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November 2020

California Team Obtains Appellate Win in Homeowners Association Dispute

Partners Craig Mariam, Brenda Radmacher, and associate Jonathan Schaub obtained unreserved appellate confirmation of an attorneys’ fees award in favor of the firm’s clients, directors of a homeowners’ association.  

The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a trial court’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $46,138 in favor of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani clients, homeowners’ association board members (“Board Members”).  The underlying action concerned a cross-complaint filed against the Homeowners’ Association and individually against the Board Members by a now-former owner in the Association, after she had been sued by the Association initially for breach of the CC&Rs for violations including building on her deck that was common area and for interfering with the common area by various gardening and hosing down of the common area sidewalks. 

After the court sustained clients’ demurrer to the cross-complaint, the homeowner voluntarily dismissed her cross-complaint with prejudice.  After a global settlement fell through, the Board Members filed a motion seeking a statutory attorneys’ fees award pursuant to Civil Code § 5975(c), as prevailing parties on an action to enforce HOA governing documents.  The trial court granted the fee motion in November 2018.

The fee award was appealed; after the court dismissed the appeal three times for procedural defects and missed deadlines, the California Supreme Court reinstated the appeal.  While the appellate courts effectively provided the plaintiff three bites at the appellate apple, the Court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees in favor of the firm’s clients and further awarded the Board Members’ costs on appeal.

Craig J. Mariam