Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that a Grays Harbor County Superior Court judge ordered the owners of Beacon Charters and RV Park in Ilwaco to pay $926,500 in penalties for unlawfully issuing eviction and utility shut-off notices, plus court costs and fees.
According to a release, Ferguson filed the motion for partial summary judgment as part of his consumer protection lawsuit against Michael and Denise Werner and their companies, including Deer Point Meadows Investments.
The case is filed in Pacific County Superior Court, but being heard in Grays Harbor.
The lawsuit alleges the Werners violated the Consumer Protection Act and Manufactured/Mobile Housing Landlord-Tenant Act during their purchase and operation of Beacon Charters and RV Park.
The Werners are based in Vancouver, Wash., and own and operate dozens of mobile home and RV parks across the state.
More than 4,000 people live in those parks.
The AG office states that on April 11, 2022, the Werners purchased Beacon, intending to convert the park to short-term rentals. Prior to completing the sale, the Werners began issuing eviction notices to Beacon’s 45 long-term residents on February 25, 2022. The notices were signed by “Management.”
On April 6, 2022 – still prior to owning the park – the Werners issued a utility shut-off notice, also signed by “Management.”
Judge Svoboda ruled that the notices were unfair and deceptive, in violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
The Attorney General’s Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program received 13 complaints from 10 tenants at Beacon.
After receiving complaints from tenants, the program’s assistant attorney general met with the Werners on April 13, 2022, two days after they officially owned the park. The Werners indicated they would rescind the notices and keep utilities on.
A month later, the Werners filed eviction proceedings in Pacific County Superior Court against all 14 remaining Beacon residents. Those cases are ongoing.
According to AG documents, in written communication, Denise Werner described the Beacon residents as “filth.” Michael Werner stated he is not concerned about the Beacon residents’ rights and that he does not believe the law applies to him.
Judge Katherine Svoboda ordered the Werners and their companies to pay $381,500 in civil penalties, plus $545,000 in enhanced penalties because their unlawful notices impacted protected classes including elderly, disabled, veterans and low-income individuals.
Judge Svoboda also ordered the Werners to pay the Attorney General’s costs and fees. That amount will be determined at a later date.
The lawsuit is ongoing regarding the Werners’ violations of the Manufactured/Mobile Housing Landlord Tenant Act.