A Washington state judge has imposed a significant penalty on the owners of Beacon RV Park, a Chinook Observer report highlighted.
Michael and Denise Werner, the park’s proprietors, were ordered to pay $926,500 for issuing illegal eviction and utility shut-off notices.
This decision, handed down on Thursday, marks a pivotal moment for campground operators and underscores the importance of adhering to landlord-tenant laws.
The case, spearheaded by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, accused the Werners of multiple violations of the state’s landlord-tenant act and consumer protection laws. These allegations emerged soon after the couple purchased Beacon RV Park in early 2022. The lawsuit, initially filed in Pacific County Superior Court, was later heard in the Grays Harbor County Courthouse by Judge Katherine Svoboda, following a request from the defendants for a change of venue.
During the December 14 hearing, the Attorney General’s Office presented compelling evidence of at least 109 violations related to eviction and utility shut-off notices issued by the Werners. Judge Svoboda’s ruling in favor of the state found these notices to be unfair and deceptive, constituting a clear breach of consumer protection laws.
The penalty breakdown includes $381,500 in civil penalties, calculated at $3,500 per violation, and an additional $545,000 in enhanced penalties, amounting to $5,500 per violation. This enhanced penalty reflects the impact of the Werners’ actions on protected classes, including the elderly, disabled, veterans, and low-income individuals.
This ruling is not the end of the legal challenges for the Werners. The lawsuit continues to address other alleged violations of Washington’s Manufactured/Mobile Housing Landlord Tenant Act. Earlier in the year, an administrative law judge found the Werners guilty of 19 violations of state landlord-tenant law during their eviction campaign and upheld a cease-and-desist order issued in July 2022
The implications of this case extend far beyond the Beacon RV Park. For campground and outdoor hospitality operators, this serves as a reminder of the legal responsibilities and ethical standards required in the industry. Compliance with state landlord-tenant laws is not only a legal obligation but also a critical aspect of maintaining a reputable and sustainable business.
The case highlights the importance of understanding and adhering to consumer protection laws, especially when dealing with vulnerable populations. Campground and RV park owners are urged to review their policies and practices to ensure they align with state regulations and ethical business conduct.
As the industry continues to evolve, this ruling reinforces the need for ongoing education and awareness among campground owners and operators. Staying informed about legal requirements and industry best practices is essential for fostering a safe, welcoming, and legally compliant environment for all guests.
Beacon RV Park case is a significant development in the campground and outdoor hospitality industry. It not only highlights the legal repercussions of non-compliance but also serves as a reminder of the industry’s commitment to fairness, respect, and ethical business practices. As the industry moves forward, this case will likely be referenced as a benchmark for legal and ethical standards in campground operations.