That being the case, what is the nature of
Windermere's business? Are these the arguments of people
you can trust?
Someone You Can
You are listening to a radio ad produced
by the National Association of Realtors, aired in 2006. To view
National Assn. of Realtors TV ad, click here.
This is the story of what happened when we put
our trust in a Windermere Realtor.
Realtor licensed to the broker at Windermere Real Estate /SCA,
Northwest's largest real estate firm, boasts of "the highest ethical
standards" and "uncompromising honesty and integrity." As you
read, be reminded that Windermere is defending
Mr. Stickney in court.
Is your Realtor as trustworthy as Windermere's
To watch Mr. Stickney explaining his case to
MSNBC, click here.
If you have an
opinion you would like to communicate to Windermere, the head office
may be reached at:
To see the letters we are currently sending
Northwest Realtors, click here.
Not with a gun, but a Windermere Realtor license. For years,
Street provided a base of operations for Cheryl Jonet to fleece the Seattle area public. When the victims realized
they'd been robbed, Windermere's lawyers lied, saying that Windermere brokers are not responsible for their agents' actions.
For details, see the Windermere Gallery. This is the Irony
and the Ecstasy of Windermere's
lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jonet's schemes, and so did Tom Mc Makin. We are told
Jonet struck at least eleven other victims.
Cheryl Jonet (aka Cheryl Baumhofer) is now
deceased, but the devastation she caused in the lives of others goes on
and on. Windermere, meanwhile, has enjoyed the fruit of her
Isn't it about time the State of Washington
prosecuted Windermere's lawyers for what amounts to racketeering?
And how honest a reporting service is The
Seattle Times? The Times refused to cover our story
(reporter Susan Kelleher interviewed us in December, 2006, but her
story was killed). The Times has refused to follow up on
the Doorish or Mc Mackin stories, and the eleven other leads
Mc Mackin provided. Yet The Times does report other
real estate scams. See, for example, February 27, 2009, Mortgage-fraud
defendant sentenced to seven years in prison. It seems The
Times looks the other way when the problem is Windermere.
Rob McKenna, Washington Attorney
General, is styled as the top consumer
protection advocate in the State of Washington. He is
courageous enough to go after guppies, but
has no appetite for sharks, such as the nation's largest savings and
loan, Washington Mutual. Meanwhile, from across the continent,
New York's AG, Andrew Cuomo, noticed the problem with this homegrown
Washington firm, and took
We sought McKenna's help with our renovation problems, and achieved the predictable result — zero.
In 2006, McKenna settled a law suit against Ameriquest
Mortgage for "pennies on the dollar," according to one attorney involved. Ameriquest was charged with
overvaluing homes in appraisals and inventing employment and income information to "help" the borrowers qualify.
Who supports McKenna?
According to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), McKenna accepted improper campaign contributions
from the Washington Association of Realtors in his 2008 bid for re-election.
On June 15, 2009 we wrote to McKenna asking him to stop DOL's collusion with
Windermere to flout Washington real estate law. We included specific documented examples. McKenna's office responded that McKenna supports DOL’s decisions on Windermere, McKenna will do
nothing to enforce state law, and McKenna would defend DOL if anyone challenged its decisions. On July 13, we asked our AG correspondent why McKenna thinks it’s OK to allow Windermere to sell a
contaminated meth lab house to unsuspecting buyers without even a hint of administrative
On the one hand ...
Stickney, Realtor, authored an itemized invoice
9, 2004 in which he stated he "[p]rovided
comprehensive overview of costs associated with major cosmetic and some
structural improvements to the subject home so DeCourseys could compare
value when finished to other homes seen in the market place that were
updated, because this home was unacceptable to DeCourseys in as is
other hand ...
Windermere and Stickney's attorney from the Demco law firm, told
the court on 11 June, 2007
that Stickney recommended his business partner, Bob Trustworthy (footnote), for
"cosmetic work and non-structural work" only.
Stickney's 2007 statement was different
from his 2004
third hand ...
Paul H. Stickney's other attorney, heads up her own Skyline Law
Group. On January 14, 2008 she argued to the court that
Stickney's business partner, Bob Trustworthy (footnote),
"was quite capable of
handling the DeCoursey project. He has over 50 years of
experience, has built two homes for himself and four hundred apartments
Stickney's 2008 statement reverts back to his
2004 statement -- a complete 360 degree turn. -- Which proves having
two law firms is not
than having one.
On September 26, 2006,
McNeil "ordered" us to take this web page down and told us: "If anything
good comes of this case, I hope it is to put all contractors and
realtors on notice never to do business with you." She
accused us of attempting to "extort money" from Paul Stickney.
In August, 2008, McNeil famously told our
lawyer that we should accept half our damages in settlement because
"everyone knows [the DeCourseys] are
out of money and can't afford to
go to trial."
Samantha Saul was a Windermere agent on Whidbey Island.
Linda Gabelein was a Windermere agent on Whidbey Island.
