Judge says county should get Dangberg items
Douglas County may soon be getting 138 items from the old Dangberg Home Ranch so litigators can focus on other issues surrounding a three-year-old lawsuit on the ranch, a district judge said Friday.
Washoe District Judge James Hardesty, who has been appointed to the case because Douglas’ district judges disqualified themselves, said he doesn’t see any reason Douglas County shouldn’t take possession of 138 ranch items the ranch’s current owners earlier agreed to give up.
The disclosure came as lawyers for the state parks division, Douglas County, the Katrina Glide estate and Dangberg Holdings Nevada argued Friday over a series of requests they’ve been making.
The home ranch, located west of Minden off of Highway 88, was headquarters to Minden’s founding family, and a 1978 agreement between his three granddaughters and ranch buyers said the daughters could live out their lives at the ranch, with the home ranch to be offered as a living history museum when they died.
The ranch has since changed hands several times, and the last granddaughter, Katrina Glide, died in July 1995. Shortly after, Dangberg Holdings acquired the home ranch as part of a larger ranch. Dangberg attorneys contended they were not bound by the 1978 agreement, prompting a lawsuit by Douglas County.
The sides later agreed to settle for $50,000 and 145 ranch items that could be displayed in an existing county museum. Seven of those items cannot be found, cutting the list to 138.
– Intervention. Attorneys for the Glide estate and the state parks division have since intervened. State lawyers say the state should have been offered the ranch if the county didn’t want it and Glide lawyers say they’re entitled to a list of personal property at the ranch, and that Glide intended the home ranch to become a public museum.
Hardesty, the second judge to hear the case after the first one retired, asked why Douglas County hasn’t taken the property.
“It seems to me you (Dangberg) said, ‘We’ll give up this property’ and you (Douglas) said, ‘We’d like to have it,’ and there’s no reason not to get it on,” said Hardesty. “The ‘hostage’ use of personal property is over, so people better decide where they are with regard to those subjects.”
Douglas Deputy District Attorney Robert Morris said he thinks county leaders would like the property but haven’t taken it because they wanted to see if the state would succeed – in which case the county would probably leave the property at the ranch.
– Deadline set. Hardesty set an Aug. 9 date for Morris to indicate whether the county will remove the property. The other lawyers were told to file another round of briefs listing any questions and challenges they still have by that date.
Hardesty’s apparent inclination to give Douglas County the ranch items didn’t settle all the questions surrounding the ranch property, however. Glide attorney Milos Terzich wants an inventory of all the personal property currently at the ranch because some of it belonged to Glide, and some items that should be in the house are missing – including the seven on the county’s list.
He was opposed by Dangberg attorney Gordon DePaoli, who said the Glide estate doesn’t have a legal claim to the items that are earmarked for the county. He also said some of the property on the ranch belonged to the corporations that owned it, and previous owners may have disposed of it over the years.
“The good stuff is gone and has been gone for a long time,” DePaoli said, noting 21 years have elapsed since the original agreement was executed. “There is no way for us to tell anybody where that is.”
– Judgments sought. The parties have all asked for orders granting their claims, and they are citing different laws to support those claims. Some of Friday’s testimony centered on a lease and stock purchase agreement between the Dangberg granddaughters and the entities to whom they sold the ranch back in 1978. Glide attorney Tim Pemberton says Dangberg’s current attorneys knew about the clause making the home ranch public because they represented the original principals in the deal. He also said they’re using old laws that are no longer valid thanks to modern interpretations, which he said “eviscerate every one of their arguments.
“Dangberg Holdings’ papers are just a litany, a checklist of doctrines that have been rejected,” he said. “(Glide) sold shares based on a promise the land would be offered (for a public museum)…Whoever among these entities wants to have it ought to have it because that’s the intention of the people who made the promise and received it.”
He was joined by state attorney George Taylor, who said research at the time of Dangberg Holdings’ purchase should have shown the restriction on the home ranch.
– Dangberg lawyers disagree. Dangberg attorney Suellen Fulstone said the original stock purchase agreement should have no bearing on the real ranch property because it didn’t cover the property. Instead, the corporation owned the property, and the people involved in the purchase agreement had no right to give the property away, she said.
As for the lease that gave the granddaughters the right to live out their lives on the ranch, it expired when Katrina Glide died and therefore Dangberg, which bought the ranch later that year, was never subject to it, she said.
Also at issue is a letter written by a state parks administrator to a former county commissioner indicating the state would not be interested in developing the home ranch. Dangberg attorneys say they took that as proof they didn’t need to offer the ranch to the state once the county settled, but state attorneys say the letter was written with the assumption the county would achieve ownership of the ranch. Had state officials known the county would settle, they said they would have emphasized their interest in the ranch.
Hardesty said state attorneys can submit documentation of their true intentions when they submitted the letter. While he didn’t make any rulings on the arguments given Friday, he indicated one may be issued in coming weeks. He also said he’ll be setting a trial date soon, because he doesn’t want to prolong the case.