The attorneys of this practice group, headed by Michael Dolich, represent a number of insurance carriers and their planned community development association and property management company insureds in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in a wide range of matters. We understand the unique nature of community living and the impact of litigation on these communities and the associations which govern them.
We have handled litigation involving a variety of issues pertaining to condominium and homeowners’ associations and their insurance policies, including property damage claims, premises liability suits, directors and officers errors and omissions claims, waiver of subrogation claims, shareholders derivative actions and defamation suits. Among our representative cases are the following:
We successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of a homeowners association in a suit filed by a unit owner who alleged there was an unfair board election. The claim was defeated by arguing that the unit owner did not have standing to sue. This is a strategy that corporations have used to obtain dismissals of shareholder derivative actions. In the context of community associations, the individual unit owner is analogous to a shareholder in a corporation. We argued, and the court agreed, that an aggrieved unit owner is not entitled to individually seek to remedy an association-wide issue unless the claim could be brought as a derivative action. As the matter proceeded, it became apparent that other association members were not aggrieved by the issue about which the plaintiff complained. Thus, the matter was dismissed.
We obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a homeowners association in a CEPA whistle-blower case. A former employee of the association had alleged that she was constructively terminated after disclosing what she viewed as an improper business relationship between a board member and a vendor of the association. The plaintiff presented evidence that the board member had not obtained three bids for the work, as required by the by-laws, but rather, had awarded association business to his friend, who had not submitted a bid. The jury found that the plaintiff was not constructively discharged and entered a verdict in favor of the board.
We successfully obtained summary judgment, which was affirmed on appeal, on behalf of a business condominium association based on a waiver of subrogation provision in the by-laws. The suit arose from a claim that the association was negligent in maintaining a common water pipe that leaked, causing water damage to the unit below. The appellate court had to determine the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The association’s by-laws required the association to carry insurance on the building and required the unit owners to carry insurance on their personal property. All policies were required to waive subrogation rights, cutting off the rights of the insurance companies to pursue actions against the parties responsible for damage. The court concluded that these provisions demonstrated that the condominium by-laws were validly drafted with the intent of preventing unit owners and the association from suing each other over damage to their respective properties.
For more information, contact Michael Dolich at email@example.com or 856-673-3462.