Freeland was also the home town of Emma Endicott, an elderly widow who suffered from bouts of
disorganized thinking. Emma knew Linda and Samantha and trusted them. And Emma owned 24 acres of prime
waterfront-view property on Mutiny Bay ... Well now!
Without informing Emma's sons, Samantha secretly persuaded Emma to give her power of attorney over
Emma's property. Then Linda and Samantha persuaded Emma to sell parcels of land to them and their friends at
prices far below market value. For details, see the Windermere Gallery.
When Emma's sons found out, they objected, but John ("So Sue Me") Demco defended his agents' actions
and said the sales were final. Emma's sons were forced to sue. Carolyn Cliff of Langley, WA represented the Endicott sons, while Demco
and his law firm defended the agents.
The facts were now undeniable and the community standards had been voiced. But Windermere and
the Demco Law Firm know no shame. They appealed to Washington Court of Appeals.
On February 4, 2008, the Appeals
Court spelled it out again: Taking advantage of a vulnerable old lady and cheating her of her land is WRONG.
The land the Windermere agents swiped from Emma was returned to her estate, and the agents had to pay legal expenses.
Legally speaking, corporations are persons, and they have personalities. Windermere's
personality is sociopathic: Windermere has a grandiose sense of self and
feels entitled to certain things "by right." It tells lies with ease. It sees others not as people, but as
opportunities to be exploited. The end justifies the means. Windermere lacks remorse, shame or guilt; it has
no conscience. It can change its image as necessary to avoid detection (see for example, the Windermere Mission
Statement, the Windermere
Foundation, and Windermere's Community
What happened when the Washington Department of Licensing was informed of the facts and the court
decisions? Acting more like part of a criminal syndicate than government law enforcement, DOL announced that Linda
and Samantha had not violated any Washington real estate laws.
Question: What's the difference between the Windermere/DOL/Attorney General combine and organized crime?
Is it safe to buy a home in Washington?
In 2003, Theresa McCormick bought a house in western Washington. Her housing inspector did not report 1000
sq. ft. of the toxic black mold and soft rot fungus, Chaetomium, growing in the attic. Ms. McCormick moved into
her new home, soon became sick, and discovered the mold. When she complained to the Washington Dept. of
Agriculture (at that time the supervisory agency of home inspectors), she learned that Washington did not require home
inspectors to mention mold in their reports. Read
Ms. McCormick's story here.
York State understands the problem. What's wrong with Washington? As Ms. McCormick
notes, the corporate headquarters for Weyerhaeuser is located right here in Washington. And we
wouldn't want people to get the idea that wood is a less-than-perfect building material, would we?
attorney for MacPherson's Property Management, Inc., filed an anti-trust
suit against Windermere in 2001. Among other things, MacPherson's
claimed theft of trade secrets. MacPherson
employees photocopied MacPherson's client list and wrote to the clients
announcing they planned to move to Windermere. They urged the
to move their accounts to Windermere, also. Even before they
MacPherson's, these employees were listed on Windermere websites
marketing their property management services.
During depositions, Merrick discovered those
MacPherson employees were
former Windermere employees, sent into MacPherson's as industrial
spies or moles. For details, see the Windermere Gallery.
Marsha J. Pechman, United States
District Court Judge, ruled that MacPherson
client lists were not trade secrets because Windermere could have
gotten the client's names and addresses from public records.
But, Judge, if Windermere could get
the names and addresses from public records, why didn't they? Why was Windermere allowed to
benefit from what most ordinary mortals call "theft?"
Liar Liar, starring Jim Carrey,
delighted movie goers by portraying the hilarious results when a lawyer
was rendered unable to lie for just one day.
of the Washington State Bar Association, was outraged by judicial
tolerance of lawyer misconduct:
and lack of professionalism
Lying (including material omissions verbally and
in pleadings directed to the court and to opposing counsel).
Engaging in intimidation tactics and abuse of the discovery
(including badgering and attempted intimidation of witnesses and
opposing parties and other "Rambo" techniques; name-calling;
threatening CR11 sanctions; brow-beating pro se litigants; failing to
timely file responsive pleadings; failing to submit responsive
pleadings; concealing and destroying evidence; and engaging in
cost-prohibitive litigation intended not to resolve the dispute, but to
force opponents from the fray because of their inability to afford
Mr. Ward also
provides a prescription for this professional disease:
A more assertive
judges is the single most
important factor in fostering professionalism. Judges are the referees
in the justice process. There is no way to abrogate that
responsibility. It is clear that in many cases the litigants are not
just going to work it out among themselves. Breaches of professionalism
and flouting of the rules are akin to corporate policy in some firms.
Unfortunately, it is their culture. - Ward, Pit
Bulls, Pikes, and Pitchforks
had very few customer complaints with the Better Business Bureau. This is an amazing record, considering
Mr. Vader's methods. American business (and consumers) would do well to discover how this was
The corporate tool for a squeeky clean reputation is the "dark clause." Windermere, for
example, asserts that the dark clause is of "utmost importance" in a settlement
agreement. Blackbeard the Pirate was familiar with the concept: "Dead men tell no tales."
