A Silicon Valley titan is refusing to come to court and testify about blocking public access to a popular surf spot.
Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla is being sued by the Surfrider Foundation over the closing of Martin’s Beach, just south of Half Moon Bay.
The legal fight is due to go to court on Monday.
At one point, there used to be a sign welcoming the public to Martin’s Beach. But after Khosla bought the land in 2008, it was painted over and the public was warned to stay out.
On Thursday, when a lot of people were heading to the beach, Martin’s Beach stood empty – nobody was riding the waves at this once popular spot. Now, days before the Surfrider’s lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in San Mateo County Court, Khosla’s attorneys are saying he doesn’t have to appear to testify.
The plaintiffs disagree.
“Mr. Khosla should obey the same laws that everybody else in California obeys,” said Robert Caughlan, one of the founders of the Surfrider Foundation, which is suing to reopen access to the beach.
Lawyers for Surfriders subpoenaed Khosla as a witness in the lawsuit, but this week, his lawyers filed a response asking the court to quash the subpoena because Khosla is “a non-party” to the action.
Calls to Khosla and his attorneys for comment weren't immediately returned.
Peninsula attorney Joe Cotchett, who is representing Surfrider, says that the operating agreement for Martin’s Beach LLC shows that the only members of the corporation are Khosla and his wife.
Cotchett says he’ll ask the court to compel the Silicon Valley billionaire to testify.
“Who is it that lives above the law in the state of California?” he said.
Khosla was in the news last week because of a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that alleged that a Stanford University graduate was blackmailing his daughter over nude photographs he took of her while they were dating.
Khosla's daughter wasn't named in the court documents, but the Smoking Gun identified the victim as his daughter.