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Subject: Interesting video covering Florida/Miami collapse Legal issues
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Author Messages
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/15/2021 4:36 PM  
Here is a video covering some legal issues that may be facing the Miami collapse. It also touches on a few other related legal topics for HOA's. Florida centric video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7ubtx26Ee8

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:1585


07/15/2021 5:18 PM  
Thanks for the link, MelissaP1. I watched the first half.

The Florida attorney early on in this video declares that Florida statutes require COAs to fully fund their reserves unless the membership votes against full funding. I do not think this is accurate. FS 718.112 (2) (f) 2. requires a Florida COA's annual budget to include reserve funding pursuant to a formula "based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item" and so on. But I see nothing requiring the COA Board to actually fund the reserves. (Not that there are many HOA members willing to sue to force the board to impose a special assessment, because FS 718 says ___ about funding the reserves.) (Later in the video he seems to say in fact there is not a law requiring full funding but he wonders whether the legislature might consider such a requirement.)

I did find interesting the attorney's comment that, if a special assessment for a highly deteriorated building is going to be overwhelming to many COA members, then termination should be considered. "Termination" meaning selling the entire building to a developer, or demolishing the building. The attorney said he's not an expert in COA termination. Still to me, this attorney sounds wise.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/15/2021 5:27 PM  
The guy whom made this video covers the collapse as well. I like that he's taken the time out to discuss legal matters and the role of the HOA had/has. Think it's a good explanation of HOA's in general. It touches on many of the topics and advice this site has passed along over the years.

The lawyer is pretty good as he's not really able to discuss the exact Champlain Tower situation. I do like he believes going to see a lot more positive direction of HOA boards making changes. Think mentioning the building collapse is going to perk up some ears to not drag the feet.


Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:1585


07/15/2021 5:29 PM  
I agree the attorney sounds pretty good. If I were on a Florida condo board, I would vote to hire him.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2394


07/16/2021 8:29 AM  
One thing the attorney mentioned was the importance of using insured vendors since this also helps shield the board legally if the vendor's work isn't up to standards and things go badly sideways.

Interesting in light of another thread currently going on - apparently a number of people don't verify that their vendors actually have the insurance they claim to have. Some think the insurance certificate is enough, some think that pieces of paper can be forged and make phone calls.
AugustinD


Posts:1585


07/16/2021 8:52 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/16/2021 8:29 AM
One thing the attorney mentioned was the importance of using insured vendors since this also helps shield the board legally if the vendor's work isn't up to standards and things go badly sideways.

Interesting in light of another thread currently going on - apparently a number of people don't verify that their vendors actually have the insurance they claim to have. Some think the insurance certificate is enough, some think that pieces of paper can be forged and make phone calls.
While reading the latter thread, I was thinking about the consequences of a forged insurance certificate. What happens when a HOA/COA attempts to make a claim due to unsatisfactory vendor service, and the vendor's claimed insurance does not actually exist? No insurance means no deep pockets. I guess the vendor could possibly be charged with criminal fraud, but otherwise, the HOA/COA may not be able to get any meaningful money from a vendor (with a forged insurance certificate) who messed up when providing services.

I ended up watching the whole interview (linked above). I looked up the engineering firm whose PR staffer was asking the attorney questions. The engineering firm seems to specialize in helping clients who have insurance claims or are involved in lawsuits. I expect a part of their work is to serve as an expert witnesses to help determine how blame should be apportioned. I expect this engineering firm probably has exactly the experience needed to formulate good questions to a condo attorney.

No doubt both the engineering firm and attorney will get good PR from this interview. But the interview seemed appropriately focused on the practical steps to take to prevent another Champlain Towers South collapse and tragedy. Like I think MelissaP1 indicated, overall the interview seems like a great public service.

The attorney's quietly but firmly pounding on the importance of fully funding reserves, pursuant to recently completed reserve studies, impresses.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2394


07/16/2021 10:14 AM  
I also was impressed by the attorney. The best ones proactively try to keep their clients out of legal trouble rather than just defending them when they go wrong. (Contrary to what a few of our former posters believed, there are skilled HOA attorneys out there.)

I thought the interviewer did a good job as well and asked intelligent questions - maybe I've gotten used to the dismal state of journalism these days, but he got my attention.

My thanks to Melissa for posting a link to the video.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/16/2021 10:41 AM  
The guy doing the interview believe is a structural engineer. He normally post about the collapse itself. So if interested in that aspect check those out. There is another guy named Jeff too.

I like that he is bringing the legal and HOA angle into the mix. It is important for people to understand the complexity and responsibilities of a HOA in time of catastrophic situations. This no longer an what if. It is what is.

Hope it provides an education to many who may be in similar situations. This does concentrate on Florida and Miami Dade area. However, alot of it is really any HOa.