At the very minimum, we ask: Shouldn't
judicial office to required to publicly disclose comprehensive and
detailed resumes of their careers? If a candidate for judicial
spent his much of his professional life defending other lawyers who are
caught lying, cheating, and stealing, or real estate agents who swindle
their customers, shouldn't the public know about that?
We are Mark and Carol DeCoursey, and we live
in Redmond, Washington. We are making our
renovation disaster known throughout the country because we've
discovered grave public policy issues are at
stake, not just for the people of Washington, but for homeowners
For years, a Windermere real estate agent
had been funneling his trusting clients to a construction company,
without telling his clients he had an interest in the company, and that
the company was not registered, not insured, and not bonded.
We, too, trusted that agent. He put
together a home purchase and renovation package for us, and brought the
construction company into the deal. As a result, we have been
brought to the edge of financial ruin.
When we went to Windermere and asked them to
make up the damage done, they told us we'd HAVE TO SUE. When we
did, Windermere's in-house law firm used lawyer tricks to stall,
obstruct, and to send our legal bills through the roof.
Welcomes Us to Washington
Back in 2004, we were new to
Washington. We wanted to buy a home but prices were going through
the roof. Unless we acted soon, we'd be forced out of the housing
market. We needed someone we could trust to help us to move
We thought we found that person in
Windermere Realtor Paul H. Stickney. Stickney had been with
Windermere for about ten years and was on the Board of Directors of
Redmond's United Methodist Church. He seemed like a pillar of the
community. We trusted him.
We found a house in Redmond in a perfect
location, on a big lot. The house was structurally sound, but we
didn't want to live there! Built in 1969, it was dark and dreary
. . .
Stickney suggested we might be able to
renovate the house within our budget. He said that Bob
of Trust Me Construction ("TMC", footnote) was
the best contractor he'd seen in
his many years' experience. TMC had a unique pricing structure
brought great value to the consumer, and TMC did superb finish
work. Stickney suggested we meet with Mr. Trustworthy at the
get his opinion.
At the meeting, both Trustworthy and
many suggestions. Stickney wrote down the suggestions and price
ranges for the work as Trustworthy looked on. Based on the
of Messrs. Stickney and Trustworthy, we decided we could afford to buy
house and hire TMC to renovate it.
But Stickney didn't give us some critical
Stickney didn't tell us he was one of the original
incorporators of TMC, a 20% shareholder, and its Vice President. (Click here to see Stickney tell MSNBC's
Undercover: Home Wreckers show that he didn't know he
was Vice President.)
Stickney didn't tell us that he and Trustworthy were
a joint venture to turn six acres of Trustworthy's land, located near
downtown Sammamish, into a shopping mall. Stickney had taken out
a loan in his own name to improve the property, and secured the loan
with the land. Trustworthy agreed to make payments for Stickney
whenever he could. We later discovered that at the time we met
with them in 2004, they were behind on their payments and Stickney was
begging the lender to forgive a payment or two. As we learned
recently, after our money began to flow to TMC, TMC wrote several
checks directly to Stickney and some to the lender.
Stickney didn't tell us that TMC was not registered,
bonded, or insured as required by state law. Remember, Stickney
told us he'd seen TMC's work "for years." (Click here to see Stickney telling MSNBC's
Undercover: Home Wreckers show that he "never paid
attention to the
licensing of any of my subs.")
Stickney didn't tell us that TMC used unlicensed workers to
do plumbing and high voltage electrical work, and that they routinely
worked without building permits and inspections.
Stickney did not tell us he had NEVER seen TMC do
structural work — even though Stickney recommended TMC for structural
work on the home we were considering.
The results? The renovations were a
disaster. Our home does not meet Code, and we cannot obtain an
Occupancy Permit. We cannot sell it.
Trust Me Construction:
Did structural damage to a house that was previously
Used unlicensed persons to do all the plumbing work.
The plumbing work does not meet Code. We've had sewage gurgling
up from the downstairs bath drain
Used unlicensed people to do some of the high voltage
electrical work. The electrical work does not meet Code. In fact, the
metal drain in the upstairs tub had been electrified at up to 110
Volts, AC — enough to kill you
On April 1, 2006, we were served a Summons:
V&E Medical Imaging Services, Inc. ("Automated Home Solutions"),
TMC's high voltage electrical sub-contractor, filed
suit on us claiming they had not been paid by TMC. (We had
already overpaid TMC's bid price by more than $60,000 — there should
have been plenty of money to pay the electricians.)
In response, on April 4, we wrote a
courteous letter to all concerned — including Stickney and
Windermere. We told them what had occurred, and asked that they
make up the damage done to us — without using the courts.
We Get Sued,
We Must Sue ...
