Are Your HOA Volunteers Covered for Injuries?

Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) rely on the efforts of their volunteer directors, officers, and committee members to perform all manner of tasks needed in assisting the HOA with its operations. Participation by these HOA volunteers in common tasks such as site inspections, including slope inspections, landscape committee walk-throughs, and even meeting room set up and take […]

Reconsidering The “Open And Obvious” Doctrine: Implications Of The Michigan Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision

In a significant ruling that affects property owners throughout the state, including Michigan’s community associations, the Michigan Supreme Court substantially altered premises liability law. On July 28, 2023, the Court ruled in the cases of Kandil-Elsayed v. F & E Oil, Inc. and Pinsky v. Kroger, overturning the long-established “open and obvious” doctrine.   Read the […]

Is a Michigan Condo or HOA Liable for Criminal Acts of Third-Parties?

Whether there is an increase in violent crime or an increase in reporting and coverage of crime, it seems that our lives are constantly being inundated and interrupted with reports of violent activities. Your home is your castle, your safe space. But imagine the worst-case scenario where a crime occurs and that sense of safety […]

Reach for the Sky! — Civil Liability and Insurance Cost and Coverage Implications of Shootings and Other Violent Criminal Acts in Common Areas (CO)

How concerned should Colorado common interest communities be about civil liability arising from third-party criminal acts committed on the Common Elements?  Until recently, a common answer may have been something like: Not terribly concerned at all, especially in communities where individual owners share fractional, undivided interests in the Common Elements.   Read the article………………………..

Woman Claims Critical Injury On Bench Press (FL)

The G.L. Homes community of Valencia Reserve is being sued by a homeowner who claims she was critically injured on fitness equipment that should have been maintained — but wasn’t. The suit names Valencia Reserve Homeowners Association and Total Health Systems as the Defendants. G.L. built but does not run the community.   Read the article………………………..

New Law Limits Premises Liability Related to Criminal Activity (FL)

A new law, which became effective on March 24, 2023, is intended to limit the liability of the owner or principal operator of a multifamily residential property for criminal acts that occur on the premises which are committed by third parties who are neither employees nor agents of the owner or operator.   Read the article………………………..

Is There Liability for Dangerous Wild Animals in Your Community? (FL)

With the ever-increasing development in Florida, especially in South Florida, we are once again reminded that we live in close proximity to a number of native, exotic, invasive, and at times dangerous wild animals. Tragically, and all too recently, in St. Lucie County an 85-year-old woman died while trying to rescue her dog from an […]

Can an Insurance Broker Be Liable if a Loss Is Not Covered by Insurance?

What happens when, due to a negligent error by the insurance broker, a business suffers property damage that is either not covered, or not fully covered, by what the insured thought was an insurance policy they purchased through the broker to cover the risk? Can the insured look to its insurance broker to cover the […]

Florida Professional Service LLC Personal Liability Protections: Perks and Pitfalls

Managers and members who provide professional services in Florida often choose to organize their businesses into Limited Liability Companies (“LLCs”) because LLCs generally provide freedom from personal liability for the obligations of the LLC. This blog post discusses exceptions to the general prohibition on holding LLC members or managers personally liable for the LLC’s obligations […]

‘Wrongful Acts’ Includes Both Negligent and Intentional Acts (IL)

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, applying Illinois law, has held that an insurer had a duty to defend an insured condominium association and its board members against an underlying lawsuit because the association’s board members allegedly committed “Wrongful Acts” under the directors and officers coverage part of a business […]

How a court ruling in a double homicide could cost condo owners millions (MA)

AJuly decision by a Superior Court judge could open the door to holding condominium associations responsible for the safety and security of building occupants if the threat is reasonably foreseeable.  And that could mean big costs for condo owners if properties are found to be negligent.    Read the article………………………..

Association Not Liable for Injuries from Accident on Owner’s Lot (MO)

Michael Reddick filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his parents (the owners of the property where he lived) and the neighbor in 2017. Reddick alleged that his wife fell off an unguarded three-foot high retaining wall on the night of December 30, 2016, while walking her dog, causing her death.  Read the article………………………..

Condo Column: A limit on liability (NH)

Well, this is good news. I am involved in a slip and fall case at a condominium association where the boyfriend of an owner allegedly slipped and fell on a porch and injured his ankle. Almost three years after the incident, which was never reported to the association, the boyfriend filed suit claiming negligence on […]

How Much Liability Insurance Can Co-op and Condo Boards Require? (NY)

Most New York City co-op and condo boards typically require shareholders and unit-owners to carry $300,000 to $500,000 in liability insurance, Jeffrey Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage, tells Brick Underground. The cost is about $25 to $50 per year and is purchased as part of a comprehensive homeowners insurance policy.   Read the article………………………..

