May 17, 2013.
A U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia Appellate Court ruling affirmed a trial court’s summary judgment holding that the plaintiff homeowners were not entitled to an accommodation and a modification that they had requested from the HOA for a disability pursuant to the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The trial court did not award the HOA attorney’s fees as the prevailing party and the HOA appealed that portion of the trial court’s judgment.
The appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling in favor of the HOA finding that the requested accommodation was not reasonable and therefore, the HOA’s denial was not in violation of the FHAA. The appellate court also upheld the trial court’s ruling denying attorney fees to the HOA as the prevailing party basing its findings on a prior U.S. Supreme Court ruling that when an action involves a civil rights matter, and the prevailing party is a defendant, attorneys’ fees may be awarded only upon a finding that the plaintiff’s action was frivolous. Because there was no finding that the plaintiff’s claims were frivolous, attorney’s fees could not be awarded to the defendants.
See: Scoggins v. Lee’s Crossing Homeowners Assn.