On May 18, 2006, we met with Windermere
executives and the Windermere attorney, John Demco, and showed them the
documentation on this webpage. They did not argue with any of our
facts, nor did they deny what Stickney had done. But when we
asked that Windermere make up the damage, Demco told us we'd have to
Why would a corporation like Windermere
force dissatisfied customers to sue? Because when it comes to legal
fees, big corporations like Windermere can spend dissatisfied customers
under the table. Windermere even has what amounts to its own
in-house law firm, the Demco Law Firm. (John Demco is a
When large corporations like Windermere use
pre-tax dollars in court-room battles with individual homeowners, they
have it made in the shade. So Windermere drags its feet and
stalls by inventing bizarre excuses for not producing witnesses for
depositions. Windermere also files idiotic and meritless
pleadings, which of course must be answered, thereby raising legal fees
All Windermere and other large corporations
need do is force the legal bills of private citizens through the roof,
and wait their opponents to cave in.
This is how Windermere protects agents such
as Stickney against the lawsuits Windermere insists be filed.
Windermere Tells Customers, "Suck Up Your Losses, Get On with Your Life"
To give you some context, I personally have been dealing with Kruger now for four years now, and I have come to know him fairly well. I think it would be fair to say that Kruger is consumed with his animosity toward Windermere. He has never accepted the judgment in his 2002 case as final, and he maintains hope that a large settlement with Windermere is just around the corner. I have tried to convince Mr. Kruger that he had his chance with the legal system and needs to live with the result even if he disagrees with it. — RE: Settlement Conference - Windermere v. Kruger, No. 05-34433-4 SEA August 1, 2007, bottom of page 2
But Windermere, John Demco, Demco Law Firm, and Mr. Davis himself do not follow their own advice. For every adverse decision they file a "Motion for Reconsideration;" for every judgment, a "Motion for Retrial;" and for every final judgment, an appeal. The Gallery tells the tale. Like a sociopath, Windermere is never wrong in its own eyes, regardless of the facts of the case.
How can an organization have "the highest of ethical standards" when it is devoid of self-correction?
Windermere's "so sue me" attitude . . .
Perhaps John Jacobi (he's a former
Windermere) and his family are so thick with the
Washington good ol'
boy network that Demco expects Windermere will never get an adverse
decision. Or maybe Demco thought he could waste our legal budget
filings and specious arguments so that we'd never get to trial. (See
right column concerning the tactic used on Gary Kruger.)
The phrase, "so sue me," is the stuff of
comedies, but you rarely hear
of anyone so litigation-eager in real life. So, why did Demco
Civil Rule 11 of the Superior Court of
Seattle states: "(a) . . .
the signature of a party or an attorney constitutes a certificate . . .
that the pleading, motion or legal memorandum . . . is not interposed
for any improper purpose, such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay
or needless increase in the cost of litigation . . ."
Well-heeled corporations famously defeat
legal complaints by out-spending their opponents. Windermere,
"the Northwest's largest real estate firm" violates Rule 11 with
Since we hired a law firm to represent
us in a lawsuit Windermere insisted we file -- at the
time of this writing, January 2009 -- our legal bills stand at
how Windermere handles customer complaints. Windermere insists
sues, and then wipes the customer out. Yeah, that works.
But should it? See RAT HOUSE example, right column.
If You Take Us to Court, We Wreck Your House
Matthew Davis of
the Demco Law Firm (representing Windermere) and another member of our
esteemed Washington Bar threaten to demolish our house if we do not
give up our legal claims.
Windermere's DARK Clause
Sometimes mistakes are made. Sometimes
employees act improperly and customers are damaged. A reputable
company apologizes, makes up the damage, and life goes on.
But things are different with
Windermere. From a few examples we have unearthed, we find that
Conducts a protracted and exhausting legal battle that the
average homeowner can't sustain
Offers settlement at a fraction of the damage
Refuses to cover the expenses of the legal battle
Insists on a "dark clause" in the settlement contract to
guarantee the world will never hear how Windermere betrayed its promise
of The highest ethical standards ... uncompromising honesty and
In such fashion, Windermere's public record is without blemish. Who has ever heard of a
problem? We might as well ask, who complains of the mob? Those who might complain are keeping their silence
in cement gumboots the bottom of the East River. Let us have a look at some of Windermere's "cement gumboot" contracts:
Gary Kruger was sold a property infested with rats. The agent had a history with the
property and knew of the problem. Nevertheless, the agent did not disclose the problem to Kruger. The courts have rule
that a failure to disclose material information when there is a duty to disclose constitutes fraud. When Kruger sued,
Windermere exhausted his legal war chest, then had his claims dismissed on summary judgment. (Full story.) The facts of the case did not see the light of day. When Kruger set about
to tell the public of his experience, Windermere sued him for "trade libel" [case 05-2-34433-4 SEA]. Then Windermere offered
to settle the case, but included a "Dark Clause" to forbid Kruger from further publishing the facts to the public. See the
Kruger Dark Clause. Kruger refused to sign, and Windermere dismissed its own case.
DeCourseys (webmasters of this page) had a complaint and lawsuit against Windermere. On the eve
of trial, Windermere offered to settle for a fraction of the damages
($75,000 of more than $500,000 in damages) with no compensation for legal costs. A "fundamental" part of the
proposal ("of utmost importance to Windermere") was the infamous Dark Clause. See the Dark Clause from that proposed
Note in particular the phrases asserting that the Dark Clause is of "utmost importance" to
Windermere. A single mention of the facts of the incident in question could cause "damage" to Windermere in the
amount of $25,000!
