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The case of the peekaboo plaintiff

CSD getting the dodge in covenant suit
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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A defendant in a local covenant lawsuit is playing hard to get. David Dias, property owner at 3350 Tea Rose Drive, is in court over an unapproved retaining wall and commercial-vehicle parking. Or rather, he isn’t. Dias was a no-show at an Oct. 16 court hearing. “We’ve had trouble serving him,” said Wayne Lowery, district general manager. “He’s not answering his door.” Dias’ case-management hearing Oct. 16 was continued until Dec. 17. “The court continued it 60 days to give us time to serve him, and for him to respond to the service,” Lowery said. In January 2007, the district first notified Dias of the covenant violations. “You are hereby required to stop work immediately,” the CSD letter said of the retaining wall project. “You are also required to submit a Property Improvement Application to the Design Review Committee.” Among the covenants regulating property ownership in the Bass Lake Village Unit 4 subdivision is the following: “No building, fence, wall or other permanent structure shall be erected, altered or placed on any lot in said subdivision until building plans have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Architectural Control Committee.” Tough restrictions apply to parking of vehicles in the neighborhood. “The El Dorado Hills CSD has received numerous complaints from residents regarding the commercial vehicles, trucks and trailer being stored on the street,” a district letter to Dias reads. “This situation has created a safety hazard.” In the reported cat-and-mouse game going on with serving legal papers on the defendant, the district might be forced to resort to trickery on Dias. More than a few good tricks have been thought up and used, legally, in the annals of process serving. In New York, a notorious dodger was smoked out with a phony phone call, according to the Long Island Business News. Posing as a neighbor, a game process server phoned the man and told him someone was breaking into his car. The dodger emerged, and his game was up. In let’s-get-serious process serving, lying is not only legal but is standard operating procedure. However, although trickery is part of the business, there are limitations. Delivering papers with a bouquet of flowers is OK, for example, but sticking the papers inside the bouquet is not. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com