This case involved a dispute between a condominium owner (Owner) and the condominium association of which Owner is a member (Association), a nonprofit corporation, over Owners rights to access various records pertaining to Associations financial dealings under both the Nonprofit Corporation Act of 2010, and under the separate Condominium Act contained in the D.C. Code. The Association believed it was entitled to withhold information from owner and disputed Owner’s claim.
The suit was commenced by Owner in October 2015 against Association and its management agent for their alleged failure to provide Owner with access to various records that he had requested pursuant to the D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Act of 2010. Owner had requested fifteen categories of information from Association over the three-year period preceding the filing of the lawsuit.
The trial court found that eleven of the fifteen requests that had been made by Owner did not comply with the requirements of the Nonprofit Corporation Act, and that the remaining requests primarily sought information pertaining to personnel matters, pending or anticipated litigation, or files of members or individual unit owners, which Association could properly withhold under the provisions of the Condominium Act. Based on said findings, the trial court denied all but a portion of two of Owners requests that sought information about expenditures by Association that Owner was entitled to receive. The trial court further denied Owners request for an award of attorneys fees because it found that Association had acted in good faith because the only two requests that required a response were buried in a large number of unwarranted requests. Owner appealed the trial courts decision challenging the courts ruling that Association was entitled to withhold certain information under the Condominium Act that was otherwise subject to disclosure under the Nonprofit Corporation Act and the courts denial of his request for attorneys fees.
Upon consideration of the relevant factors, the appellate court found that the more limiting confidentiality provision contained in the Condominium Act prevailed over the more general disclosure provision contained in the Nonprofit Corporation Act. Limiting the scope of its decision to the two conflicting provisions being considered, the appellate court concluded that Association was authorized under the provisions of the Condominium Act to withhold the information at issue, even if it would have otherwise been subject to mandatory disclosure under the Nonprofit Corporation Act.
On the issue of the trial courts denial of Owners request for attorneys fees, the appellate court found that the trial courts denial of fees under the Nonprofit Corporation Act was within the discretion of the trial court, but that Owner may have been entitled to recover attorneys fees under provisions contained in the Condominium Act. Without reaching a conclusion, the appellate court remanded the matter back to the trial court for the specific determination of whether Owner was entitled to recover attorneys fees under the Condominium Act.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals decision (August 29, 2019).
See case decision: Bridgforth_v._Gateway_Georgetown_Condo._Inc.