Representing Texas Homeowners Associations & those aggrieved by them

Attorney Trey Wilson handles lawsuits and pre-litigation disputes involving enforcement of restrictive covenants/deed restrictions, Homeowner Association member voting/ballot/proxy issues, HOA Board elections, collection of assessments/dues, placement and removal of liens, CCR/Declaration disputes, developer HOA control/turnover, ACC approval, HOA Board governance, Abuses by Homeowners Associations and drafting/amendment of HOA documents including By-laws.


HOA Sued for Cleaning Up Home Owner’s Patio Trash

San Antonio HOA Lawyer Trey Wilson wrote:

From The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Dec. 17 — When neighbors took it upon themselves to clean Suzanne Taylor’s cluttered patio in Buffalo’s exclusive Waterfront Village, she accused them of trespassing and discrimination, and eventually sued them in federal court.

After a three-year legal battle, a federal appeals court found Taylor’s suit to be “groundless and frivolous” and ordered a lower-court judge to award attorney fees to the home owners organization she sued.

Senior U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin, who had previously denied attorney fees to the defendants, did exactly that last week to the tune of $107,322.

“It’s not enough to prevail. Our clients had to prove her suit was frivolous,” said Minryu Kim, a lawyer for the Harbour Pointe Homeowners Association. “It’s very, very rare that courts award attorney fees to prevailing defendants.”

In discrimination cases, courts have a long history of not awarding attorney fees to defendants because of the “chilling effect” that might have on future discrimination cases.

Taylor had claimed disability discrimination — she said she suffers from depression — and Curtin found that her case was not “entirely unreasonable or without foundation.”

Now Taylor feels that the decision to award attorney fees will have other ramifications. 

“I really think there’s going to be a chilling effect,” Taylor said of the courts’ ultimate ruling. “I really think lawyers are going to be afraid to take these cases.”

The case of Taylor v. Harbour Pointe began more than four years ago, when neighbors, who 

had complained that Taylor’s patio was a “pigsty,” cleaned it up and moved several items to the inside of her garage.

When Taylor, who was out of town at a college reunion, returned home and found that her patio had been cleaned, she called police and filed a report accusing her neighbors of trespassing and burglary.

She eventually took her case, which became a housing discrimination complaint, to the state Division of Human Rights and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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