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The Hidden Dangers of Construction Defect Litigation

March 28, 2012 — David M. McLain, Colorado Construction Litigation

David M. McLain, writing at Colorado Construction Litigation, has an interesting blog post republishing his article in Common Interests magazine, the monthly periodical of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. In his article, he touches on a number of pitfalls in construction defect litigation, including the potential conflicts of interests facing HOAs. He also considers the problems homeowners can face, including both “strong-arm tactics” taken by attorneys to compel homeowners to join the lawsuit, or situations in which the interests of the HOA do not match those of the homeowners. He writes:

There is also a conflict of interest with individual owners who attempt to opt out of the case. This can lead to shocking strong-arm tactics on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys. In one instance, a plaintiffs’ attorney sent a letter to an individual homeowner that stated that as a 1/58th owner of the common elements, if he refused to go along with the suit, and there was ultimately a finding in favor of the HOA which was in any way limited by his refusal to participate, he would be personally liable for 1/58th of the HOA’s total damages. In another instance, a different plaintiffs’ attorney sent a letter to a homeowner who wanted the builder to perform warranty repairs, informing the owner that if he let the builder perform any repairs, the attorney would bill the HOA according to the fee agreement entered by the HOA board (without knowledge or consent of non-board members) and that the HOA would assess the homeowner for that expense. These are just two examples of conflicts which may arise between the HOA board and individual homeowners when the HOA pursues CD cases.

Another example of a conflict which will arise as a result of CD litigation occurs post-settlement. When an HOA settles for less than 100% of the amount necessary to fund all repairs outlined by its experts, plus attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, there will obviously be a shortfall in the amount necessary to fix the development. The HOA board must then choose to impose a special assessment to cover the shortfall or to make some, but not all, of the repairs outlined by its experts. In choosing the latter, the conflict arises with respect to which homes get fixed and which do not. In this situation, the HOA board has acted as the attorney-in-fact for the individual owners by bringing claims on their behalf, and has compromised those claims without their knowledge or consent.

Read the full story…

Reprinted courtesy of David M. McLain of Higgins, Hopkins, McClain & Roswell, LLC. Mr. McClain can be contacted at mclain@hhmrlaw.com.

The Hidden Dangers of Construction Defect Litigation