The law firm Cheifetz Iannitelli Marcolini, P.C. recently handled two significant homeowners’ association disputes in 2008 that resulted in favorable results for the homeowner.
The first case, The Foothills Community Association v. Lantry, began in March 2005 when the HOA filed a lawsuit against a homeowner who had already put his home on the market for sale. The Lantrys had lived in the community for ten years, however they had an ongoing dispute with their next-door neighbor. That neighbor became a board member, which led to a flurry of complaints from the HOA. The complaints made it obvious the HOA was targeting the Lantrys, as they were getting cited for things that virtually every other home in the community had. For instance, the Lantrys were cited for having a bench in their front yard, yet the HOA’s President had the exact same bench in her front yard. The Lantrys therefore defended against the HOA’s claim arguing that the HOA was selectively enforcing the CC&Rs against them, engaging in harassment, targeting the Lantrys, and that the HOA had breached its fiduciary duty to the Lantrys. Ultimately, the Lantrys obtained $20,000 in damages on their counterclaim against the HOA.
The Lantrys moved out of the community only three months after the HOA filed its lawsuit. The Lantrys thought their move would put the matter to rest, but the HOA persisted in trying to collect its attorneys’ fees from the Lantrys. The HOA lost its motion for summary judgment because its lawsuit was moot due to the Lantrys’ move. Still, the HOA and its attorney persisted. Nearly three years later, the HOA had expended approximately $100,000 in attorneys’ fees! The final result? Both parties finally agreed to “walk away.” The HOA recovered nothing and the Lantrys recovered $20,000. We speculate that other residents in the HOA wonder why on earth the HOA spent $100,000 on attorneys’ fees against a homeowner that no longer lived there, to ultimately recover nothing.
The second case, Save Apache Wells v. Apache Wells HOA, involved a large group of residents coming together to stand up against their HOA. 93 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the HOA’s election whereby it claimed to have obtained approval for a special assessment in the amount of $8.5 million dollars (approximately $6,000 per resident). The Plaintiffs contended that the HOA did not obtain the required approval because it did not obtain a sufficient number of votes. The Plaintiffs filed for summary judgment on this issue, and prevailed in all respects. The election was declared invalid and the special assessment was refunded or not collected. The end result? The HOA paid the Plaintiffs $50,000 for their attorneys’ fees, which were incurred fighting against this HOA because it simply would not relent without a Court ruling.
Melanie C. McKeddie, Esq.
Cheifetz Iannitelli Marcolini P.C.
1850 North Central Avenue, 19th Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85004