The reader must wonder, how would the daring escape of a lone fact cost Windermere these
terrible losses? Would so many potential customers reconsider their decision to use Windermere if they had all
facts in hand?
So You're Thinking of Suing Windermere?
As mentioned elsewhere, you should be aware that Windermere will try to waste you as the Russians wasted
Napoleon's army, avoiding pitched battle and letting the Russian winter of the courts starve you out. Windermere has a stock
line of arguments they use throughout their cases, including such brilliant legalisms as:
A Windermere agent is not an agent of Windermere
The Washington Law of Real Estate (co-written by Demco) exempts an
agent from fiduciary duty
But you should know also that Windermere has been too clever by half sometimes, dancing out of the legal
frying pan and into the fire. A litigant would do well to study the history of Windermere's arguments. We have some
information that might help. See Forced to Sue a Windermere Franchise, Broker, or Agent?.
Department of Licensing Defies Washington Law
It is a truism: Regulatory agencies
often become captives of the industries and professions they are
convened to regulate. Historian Gabriel Kolko's seminal work, The Triumph
of Conservatism, shows how big business uses regulatory
agencies to stabilize the market and give themselves a competitive
Many government agencies forget that they
exist to protect the public. Instead, they work to advance the
agendas of the industrial, business, and professional interests they
are supposed to oversee.
And what of the Department of Licensing in
the Paul H. Stickney/Windermere Real Estate/SCA matter? Despite
the Jury Verdict of October 30 and
the Judgment of
November 14, DOL refuses to take any disciplinary action on Paul H.
Stickney and Windermere for failing to disclose Stickney's egregious
conflict of interest. DOL even asserts that real estate agents
and brokerages are not bound by Washington's Consumer Protection
Act. In reading this whitewash, we must remember DOL's disclaimer
that "We [DOL] do not have the authority to ... make judicial
determinations. Our remarks to not constitute legal
opinion." (May 8, 2007)
Thanks to the Washington State DOL,
Windermere and Stickney continue to do business among a trusting
Washington public. Notice the phrase used by the DOL: in the May 8, 2007 letter:
the evidence does not rise to the level to support the issuance of
charges against Mr. Stickney's real estate license."
In 2006, the SEC declined to look into
Bernard Madoff because:
because those violations were not so serious as to warrant an
In another case, Windermere demonstrated intimate knowledge of the DOL's day-to-day
activities when the Windermere attorney, Matt Davis, wrote to the court on July 31,
2007. Davis wrote that RAT HOUSE victim, Gary Kruger (see above in
right column) "has hounded the Department of Licensing without success to pursue disciplinary actions against
Windermere." (Page 2, paragraph 5, emphasis added.)
Isn't that amazing? DOL complains to Windermere about a member of the public who is trying to
get DOL to do its lawful job!
Given so many examples of complicit watchdogs, would anyone be surprised to learn multiple
law enforcement agencies are looking the other way to make things easy for the development/real estate/construction
industry? See Home Building
boom relies on illegal workers, The Seattle Times Post-Intelligencer, September 17, 2006 (cached).
Rodney Tom is our state
senator. He is an associate broker
at the Kirkland-Yarrow Bay Windermere office. In 2007, as a newly elected senator, Sen. Tom had impressive
array of committee assignments: vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee; vice chair of the
Judiciary Committee; member of the Ways and Means Committee; and member of the Consumer Protection and Housing
Consumer Protection and House Committee? As a Windermere associate broker, Sen. Tom
boasted of having sold entire sub-divisions for his builder clients. So Sen. Tom had a seat on the very committee
entrusted with protecting consumers from people like Sen. Tom's clients!
Until we attracted public attention to Sen. Tom's questionable committee membership, Rodney Tom's
personal web site included a page entitled "Meet Rodney Tom," which we have
cached here for posterity. The original page is now gone.
On that webpage, Sen. Tom stated that Windermere was "the leading real estate firm in the
Northwest." That is, Tom reminded us that Windermere is ONE company. Its branch offices operate under the
same trade mark, have the same company logo, and share the same company-wide pension fund. They have a
company-wide standards and practices committee, they use the same forms and the same signs, and share the same law firm
and the same insurance plan. Windermere attorneys have argued in court that Windermere is one company and the
court has accepted that argument. (PDF)
In calling Sen. Tom's seat on the Consumer Protection and Housing Committee a conflict of interest,
we caught Windermere's attention. During our July 18, 2007 deposition, Windermere's attorney Matt Davis questioned
us closely on the subject. He asked us WHY we thought Tom's Consumer Protection and Housing Committee assignment
was a conflict of interest. Our opinions on political issues are none of Windermere's business, of course, but
Davis' interest was revelatory.
Sometime in the early months of 2009, the Consumer Protection and Housing Committee was
disbanded. We now have the "Financial Institutions, Housing, and Insurance Committee," and the "Labor, Commerce,
and Consumer Protection Committee." Sen. Tom does not have a seat on either committee.
As a member of Washington's legislature, will Sen. Tom be concerned that the Department of Licensing flouts
the law with regard to Windermere? Will Sen. Tom permit his own vested interests in Windermere to taint his judgment on this
issue? We are hoping he takes the honorable path. On April 15, we wrote to Sen. Tom suggesting he use his Senate
influence to have a Writ of Mandamus filed on the Department of Licensing. On June 11, he
still had not answered, so we wrote a follow-up letter.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people seems to have been replaced by government
of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation. Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and
the Theft of Human Rights by Thom Hartmann tells the story of the loss of democracy in America.
In the contemporary USA, powerful corporations have assumed the role of feudal lords and citizens
have been reduced to serfs. The Renovation Trap website documents some of the destruction inflicted upon
citizens by the real estate/development lobby in the Northwest.
But there are other stories. See National Public Radio's two part series illustrating the
power of the real estate development community in Texas, where the lobby appears to own the legislature and the courts.
Part I: Did Builder's Clout Trap Couple In Dream Home?
Part II: Critics: Texas Agency Favors Builders Over Buyers
Who Chooses Washington's Legislators, Administrators, and Judges?
Windermere acts as though it owns the state. Its victims are many, and its predations bold. See
Windermere-Victims.com. Why do they think they can get away with what they are
doing? Not the Governor, nor the Attorney General, nor the Department of Licensing, nor the mainstream Washington press will
cast a critical eye at Windermere, despite the abundant documentation of its wrongdoing.
Evidence indicates that powerful interest groups — banking, land speculation, and real estate
development interests — play key roles in choosing whom we elect. It has been said that these interest control our
legislature, our executive branch, and our judiciary. Here are some articles of interest.
In a famous case in California in 2002, Nike, Inc. argued that as a corporation, it had all the Constitutional rights of
a "person," including the right to lie in its advertizing. The Supreme Court dodged the question by ruling that Nike's statements were
"commercial speech" rather than Constitutionally protected speech.
Not all legal experts agree with that citizens and corporations have a right to lie.
"Publicly support those judges who demand truthfulness and honesty from all who appear in court and who impose
meaningful sanctions for offenders." — Dale R. Harris, President, National Conference of Bar Presidents, Do Lawyers Lie?, published in
The Colorado Lawyer September 2000 Vol. 29, No. 9 [Page 19]
But what happens when you tell the Presiding Judge of the King County Superior Court that a lawyer is
lying, and offer the judge evidence?
Judge Bruce Hilyer's office returns your letter and documentation, and tells you he's not
interested! (Upcoming article.)
Guest Editorial from Judges Above The Law
One hand washing the other is the successful formula for
good ol' boy networks everywhere
Until three years ago, Michael Kathrein
truly believed courtrooms were places where
judges listened to the facts carefully and decided cases honestly.
Then he got the lesson of his life.
A judge in his case could, and did,
cheat. Opposing counsels could, and
did, cheat. And once they coordinated their cheating, no fact,
procedure could save him. He was set up to lose.
When you think of a "corrupt" judge, you may
think of one who trades
rulings for cash. As far as we know, that obvious sort of
rare. You must appreciate however, that corruption may take
equally destructive forms.
Among other things, a dishonest judge can
ignore evidence, twist rules
and procedure, obstruct the record, retaliate, manufacture facts or
ignore others, allow infirm claims or dismiss valid ones, deny
admission of evidence prejudicial to the favored party, suborn perjury,
mischaracterize pleadings, engage in ex parte communication and
misapply the law.
When he or she does these things
intentionally, (motivation is a
separate issue) he commits a crime. Petty or grand, the acts are
crimes. It takes surprisingly little to "steer" a case. More ...
The Washington Messenger "Don't Blame the Messenger"
March, 19, 2010: "Wide Open Government -- For Big Business." Flier distributed to WA Attorney General's Office and others.
February 15, 2010: "Crime Syndicate in Washington?" Flier distributed to WA Legislature and others.
7/24/09: Option-based enforcement - McKenna’s Asst. Atty. Gen. Campbell dodged
our questions: "My role is to give the Department option-based advice, but any advice I give my client is subject to the
attorney-client privilege." And we thought the AG's clients were the people of Washington.
7/13/09: Meth lab? Why not? - We ask Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna’s office why it's OK
for Windermere to sell a contaminated meth lab as a residence without disclosing the facts
to the buyers — and why it's OK for the Department of Licensing to sit by and do nothing.
7/2/09: Laws? What laws? - Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna’s office writes that it supports the
decisions of the Department of Licensing, it will do nothing to ensure that state law is enforced by the DOL, and it will defend
the DOL in court if anyone challenges DOL decisions.
6/15/09: Dear Rob, can you help? - We write to Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna charging
that the Department of Licensing is in collusion with Windermere to flout Washington real estate law; we ask McKenna to help
enforce the law.
6/24/09: State Senator Rodney Tom Calling - Sen. Windermere Tom called us at home, accused
us of lying about him, refused to help break up the Windermere/DOL syndicate, and denied he is a Windermere associate
broker. Our response.
6/11/09: Our letter of reprimand to Sen. Rodney Tom. Eight weeks have passed
since our April 15 letter asking for Tom’s help enforcing state law on the Windermere
syndicate. Tom has not answered despite numerous follow-up telephone calls and requests for an appointment.
5/21/09: Gov. Gregoire - In answer to our complaint about DOL complicity with Windermere, Gregoire allows DOL to speak for her. We note that she appointed three Windermere agents to the state Real Estate Commission.
5/15/09: Will DOL give up its secrets? - The Department of Licensing has
responded to our request for documents on some of the culpable agents in the Windermere
Gallery. The DOL wants another four weeks to sanitize the files, but we insist on
knowing why DOL gave these licensees a clean bill of health. See DOL section below.
5/12/09: The Windermere Gallery - How does Windermere compare against its advertized
lofty ideals? We examine some recent cases — names, dates, and victims.
5/2/09: The Windermere Cup - Members of Victims of Windermere (VOW) and the
Society for Ethical Treatment of Homeowners (SETH) were out in force distributing the Windermere
Way flier to the crowds. (Seattle Weekly blog)
4/15/09: Writ of Mandamus - We like Senator Rodney Tom. But does
Windermere's senator have the uncompromising honesty and integrity to require the Department of Licensing to enforce the
law on Windermere?
3/14/09: Blocking access to the courts - Possibly in reaction to our case, the
Washington House of Representatives (many members of which are beholden to the real estate/development lobby) tried to block home
buyers' access to the courts. See The Messenger, March 14, 2009.
3/10/09: AIG backs Windermere's bond - The (in)famous insurance firm AIG
has stepped up to the plate to guarantee Windermere's $1.5 million bond. A supersedeas bond is a guarantee from a
judgment debtor that if an appeal is not successful, the judgment will be paid promptly in full. But AIG? ... Ah,
1/23/09Attorney fees awarded - The trial judge awarded DeCourseys more
than $508,427 in costs and attorney fees. (Seattle Weekly blog)
1/21/09Enough is never enough! - Windermere announces it take the
case to the Washington Court of Appeals.
12/5/08Let's do it again - Windermere asked the court to restart the trial from
beginning, or else roll back the award. Among other things, Windermere alleged the jury instructions had the wrong
caption. What the hey, they had to ask.
10/30/08The verdict is in - The 12-man jury found Windermere and Stickney
breached fiduciary duty and violated the Consumer Protection Act, and awarded us $522,200 in damages, case
no. 06-2-24906-2-SEA. (Seattle Weekly)
Our story featured on MSNBC Undercover: Home Wreckers - debuted October 24, 2007 and rerun at least eight times since.
Windermere has a
unique business plan (or maybe not so unique):
Windermere holds that the agents are independent
contractors, not agents of Windermere
Windermere brokers do not learn of a transaction until
after settlement — Windermere brokers know only the papers the agents
put in front of them
If a customer has a complaint, Windermere calls in the
As Windermere lawyer John Demco said, you'll have to sue
And when you sue, Windermere will use every legalistic
stall and obstruction they can. They will waste your money on
frivolous filings and bogus claims, sending your legal bills through
Demco's lawyers claim the brokers are not answerable to
Windermere clients for improper conduct of the agents
Demco argues that TMC's government documents naming
Stickney as Vice President are "just a piece of paper."
Demco also argued that our damages were not caused by
Stickney lying to us and failing to disclose his conflicts of interest
— our damages (if any) were caused by poor construction. That's
like arguing that the gunman didn't kill the victim, the bullet did.
When dissatisfied Windermere customer Gary Kruger spoke
publicly about his experience, Windermere sued him for "trade
libel." What else could a self-respecting billionaire corporation
Learn about the RAT HOUSE a Windermere agent sold to
unsuspecting customer, Gary Kruger. Documents show the Windermere agent, George Rudiger, knew of the home's prior rat
history when he sold the house, but did not warn Mr. Kruger. For details, see the Windermere Gallery.
agent, says of himself, "you need an experienced, knowledgeable
professional to get the job done."
When Kruger moved into his newly purchased house, he suffered a severe
allergic reaction and then discovered the rat problem. A rat
abatement specialist found rat nests behind the walls, dozens of dead
rat carcasses, electrical wires chewed by rats (causing a fire hazard),
and subfloors and interior walls soaked with rat urine. The
stench was so bad, the pest man said respirators should be worn by
anyone working on the house.
Kruger hired an attorney and sued Windermere
Northeast, Realtor George Rudiger, and broker Joan Whittaker [case
02-2-28184-2 SEA]. He
spent $40,000 on legal fees.
Windermere then filed a summary
judgment motion and Kruger's attorney demanded another
$25,000. But Kruger had run out of money and couldn't pay.
So his attorney dropped him and the judge threw out Kruger's claims,
despite the facts of the
When Kruger spoke publicly about
Windermere sued him for defamation and "trade libel." In both
cases, Windermere was represented by Matt Davis (see below).
Vila Pace-Knapp trusted Windermere, but
never again. In 2001, Windermere Agent Dick Pelascini offered to
save her home from foreclosure. The home soon belonged to
Pelascini, and Pace-Knapp and her handicapped son were evicted (see Trial
Brief). "She ultimately lost the home to the speculators who
set her up," said Judge Barnett. Pace-Knapp won the case in
Weekly, April 01, 2008).
Windermere appealed the decision, but still
failed to get the desired dismissal. In December, the Washington
Supreme Court refused Windermere's petition to review the case yet
again. For details, see the Windermere Gallery.
Believe it or not, the Windermere agent, Dick
Pelascini, still works as a Realtor for Windermere Bellevue Commons.
Davis made the same argument when defending
Realtors David Hopkins and Joann McCann, agents of Windermere
Northeast. The two Realtors with their broker, Joan
Whittaker, were accused by dissatisfied customers Julie Campbell and
her husband of forging a legal description of their land: In the very pleading in
which Davis was defending the agents, he denied that Windermere had "any
agency relationship with" the agents.
While Davis dishes up such nonsense to the
tries to get real evidence ignored. In our case, Davis
court to strike two of our Declarations from the court's
consideration. The court decided against Davis. To see the
Declarations Windermere wanted ignored,
Of course, we had to answer Davis' motion, and
up go the legal costs. When Davis did not get the decision he
wanted, he asked the court to characterize comments from the bench as
rulings, and THAT motion had to be
answered. And up, up, up go the legal costs.
Washington - a state where no good deed goes
Supreme Court Justice
Bobbe Bridge was
arrested on charges of drunken driving and hit-and-run after
leaving the scene of an accident about a mile from her home in the
Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. See Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, March 2, 2003, Bridge
arrested for drunken driving
Bridge is also noted for creating
factoids when she wrote a majority decision denying a motion
brought by Tacoma lawyer Doug Schafer (above). Schafer's law
suspended for six months when he reported that a Pierce County
judge was on the take. He appealed the decision. In the opinion,
Judge Bridge wrote:
ruled that Schafer's petition was frivolous and without merit, and
assessed $ 1,000 in attorney fees against Schafer's client."
Schafer asserts there was no such ruling, and
that he had written no such petition. See To
Kill A Messenger
Justice Brent D. Benjamin of the West
Virginia Supreme Court refuses to recuse himself from $15 million case between two coal companies. Justice Benjamin cast the
deciding vote in the case in favor of the larger company — having earlier accepted more than $3 million in campaign
contributions from the CEO of the same company. With accusations of impropriety from another judge on the same court and cries of outrage from coast to coast, the case went to the
Supreme Court of the United States. That court decided that Judge Benjamin
should have recused himself.
"If the public believes that judges can be bought," said Keith R. Fisher, a lawyer for the American
Bar Association, "that is really poisonous and undermines public confidence in an independent judiciary."
Public confidence may be very important to Mr. Fisher (since he is in the trade), but for the rest of
us, a judiciary free of corruption takes higher precedence.
Edith Hollan Jones, Chief Judge of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, told the Harvard
Law School in a February
2004 address that the American legal system is corrupt beyond
"An increasingly visible and vocal number [of
lawyers] apparently believe that the strategic use of anger and
incivility will achieve their aims. Others seem uninhibited about
making misstatements to the court or their opponents or destroying or
falsifying evidence," she claimed. "When lawyers cannot be
trusted to observe the fair processes essential to maintaining the rule
of law, how can we expect the public to respect the process?"
She also stated, "Lawsuits are brought that
ultimately line the pockets of lawyers rather than their clients.
The lawsuit is not the best way to achieve social justice, and to think
it is, is a seriously flawed hypothesis. There are better ways to
achieve social goals than by going into court."
Roger C. Cramton, Professor of Law
Emeritus at Cornell University, wrote in the 1970s that "the ordinary
religion of the law school classroom" is "a moral relativism tending
toward nihilism, a pragmatism tending toward an amoral instrumentalism,
a realism tending toward cynicism, an individualism tending toward
atomism, and a faith in reason and democratic processes tending toward
mere credulity and idolatry."
"Judges were simply not intended by our
Founders to have the power to make laws. It is impossible for any
rational person to read our nation's Constitution without finding a
clearly expressed intent that the powers of government be apportioned
between its three branches, the legislative, the executive, and the
judiciary. The lawmaking power was crystal clear — not delegated
to judges." (pg. 17.)
Molloy also lamented that the legal fraternity
has fallen away from pursing the ideals of truth and justice to become
a money-making ventures, with top spoils going to the cleverest
"The unique symbiotic relationship between
bench and bar has resulted in making a game of our trials, a game
played by clever and expensive lawyers whose skills in technical rules
and in salesmanship control the outcome. Today's judges do not
interfere with the games lawyers play. In my early contacts with
our judicial system, I witnessed much more of an independent,
truth-seeking attitude from trial judges ..." (pg. 14.)