Are owners’ baked goods a liability concern? (IL)

Q: From time to time, owners in our building bake things like bread, cookies and cakes, and leave them on a table in our lobby for other residents to enjoy. The board is concerned about liability exposure for the association if we allow this. Should the board be concerned?  Read the Q&A……………………………….

Serving Alcohol at HOA Events

Summer is almost upon us! And, with it comes a plethora of exciting community events: barbecues, pool parties, music in the park concerts, movie nights, and so much more! Especially during weekend events, your community may be tempted to serve alcoholic beverages. Homeowners may request it, and social committees may conclude that these drinks will […]

Community Association Liable for Negligently Installed and Maintained Bollard (FL)

In one recent appellate court case, J.L. Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Schnurr, 2022 WL 39421 (Fla. 4th DCA, January 5, 2022), a developer was found not liable for injuries sustained by a bicyclist who collided with bollards installed by the developer on an association’s common area promenade.   Read the entire article……………………………….

HOA board members who do repairs create liability issues (NV)

Q: Have you written any articles regarding any statute language or simply listing reasons why board members should not do work, such as painting or simple maintenance repairs to the community? I am reaching out to the current insurance provider to get their opinion.  Read the Q&A……………………………….

Lifeguard Shortages: What HOAs Should Consider

Q:  Our community is having difficulty finding lifeguards to staff the pools this summer. How can we minimize liability if we choose the “swim-at-your-own-risk” approach? Read the Q&A……………………………….

Condominium Association Liable for Construction Defect it Had a Duty to Maintain

The plaintiff, James Schnurr, and his wife were riding their bicycles in the Jonathan’s Landing community when Mr. Schnurr struck a bollard that was installed just before the promenade they were riding along crossed a roadway. Mr. Schnurr fell off his bicycle and fractured his neck.   Read the entire article……………………………….

How Can the Board of Directors of an HOA Be Held Liable?

An HOA board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the association. They’re tasked with upholding the governing documents and the rules of the association. There’s also the business judgment rule that says if the board receives expert advice on a topic, and they follow that expert advice, it provides them with a level of […]

Is a Condo Association Liable For Co-Owner Dog Bites? (MI)

Most condominium bylaws will contain some form of restrictions on animals. Enacting animal restrictions is a prudent approach for condominium and homeowners association to protect the members of their community. However, the adoption and enforcement of animal restrictions are not a guarantee that a dog will not bite another animal or human.   Read the entire […]

Avoiding Disaster: Strategies to Limit Liability Risk in the Wake of the Surfside Condominium Collapse (CO)

In the wake of the Surfside condominium catastrophe, many communities are grappling with how to address risks associated with aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Among the many lessons learned, the importance of deliberate and long-term financial planning and the avoidance of deferred maintenance may be one of the most paramount.   Read the entire article……………………………….

FBI Busts $31 Million Trip-and-Fall Insurance Scam (NY)

Two doctors and two lawyers have been indicted on charges that they ran a sophisticated $31 million fraud scheme that recruited more than 400 homeless people and drug addicts to stage trip-and-fall accidents, then undergo unnecessary surgical procedures. Personal-injury lawsuits and falsified insurance claims were then filed against the owners of the targeted properties, possibly […]

Florida Laws May Complicate Assigning Liability in Surfside Condo Collapse

The collapse of a condominium tower near Miami will set off years of litigation as victims and their families look to find fault among the building’s management as well as engineers, architects and others, according to legal experts.  Disaster struck in Surfside, Florida, on June 24 as a major repair project was beginning, although the […]

Miami Condo Collapse Raises Questions of California Liability for Dangerous Property

The horribly tragic Miami condo collapse raises questions about liability for dangerous property in California. The legal theory that covers injury from dangerous property is called premises liability. In other words, I have been thinking about who is responsible for this horrific condo collapse that has taken so many lives, and who would be liable […]

Liability lessons learned from the tragic collapse of Florida’s Champlain Towers

Over the years I have driven through many cities and towns in Florida, vacationing in condos just like the Champlain Towers in Surfside. Most of the multi-story structures in Florida are made of concrete; block buildings held together with fortress-like strength with mortar, rebar, poured concrete lintels, pillars, and fasteners of every type.     Read […]

Increased Force Majeure claims Due to Covid-19 (CO)

