Clark County claims the owners of two adjacent homes advertised as a nude resort have spent months evading being served a lawsuit aimed at shutting them down, according to a new court filing.
Process servers have made more than two dozen failed attempts since May to serve Dewey and Julie Wohl in Las Vegas and Southern California, county attorney Robert Warhola wrote in the filing.
“The Wohls suddenly disappeared and cannot be found at any of their known in-state and out-of-state residential or business addresses,” wrote Warhola in a filing submitted Monday.
An attorney representing the Wohls said the couple is not evading service.
“They’re around. They talk to me regularly,” attorney R. Christopher Reade said. “I didn’t even know (the county) had tried to serve them.”
In November, county code enforcement officers investigated two adjacent homes owned by the Wohls in the 2400 block of East Harmon Avenue. The officers found business cards linking to a website containing photos of the property and advertising “the world’s sexiest clothing-optional lifestyles club.”
The county sued in April, accusing the Wohls of running an unlicensed motel, nightclub and spa out of the homes. The suit requests that a Clark County District Court judge shut down the business and order the couple to pay more than $15,000 in unpaid taxes, fees and interest.
Process servers have served three companies owned by the Wohls and named as co-defendants in lawsuit, Warhola’s filing states. But the county could have a major problem if the Wohls aren’t served individually, said law professor Thomas Main, an expert in civil procedure who teaches at UNLV.
Any court order shutting down their businesses could be sidestepped by opening a new company, Main said.
“The court can’t order somebody to do something unless they’re a party in the lawsuit. That’s a basic part of due process,” he said. “With your lawsuit you want your equitable relief to reach the operators of the business, not merely the business itself.”
Reade submitted a court filing last month stating the Wohls’ businesses are protected under the First Amendment right to practice religion and to assemble. The attorney has said the homes are being used for religious gatherings, and a sign hanging out front reads “Zen Temple Las Vegas.”
“The defendants wanted to make clear they are not waiving any defenses that might be relevant in this case,” he said of the court filing.