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Subject: Lawsuit
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Author Messages
CourtneyS2
(Texas)

Posts:59


10/21/2021 4:52 PM  
Has anyone ever had a board member sue Association and MC for defamation and win the lawsuit?

SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


10/21/2021 6:29 PM  
I haven't heard of that in this state, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been tried. These days people sue because a ham sandwich doesn't have the right kind of mustard or mayonnaise instead of mustard.

You didn't say if you aren't the board member considering the lawsuit - or the property manager - or are just curious, but remember, suing is easy. Proving your case is another matter and then the judge has to agree with you and that's not always a given either. Even if you win, the other side might appeal, which will mean more time and money. I'm not saying don't do it, but be sure to go into it eyes open. Hell, read this article for some food for thought....

https://www.epsten.com/defamation-and-the-association-2/
AugustinD


Posts:1901


10/21/2021 6:43 PM  
Posted By CourtneyS2 on 10/21/2021 4:52 PM
Has anyone ever had a board member sue Association and MC for defamation and win the lawsuit?
Consider that the director may be far more interested in a settlement offer from the HOA insurer than going to court.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


10/21/2021 7:00 PM  
Not for defamation but, before our time, we understand a member of the Board and and a non-Board member owner of a client successfully sued the Association in Small Claims Court and won.

The issue was an assessment increase approved by the Board, a member of which was not eligible to serve on the Board as he was not the owner of the property; his vote was decisive in approving the increase. There was no corporation, partnership, or LLC involved, apparently he and a relative (the rue owner) collaborated to deceive the PM regarding ownership and therefore eligibility to serve.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


10/21/2021 7:27 PM  
Interesting, Bill!

In a campaign for the board in late '19, my supporters and I distributed a cool, dispassionate, but highly critical "fact sheet" about the then-Board. Every word was true and bolstered by citations, etc. We distributed it before a Board meeting that had maybe 25 owners attending. We gave it to the Board too. They hastily read it. The prez, an attorney, opened the meeting by announcing that our fact sheet was defamatory and she was going "to do something about it!"

Her buddies (one also an attorney) were defeated in the election and she resigned. She never took any action against us.

One point of relying this story is that Owners can weaken or eliminate (in this case) bad Boards, but it takes patience, knowledge of especially the assn. bylaws, hard work and unity with others.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1689


10/22/2021 5:29 AM  
Threatening to sue is a lot cheaper than actually doing it.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


10/22/2021 5:46 AM  
Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors...

Former HOA President
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


10/22/2021 5:51 AM  
My advice would be to take what proof you have and talk to 2 or 3 attorneys and see if they believe the proof is actually strong enough to win.

Perhaps, as others have offered, a simple letter from an attorney will put a stop to the issue.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:290


10/22/2021 8:00 AM  
When a threat of legal action is heard, we stop all communication with that owner. If they are serious and just not throwing around words to push us to submission, we wait for something from THEIR lawyer before engaging our lawyer. Most times it's just a threat from their frustration.

Small claims court in NC only handles monies owed, so you can't sue for defamation in small claims court here.

Wait until you receive something from their lawyer.

As a board member, I've been defamed on social media many times. Even accused of identity theft. Nothing ever came of it, but the posts that were made were removed by the poster fairly quickly.

To be covered, make sure your D & O insurance is up to date.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


10/22/2021 10:12 AM  
Pat

The moment anyone says sue, we inform them we are stopping all communication with them and turning it over to our lawyer. 99% of the time they apologize immediately. The other 1% we have never heard from again.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


10/22/2021 1:57 PM  
So, Courtney, is this something that IS happening? Or something you want to happen? Are you on the Board?
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


10/22/2021 2:54 PM  
I am not personally familiar with any cases but I did find an opinion that a board member may be a "limited public figure" meaning they would have to prove actual malice to win a defamation suit.

https://beckerlawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/20170517_perl_board_members_limited_purpose.pdf
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


10/22/2021 4:30 PM  
Defamation suits are very hard to prove. There are so many factors involved. Proof of damages is one of the hardest parts to prove. Let's say I go on Facebook and call you a "Karen". Well what damage was actually done other than sharing of my opinion?

Let's say you own a business. I go online and say "Mrs. X Sewing business sucks". Well again that is opinion. No real damages. Now if I went and said "Mr. X Sewing business does bad work by not sewing seams correctly". That is different. Seams being glued instead of sewn as requested or crooked is "damage". I could sue the company for faulty work etc. However, if I said this and it caused other people NOT to do business with Mrs. X Sewing business, that is "DEFAMATION". Mrs. X has to prove that they lost business because of what you said about their business. Not very easy to prove if your trying to find someone willing to state "I did not do business or took my business away from Mrs. X business because of what you stated".

Damages could maybe be "punitive" but not all small claim courts award punitive damages. Otherwise, it could just be limited to "real" damages like the expense of bringing the lawsuit.

Have to also keep in mind that it has to be UNTRUE. Which what if the seams were sewn well or glue was agreed upon? Well then can't go around saying "They sew/glue seams badly" if the facts are not accurate. That isn't defamation. Those are then facts.

So before you jump into the whole "HOA defamation" lawsuit. Make sure you are prepared to pay the price for it. Plus understand your fellow neighbors will be doing the same.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


10/22/2021 5:11 PM  
Melissa--Courtney didn't say she wants to sue the HOA. We don't know WHY she asked the question. Maybe she'll share with us.
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/07/2021 10:31 AM  
nice signature
TV
(Washington)

Posts:91


11/07/2021 10:31 AM  
nice signature
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