Former HOA President
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/16/2021 11:11 AM  
I don't see that this issue relates to whether a contractor has insurance or not. A contractor's insurance usually doesn't cover the quality of the work that they do. The contractor's insurance covers liability like a worker being injured or damage to the property while working, but one can't file a claim against their insurance because they did shoddy work.

At least, that is my understanding.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2394


07/16/2021 11:52 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 07/16/2021 11:11 AM
I don't see that this issue relates to whether a contractor has insurance or not. A contractor's insurance usually doesn't cover the quality of the work that they do. The contractor's insurance covers liability like a worker being injured or damage to the property while working, but one can't file a claim against their insurance because they did shoddy work.

At least, that is my understanding.



This came up when they were discussing board liability, negligence and the duty of care.

Many community associations run tight budgets, and boards can be tempted to stretch their dollars by using uninsured or unlicensed contractors. However, if things go wrong and the board gets sued, they're less likely to be found negligent if the work was done by insured/licensed/bonded workers since the board did everything they could to assure that things were maintained and repaired properly.

The lawyer also noted that the business judgement defense offers some pretty broad defenses for board members, but using cheaper and less qualified vendors can undermine the board's ability to use that defense.
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 12:12 PM  
The following is episode one of the video Melissa posted as it deals with a transaction prior to moving into a community such as the one that collapsed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFTRfsRTpZE
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 12:16 PM  
I'm not going to google the rules for Florida, but if this would have happened to a similar one that I managed in California where the board or owner didn't want to vote on a special assessment, I would have advised a board to impose an emergency special assessment and see where the chips fall.
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 1:00 PM  
Here is a question from watching the video.

If the board and/or owners refused to provide funding to repair a building that was deeded to fail, why should the insurance companies be held liable?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/16/2021 1:46 PM  
That is part of the lawsuit I am sure. The insurance may be the one's representing the HOA in the lawsuits that have been filed. Not knowing all of the reasons for the lawsuits yet, it's hard to answer. There are lawsuit being filed left and right. I am sure some will be against the vendor who did repairs prior. Some will be for the HOA neglect.

What really complicates things is this is an OWNER owned HOA. Do not believe there was any developer involved any more. So these lawsuits against the HOA will also be against the members in it. The very victims whom died in the collapse. Which we can not forget they would have had homeowner's insurance to claim.

I will not be surprised whomever their insurance company was will be dropping other condo's they may cover now. That happened here in Alabama after the 2011. One major insurance company dropped homeowner's policies for the tornado damage the state suffered.

Former HOA President
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 1:55 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/16/2021 1:46 PM
That is part of the lawsuit I am sure. The insurance may be the one's representing the HOA in the lawsuits that have been filed. Not knowing all of the reasons for the lawsuits yet, it's hard to answer. There are lawsuit being filed left and right. I am sure some will be against the vendor who did repairs prior. Some will be for the HOA neglect.

What really complicates things is this is an OWNER owned HOA. Do not believe there was any developer involved any more. So these lawsuits against the HOA will also be against the members in it. The very victims whom died in the collapse. Which we can not forget they would have had homeowner's insurance to claim.

I will not be surprised whomever their insurance company was will be dropping other condo's they may cover now. That happened here in Alabama after the 2011. One major insurance company dropped homeowner's policies for the tornado damage the state suffered.



There is a huge difference between negligence and an act of god.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/16/2021 2:01 PM  
Exactly. This would not be an act of God. It is negligence. I've watched enough of the structural engineer's videos and explanations that show it's an area of neglect or the assessment too large for people to afford.

Which if you watch the front of the video talks about the decision tipping point where the owners/HOA had to start considering a large assessment, tear the place down, or sell to someone who would fix it.

The benign neglect aspect and apathy will play a role in the outcome.

Former HOA President
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 2:05 PM  
So, lawyers are not going to take on a case such as this unless there are "deep pockets". If the insurance company, at the onset, say there was negilgence on part of the Association and we are not liable, the ambulance chasers go away and maybe the HOA's start waking the hell up.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10461


07/16/2021 5:28 PM  
Unfortunately, some lawyers are going to be making a killing off their clients. Simply because of some naivety on their part. Just telling someone they should "hire a lawyer" isn't enough information or knowledge to do so. Plus how many lawyers are now going through the phone book to find out the names of the residents?

It is going to be up to the court system at this point on what and who to sue. It's really insurance claims for the damages and lawsuits for the lack of prevention of it happening.

Former HOA President
MaxB4


Posts:1211


07/16/2021 6:26 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/16/2021 5:28 PM
Plus how many lawyers are now going through the phone book to find out the names of the residents?


Seriously, that's how its done?
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