NEVADA ASSOCIATION SERVICES, INC.; AND PECCOLE RANCH COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, Petitioners,
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE SUSAN SCANN, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and ELSINORE, LLC, ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CLASS DEFINED HEREIN; AND G.J.L., INCORPORATED, Real Parties in Interest
Original petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition challenging a district court order denying a motion to dismiss and a district court order denying a motion for summary judgment in a real property action.
Holland & Hart LLP and Patrick J. Reilly and Nicole E. Lovelock, Las Vegas, for Petitioner Nevada Association Services, Inc.
Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP, and Michael J. Lemcool, Don Springmeyer, and Gregory P. Kerr, Las Vegas, for Petitioner Peccole Ranch Community Association.
Adams Law Group and James R. Adams, Las Vegas, for Real Party in Interest Elsinore, LLC.
Johns & Durrant, LLP, and Lance W. Johns, Las Vegas, for Real Party in Interest G. J.L., Incorporated.
SAITTA, J. We concur: Pickering, J., Hardesty, J., Parraguirre, J., Douglas, J., Cherry, J.
BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.
" The voluntary payment doctrine is a long-standing doctrine of law, which clearly provides that one who makes a payment voluntarily cannot recover it on the ground that he was under no legal obligation to make the payment." Best Buy Stores v. Benderson-Wainberg Assocs., 668 F.3d 1019, 1030 (8th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted). This doctrine precludes recovery of a voluntary payment unless the party can demonstrate that it meets an exception to the doctrine.
At issue here is whether the voluntary payment doctrine applies in Nevada to bar a property owner from recovering fees that it paid to a community association and, if so, whether the property owner demonstrated an exception to this doctrine by showing that the payments were made under business compulsion or in defense of property. We hold that the doctrine is valid in Nevada and that the property owner did not show an exception which would preclude its application in the present case.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Real party in interest Elsinore, LLC, purchased a property located within the Peccole Ranch planned community at a foreclosure auction. Prior to the foreclosure and sale, petitioner Peccole Ranch Community Association placed a lien on the property for unpaid community-association assessments. After purchasing the property, Elsinore sent a letter to Peccole Ranch requesting an accounting statement regarding the property's assessments and stating that it would not pay any assessments or fees that were not authorized by NRS 116.3116. Real party in interest G.J.L., Incorporated, d.b.a. Pro Forma Lien and Foreclosure Services, an agent of Peccole Ranch, responded with a letter to Elsinore demanding payment of outstanding association dues and advising Elsinore that a lien was in place on its property. Elsinore paid the demand and then sold the property.
Nearly three years after it sold the property, Elsinore filed a complaint against Peccole Ranch with the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) on behalf of itself and a class of similarly situated property owners. It alleged that Peccole Ranch had made excessive lien demands in violation of NRS 116.3116 and the Peccole Ranch covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC& Rs). Elsinore and Peccole Ranch unsuccessfully mediated the NRED complaint and disputed whether they were mediating only Elsinore's claims or all of the purported class's claims.
Subsequently, Peccole Ranch filed a district court action against Elsinore, seeking declaratory relief regarding the application of NRS 116.3116 to its CC& Rs. Elsinore answered and filed a counterclaim for declaratory relief and damages on behalf of itself and the class identified in the NRED complaint. The district court certified the class and appointed Elsinore's attorneys as class counsel. Peccole Ranch filed a motion to dismiss the ...