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Dangberg back in court Friday

by Sheila Gardner

Drawn-out deliberations over the future of the historic Dangberg Home Ranch resume Friday with a hearing in Douglas County District Court.

Washoe District Judge James Hardesty will hear from attorneys for Douglas County, the state of Nevada, property owners Dangberg Holdings Nevada and the estate of Katrina Glide, the last granddaughter of Carson Valley pioneer H.F. Dangberg Sr.

Glide’s death in 1995 and the subsequent sale of 9,900 acres of what was once a 48,000-acre ranch first established in 1856 in Carson Valley and California touched off the legal wranglings.

No formal appraisal of the property has been completed, but the state believes the disputed acreage is worth $1 million.

Friday’s hearing is on motions for summary judgment sought by both sides in the case – the current owners who want to keep the property as a cattle ranch operation and the state and Dangberg heirs who want to carry out Katrina Glide’s wish to bequeath the home ranch to Douglas County or the state of Nevada for a historic park.

Owners of the ranch believe that stock purchase and lease agreements signed 20 years ago are no longer in effect because of the sale of the property.

Token settlement. Changing politics have also contributed to the legal maneuvering which began in 1996. Commissioners at the time pressed forward with their claim to the property, going so far as to set aside $1.7 million in county reserves for refurbishing the decaying building. A year later – with new commissioners on board – the county decided it couldn’t afford to operate and maintain the ranch. The board agreed to accept a token $50,000 settlement from DHN in exchange for dropping its claim. Shortly before that deal was consummated, the Glide heirs and the state of Nevada petitioned to intervene.

That right was granted by Senior Judge Carl Christensen in May 1997. The ranch owners promptly appealed Christensen’s order to the Nevada Supreme Court. In a 6-1 decision last month, the Nevada high court upheld Christensen’s ruling and the case reverted to District Court.

At the end of June, however, attorneys for DHN asked the Nevada Supreme Court to rehear the case, stating that the justices’ decision was wrong because they misunderstood the facts.

The Supreme Court has set a Thursday deadline for all parties in the case to respond to the rehearing request.

The Dangberg attorneys claim the Supreme Court erred in finding that there was no evidence indicating that the property owners had accepted the county’s counter offer of $50,000.

“The record shows that Gordon DePaoli, representing DHN (Dangberg Holdings Nevada) before the Douglas County Commission accepted the counter offer on behalf of DHN. In addition, there were also the repeated representations of counsel for both the county and DHN, as officers of the court, that a settlement had been reached.”

Dangberg attorneys also argued that due process had been denied.

“The (Supreme Court) decision reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the procedure filed in the trial court,” Reno attorney Suellen Fulstone wrote in her motion for a rehearing.

“This court writes that the Glide Estate and the state of Nevada ‘each filed motions to intervene after learning of settlement negotiations between DHN and Douglas County.’ In fact, the motions were not filed until after the settlement had been approved by the Douglas County Commission, even though the estate clearly was aware of the negotiations and had appeared at the commission hearings to oppose the settlement.”

Fulstone argued in her motion that Dangberg received inadequate notice as required by state law before Christensen issued his injunction to stop the settlement.

In the Glide estate’s answer to the motion for rehearing, Gardnerville attorney Milos Terzich argued that no settlement had been concluded before Judge Christensen stopped the proceeding.

Still valid. In addition, Terzich said Monday, the Glide heirs and the state of Nevada believe the lease agreements “run with the property” and are valid no matter who owns the ranch.

“Even if this (Supreme) Court made some inadvertent misstatements of facts, Dangberg has failed to demonstrate how any of same are material to the issues in this case, or how they should, or would, change the ultimate decision and conclusions of this court in its opinion. The preliminary injunction was properly issued.

“The trial court was well within its discretion in preserving the status quo in order to prevent Douglas County and Dangberg from interfering with the state of Nevada’s and the Glide estate’s interest in having the home ranch maintained as a historical museum for the benefit of the citizens of Douglas County, the state of Nevada, and as a memorable tourist attraction,” Terzich wrote.

In her request for the rehearing, Fulstone concluded, “This (Supreme) Court found that intervention by the state and the Glide estate was appropriate to prevent their interests from being harmed or impeded by the settlement. This court affirmed the injunctive relief against the completion of that settlement on the same ground.

“Both decisions were based on the misapprehension of a material fact. Completion of the settlement could not, in fact, harm or impede the interests of either the state or the estate. Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted that this petition for rehearing must be granted.”

Friday’s hearing begins at 9 a.m. in Douglas County District Court, Department One. The case was assigned to Judge Hardesty by the Supreme Court after Judge Christensen retired from senior status. Douglas County judges Dave Gamble and Michael Gibbons disqualified themselves from hearing the proceedings.