdicts and Settlements

REAL PROPERTY, Trespass/Nuisance

SETTLEMENT RESULT: On the eve of trial by judicial reference, the parties entered into a recorded agreement protecting views from plaintiffs' property and the trees and providing that the landscaping located on defendants' property be maintained at specified elevations. The agreement was recorded May 11, 2012. The mediator was Max Factor III.

CASE: Suski v. Stern. Case No. Docket Number LC092825

SETTLEMENT DATE: March 13, 2012

ATTORNEYS:Plaintiffs- Barri Kaplan Bonapart (Bonapart & Associates, Sausalito)
Defendants- Mark F. Miller (Manfredi, Levine, Eccles, Miller & Lanson A.P.C., Westlake Village, CA)

EXPERTS: Carl Mellinger, Arborist, Mellinger Tree & Landscape Service, Pacific Palisades, CA; Jay Seymour, Surveyor,
Professional Land Consultants Inc., Redondo Beach, CA; Rick Widmer, Surveyor, Peak Surveys, Westlake Village, CA

FACTS & CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs George and Mary Suski, individually and as trustees of the George and Mary Suski Family Trust, and defendants Michael and Virginia Stern each owned properties in Westlake Village, which had a view ordinance; plaintiffs' property and defendants' property neighbored each other. The homes were subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions that contained prohibitions and criteria regarding views, plantings and nuisances.

At the time of plaintiffs' purchase of their property in 1976, they had panoramic views of the wooded canyons, hillside terrains, ridges and distance skylines, which added substantially to the beauty and value of the property and home.

Defendants purchased their property in 2002, and in conjunction with a major remodel, defendants proceeded to plant a line of trees and vegetation adjacent to the shared property line that, over a very short period, began to obstruct plaintiffs' historic views. Plaintiffs said they repeatedly asked defendants to cut back the trees and vegetation to restore their view, but defendants refused. Plaintiffs alleged their historic views were obstructed by the trees and landscaping planted by defendants in violation of the the Westlake Village ordinance and the subdivisions CC&Rs.


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