A legal dispute with homeowners over an east Oakdale domestic water system ended up costing the Oakdale Irrigation District $368,000 in attorney fees.
The Deo Gloria Estates residents lost the case and were required to cover $23,981 in court costs, but the judge spared them from paying OID’s legal bills.
The dispute dragged on more than five years, ending recently with the judge’s decision on who should pick up the tab.
The case involved the owners of about 30 rural homes east of the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. At issue was whether the homeowners or OID should pay to replace the neighborhood’s domestic water system.
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OID primarily provides irrigation water for farmers, but it also handles domestic water service in a couple of rural neighborhoods. It had been performing maintenance services for the Deo Gloria water system since 1978.
A majority of Deo Gloria’s homeowners voted in 2007 for a major overhaul of their water system, which was to be paid for through assessments on their properties.
OID then merged that water system into its adjacent rural water system and contracted for more than $850,000 in upgrades. Those upgrades were completed in May 2009.
In July 2009, the Deo Gloria property owners filed a lawsuit against OID seeking to overturn the original vote and refund their assessments. The lawsuit’s premise was that the original water system had reverted to OID over the years and that the homeowners should not be responsible for the cost to replace it.
The homeowners’ attorney Michael Abbott contended it was OID’s duty to replace the water system.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne didn’t see it that way.
Though the judge ruled in OID’s favor, he rejected the district’s request that the homeowners reimburse the $368,000 the district paid its attorneys.
OID was represented by Roger Schrimp and James Oliveira of Damrell, Nelson, Schrimp, Pallios, Pacher & Silva of Modesto.