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Calaveras Couple Sues To Keep Home

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Tom and Anita Radcliff have filed a lawsuit against Copper Cove Lake Tulloch Homeowners Association and Coast Assessment Services of Garden Grove after losing their home over a $120 association bill.

The Radcliffs´ attorney, Michael Macomber of Sonora, filed the suit in Calaveras County Superior Court last Thursday.

The suit alleges the association and Coast, the collection agency that auctioned off the home, caused the Radcliffs “great and serious mental anguish and emotional and physical distress.”

The Radcliffs´ symptoms include inability to sleep, a sense of being overwhelmed and severe nervousness, court documents said.

Included as defendants are Yvette Villanueva-Ezell, association president, Norman Bailey, association secretary, and Robert Vardanega of Oakland, the man who bought the Radcliffs´ home for $70,000 at the foreclosure auction.

Villanueva-Ezell said the association´s insurance company hasn´t determined which attorney will represent the association in this case.

She said she is not surprised at the lawsuit or the fact that she is listed in it.

“I´m the president of the association,” Villanueva-Ezell said. “It´s easily logical my name would be mentioned.”

In January 2003 the Radcliffs failed to pay their annual fee to the homeowners association, which eventually climbed to $1,700 from late fees and other charges. In December the association foreclosed and the Radcliffs´ home, which they say is valued at $289,000, was auctioned.

There are eight causes of action in the lawsuit, ranging from unfair debt collection practices to breach of contract and negligence.

In June 2003, Anita Radcliff sent a check to the association for the bill, court documents said. Later that month the check was returned by Coast and a check return charge of $25 was added to the bill.

Anita then called Coast and explained that she and her husband were trying to get a loan to pay off their home construction costs. To which Coast “made assurances” it would wait to receive payment, court documents said.

In an attempt to get the Radcliffs to leave their home last month, Vardanega sued them asking them to leave the house in three days, or start paying $43.33 a day in rent.

Macomber successfully had the suit dismissed because documents prepared by the process server were inconsistent.

Villanueva-Ezell wouldn´t comment on the specifics of the case. She did say the association´s “board of directors are under an awful lot of pressure by people who are saying a lot of horrible things about us and we are not able to respond under the instruction of our attorney.”

“We are receiving telephone calls to our personal numbers and e-mails. We go out into the community and people come up to us,” she said.

However, there are a lot of association members who support the board, Villanueva-Ezell said.

A initial court hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. May 17 in Department 9 of Calaveras Superior Court.

A case management conference will be held at 1:30 July 12 in Department 9 of Calaveras Superior Court.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click: