By Ken Stern 

Shelter Bay board beats court injunction

 

April 19, 2023



Skagit County Superior Court judge Laura Riquelme sided with the five executive committee members of the Shelter Bay Community board of directors Friday, denying a request for an injunction that could have led to their removal from the board and would have prevented them from making financial decisions, including approving the community’s 2023 interim lease with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

In a near hour-long hearing attended by 15-20 Shelter Bay residents and watched over Zoom by another 45, attorneys for defendants Wendy Poulton, Elaine Dixon Monte Hicks, Joseph Hurley and Louise Kari convinced the court that plaintiff Jan Henrie could not sue the defendants as individuals. She had not sued them as board members of the Shelter Bay Community, Inc.

Defense lawyer Candace Chuck conceded that even if Henrie had standing, a right to sue as a property owning member of the community, it is not enough to grant injunction relief and asked that the motion be denied in its entirety.

Riquelme ruled that Henrie had standing. Paul Taylor, Henrie’s lawyer, went through a litany of alleged financial mismanagement of Shelter Bay assets, from the bylaws not being followed in bringing the master lease to the residents for approval, that the board has misled members, that their negotiations with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community favored the tribe and disadvantaged residents and that board members misspent funds, malfeasance, in paying the fine and penalties after then-board member Steve Swigert’s cut down trees in the community’s Rainbow Park in 2020.

Riquelme noted the master lease is between the company and the tribe and that the board represents the company. She prompted the defense to “speak to obligations of the board of the company to the community.”

Chuck explained the community’s “board of directors owe a duty to the association and not to individual members.” Henrie’s trying to sue individual defendants was “trying to hijack the board.”

Riquelme brought the hearing quickly to a close, saying she was “signing the order for denial of injunctive relief and temporary restraining order.”

In a phone call Monday night Taylor would not reveal his legal strategy. He said repeatedly, “it is not over” and referred again and again to the recall of the five defendants as “something more important” and “the thing that is going to have consequences.”

Henrie’s complaint alleging actual damages incurred is still active.

Other lawyers predict that the defense attorneys will file a motion for summary judgement to have the complaint dismissed.

 

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