Force majeure (a French term that literally means ‘greater force’, is related to the concept of an act of God or an event for which no party can be held accountable. It is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an unforeseeable circumstance or event occurs that […]

Is Your HOA Gate Opening To Increased Liability? (FL)

When a community has an entrance gate, it is almost inevitable that the association will at some point deal with the issue of whether it is responsible for damage to a vehicle which occurred when someone was entering or exiting the gate. The primary question to resolve in assessing liability in such a circumstance is […]

Slip and Fall on Sidewalk in Housing Cooperative (MI)

In dismissing a slip and fall case that occurred in a common area, the Michigan Court of Appeals delved into the differences between a housing cooperative and a condominium. Jeffrey-Moise v. Williamsburg Towne Houses Cooperative, Inc., No. 351813, 2021 WL 650475 (Mich. Court of Appeals, approved for publication on April 1, 2021).     Read the […]

Is Your HOA Gate Opening to Increased Liability? (FL)

When a community has an entrance gate, it is almost inevitable that the association will at some point deal with the issue of whether it is responsible for damage to a vehicle which occurred when someone was entering or exiting the gate. The primary question to resolve in assessing liability in such a circumstance is […]

Umbrella Insurance Policies Have Sprung a Leak (NY)

Co-op and condo boards seeking protection from excess liability – such as a serious injury to a worker during a facade project – are finding that the umbrella policies of yesteryear, with their high coverage limits and relatively low premiums, are a thing of the past. In today’s so-called “hard” insurance market, the math has […]

Property Damage Claim and General Liability Coverage/Denial (CA)

When there is a potential for litigation regarding property damage, your association’s legal counsel will sit down with the Board of Directors to analyze whether the alleged property damage resulted from the association’s negligence in any form. If the association is put on notice of a potential negligence claim, it is advisable to immediately report […]

Navigating the Insurance Liability Claim Minefield

We have faced a lot of new frontiers as a community this year—Zoom meetings, increased digital sharing of information, how to safely open community common areas, how to allow business partners to complete their work at the community without disrupting concerned residents—all while handling the additional influx of action items and working in a new […]

HOA Volunteer Projects: Cost-Saving or Liability in Waiting? (CO)

It is not uncommon for HOA Boards to need and want additional help with projects around their HOA community. This help often can come in the form of volunteer Homeowners and self-help projects undertaken by Board members. While this form of help can be cost-saving for many HOAs, the Boards must consider the potential liability […]

Navigating the Insurance Liability Claim Minefield (CO)

We have faced a lot of new frontiers as a community this year—Zoom meetings, increased digital sharing of information, how to safely open community common areas, how to allow business partners to complete their work at the community without disrupting concerned residents—all while handling the additional influx of action items and working in a new […]

Contractors using Subcontractors and Your Community Liability

It’s inevitable: at some point, a community association needs to hire a contractor. Some need their contractors for standard maintenance, others hire help for repair after an emergency or national disaster; but no matter why your HOA is looking into hiring a contractor, you should know that they don’t always work alone. Contractors oftentimes hire […]

Liability Insurance and COVID-19 – Are They Mutually Exclusive? (CO)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, our land of HOA Struggles is no different. As boards are busy trying to decide whether pools and playgrounds will be open this season, they oftentimes forget to look at the issue of liability insurance and whether they would be protected should an owner […]

Condominium Found To Have No Liability Coverage When Association Member Sues Association Which Contains Certain Exclusions

A recent case decision, Mt. Hawley Insurance Company v. Aquasol Condominium Association, Inc.,1 should have all association board members, condominium property managers, and condominium general counsel asking their insurance agents what will happen if their own association members sue the association. A recent case says there is no coverage for the cost to defend the […]

San Rafael Tree Trimmer Killed By Falling Tree In Mill Valley (CA)

Martinez was removing trees on behalf of a homeowners’ association between Blue Jay Way and Chamberlain Court when he was struck by a falling tree and suffered traumatic head and body injuries, Chief Deputy Coroner Roger Fielding said.  Read the article…………………………

Can Board Members be Sued

Board members can be sued personally but only within specific parameters. Even though board members have a fair amount of protection under the law, it is a fairly common occurrence in Florida for board members to be brought into lawsuits as direct defendants. While those types of lawsuits generally are not successful, the association should […]

Limitation on HOA Tort Liability for Failure to Uphold Maintenance Obligations (CA)

One of the primary purposes for which a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) is formed is to maintain and repair the HOA’s common areas, as well as any other areas designated within the HOA’s recorded Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) (i.e., HOA Maintenance Areas). Faithfully executing the maintenance obligations under the CC&Rs is important to […]