Court declines to appoint White House receiver
NEWFANE- Windham County Court Judge John Treadwell has denied a motion by Robert Grinold to appoint a receiver to care for the White House of Wilmington property currently under foreclosure.
Grinold, the former owner and current mortgage holder of the White House, filed for foreclosure on the Hermitage-owned property in May 2017, claiming James Barnes and the Hermitage were in default of the mortgage, owing $1,371,692 in principal and interest.
In his motion seeking the appointment of a receiver and an accompanying affidavit, filed on May 9, Grinold indicated his chief concern and motivation was that the Hermitage had allowed casualty and fire insurance on the property lapse. Grinold said he spent several hours trying to get the property insured and was advised by several insurance agents that they would not be able to insure the property because it was vacant and unattended. “The appointment of a receiver will allow me to obtain insurance, as the receiver can designate a groundskeeper and oversee the property,” Grinold said in his affidavit.
In the motion, Grinold's attorney David Dunn wrote that “The inn is closed and the property is not insured. If a casualty were to occur, (Grinold) would have no recourse , except to (the Hermitage) which is currently the subject of another receivership motion.”
In testimony during the motion hearing on May 15, however, Grinold said that he had been able to obtain insurance shortly before the hearing, however, at a higher cost than if the property were occupied by a caretaker. His testimony during the hearing focused on other concerns, including neglected maintenance and security issues as reasons to appoint a receiver.
In the decision, released on Friday, May 18, Judge Treadwell noted that the White House foreclosure action is approaching its conclusion, and should be resolved soon. At the May 15 hearing, Judge Treadwell granted Grinold's motion for summary judgment on the foreclosure, as well as a motion to shorten the redemption period to 30 days. “The court has ordered judgment for (Grinold) in this action. The redemption period is set for 30 days. If (the Hermitage) does not redeem the property, a judicial sale will be held. The final resolution of this proceeding will likely occur within a matter of a very few months.”
According to Vermont law cited in the decision, the court may appoint a receiver if the plaintiff (Grinold) demonstrates it is necessary to preserve the value of the property during foreclosure. Given Grinold's success in obtaining insurance and the foreclosure judgment in his favor, Grinold's remaining concerns regarding maintenance and security were not enough to warrant a receiver, according to Judge Treadwell. “The primary argument in (Grinold's) motion for appointment of a receiver was the absence of a receiver for the inn. As noted above, this is no longer a concern. (Grinold) has also identified the possibility of damage or theft as grounds for appointment of a receiver. The foreclosure action involves a single property – it is similar to numerous other actions seeking foreclosure on a single vacant commercial or residential building. The court cannot find that vacancy of such a structure is sufficiently unusual to warrant exercise of the extraordinary remedy of receivership.”