Lawsuits are an unfortunate, and expensive, fact of life. It’s been that way ever since the first civil courts in ancient Sumeria, and will be that way as long as there are two parties to dispute something. Chances are, if you live long enough, you’ll be involved in a lawsuit to some degree. And if you serve on a condominium board long enough, chances are good that your board will be named as a defendant in a lawsuit.
In the context of homeowners associations, legal issues can arise between residents and boards, residents and residents, and just about any other way a population can be subdivided. People threaten to sue all the time. People even dare others to drag them to court. (“Don’t like it? Sue me!”) But what exactly does it mean to file a lawsuit? What is the order of operations when a suit is filed? What are some common reasons HOAs get involved with lawsuits? Let’s take a look.
Most Suits Are the “Slip-and-Fall” Type
There are times when a lawsuit is dropped on the board’s collective lap as if falling from the sky, without the slightest warning. In most cases, however, boards typically know well in advance that a lawsuit is coming.
“Most of the time, when they are sued, they know something will happen,” says attorney Michael Merrill, a partner with the law firm of Merrill & McGeary in Boston. “It’s a confirmation of what they might know already.”
Many lawsuits are of the so-called slip-and-fall variety. In order for such a suit to be brought, someone had to have slipped and fallen.