—Trustee Trouble in Taunton
“In the case above, there is no question that a statement about the vocal unit owner has been made to third parties (in this case, as the statement was made in writing, the potential form of defamation would be libel, which is defamation in writing—as opposed to slander, which is spoken). However, the fact that the board sent this notice to all owners alone—even if it is offensive or troublesome to the vocal owner—is not enough to sustain a claim of libel. The vocal owner must also prove that the statement was false (as truth is generally—though not always—a defense to a defamation claim), and must also show damages. To the extent that this owner was in fact a vocal opponent of the current board and is listing her unit, then the statement above appears true (even if it is inelegant).
“To properly evaluate the viability of a defamation claim requires an in depth analysis of the facts in question, and it would be prudent to obtain counsel to do so. As to the second question, whether it is illegal to solicit proxies in advance of the meeting, the short answer in this case is: no. Assuming that proxies are allowed under the governing documents, obtaining proxies in advance, and seeking support for various actions (by reasonable and lawful means) is not prohibited. Just as the group seeking to remove the current board is entitled to solicit support for their cause, the current board may—by lawful, appropriate measures—do the same. To the extent that any “solicitation” devolves into harassment, intimidation, bullying or other aggressive or inappropriate activity, however, counsel (or, if necessary, law enforcement) should be involved immediately.”