A district court judge in Llano ordered both sides in a civil lawsuit filed by Horseshoe Bay Resort against the Horseshoe Bay Property Owners' Association to mediate their dispute in the coming months. File photo
A district court judge ordered both sides in a civil lawsuit filed by Horseshoe Bay Resort against the Horseshoe Bay Property Owners’ Association to mediate their differences during a hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Judge Evan Stubbs of the 424th District Court in Llano also denied a request from resort attorneys to issue a temporary injunction freezing POA bank accounts.
“Both parties are going to have to work together, whether you like it or not, or you may end up (in trial) and both unhappy like you are right now,” Stubbs told the courtroom inside the Llano County Courthouse.
Parties have until Dec. 8 to agree on a mediator or the court will appoint one. They have until Jan. 31 to begin mediation.
“I would hope the mediation will help flesh out logistics for how you work together,” Stubbs said.
The lawsuit will return to court if the two sides are unable to remedy their dispute through mediation.
“If you don’t figure it out, you’ll come back here, and I guess I’ll have to figure it out. And I don’t want to do that,” Stubbs said. “I hope we’re not going to have a full trial because I think it would be a nightmare, and, frankly, it’s going to cost both parties lots of money. It’s not cheap to be here.”
Horseshoe Bay Resort filed the $1 million lawsuit on Oct. 27, accusing the POA of failing to uphold its 52-year-old agreement with the resort to adhere to landscaping standards. The resort also accused the POA of hoarding funds that should be used for landscaping.
“This all worked for over 40 years until the current POA board decided they didn’t like being told what to do,” said resort attorney Clark Aspy.
Aspy asked the court to freeze the POA’s accounts to prevent the resort from incurring further damages.
“They’re not doing what they’re supposed to do, and we’ve shown they’ve caused irreparable harm,” he said.
POA attorney Jared Grisham said more harm would be done if the accounts were frozen.
“Freezing accounts does not help their claimed issue but actually exacerbates it,” he said.
Witnesses who testified for the resort included controlling owner Doug Jaffe, resort Vice Chairman Ron Mitchell, and Phillip Jalufka, an expert in the resort industry.
In his remarks to the courtroom, Jaffe claimed POA President Donald Beeman is the source of the discord.
“Since Mr. Beeman associated himself with the POA, it has been a train wreck,” Jaffe said.
Jalufka testified that unkempt landscaping can negatively affect high-end resorts.
“At any point that landscaping or maintenance changes to a worse standard, it can impact (real estate valuations),” he said.
POA Vice President Linda Burling, one of two witnesses called to testify for the association, supported POA’s position on landscaping.
“We canceled the (landscaping) contract because we felt that we were not getting adequate service and were receiving substandard work,” she said. “We have since hired the same landscapers the resort is using.”
The other defense witness, POA Treasurer Belinda Roberts, took on the lawsuit’s claims of money hoarding.
“Our finances are audited every year by an independent auditor,” she said. “The resort has received those audits. We have nothing that is not accounted for.”