This case involved a dispute between a condominium owner / association member (Owner) and her homeowners association (Association) over Associations breach of fiduciary duty resulting from failure to make timely repairs to common area components that allowed water to leak into Owners unit. Owners condominium unit initially suffered water damage from leaks that originated in the common area back in 2007. At that time, Owner took photographs of the damage and timely reported the leaks to Associations property manager.
Having not resolved the issues with the damage caused to Owners unit by 2011, Owner filed suit against Association. The case was settled in 2012 on terms that included a payment of $85,000.00 to Owner for damage to her unit, and an agreement on the part of Association to make needed repairs to the common areas that were the cause of the water leaks into Owners unit. After settling Owners lawsuit, Association delayed the repairs that had been agreed to.
Because the common area that had caused the leaks into Owners unit had not been repaired, Owner delayed making the repairs to the interior of her unit because she believed that, until the common areas were repaired, the leaks would continue and cause new damage to the interior of her unit. In 2013, while the common area was still in a state of disrepair, Owners unit suffered more water damage, which resulted in new claims against Association.
In August of 2014, Owner filed another action against Association in which she alleged that Association had breached the terms of the 2012 settlement agreement, and additional claims for damages based on negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. After the second action was filed, Association made the necessary repairs to the common areas that were the cause of the leaks into Owners unit. By that time, Owner had paid a contractor over $167,000.00 to repair the damage to the interior of her condominium unit.
In addition to the damage to her condominium unit, Owner contended that she suffered physical injuries that were caused by her exposure to mold that resulted from the wet conditions that remained in her unit from the leaks that were not timely repaired. In a jury trial, Association was found liable to Owner for breach of contract (the settlement agreement), negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. The jury awarded Owner $308,150.00 in damages which included $113,150 in economic damages (property damage, moving expenses, temporary housing expenses, and medical expenses), plus an additional $195,000.00 in non-economic loss (damages for her physical injuries). Association then appealed the jury verdict.
The appellate court found that there was substantial evidence that supported the judgment in the trial court. It was undisputed that necessary repairs had not been made to the common areas for over two years after the settlement of the first lawsuit filed by Owner. There was also evidence which showed that during that two year period there were additional rains that caused further water intrusion damage to the interior of Owners condominium unit, which in turn caused more mold to grow, and additional injury to Owners health. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the trial courts judgment and awarded Owner costs incurred in the appeal.
UNPUBLISHED California Appellate Court decision (July 2, 2019).
See case decision: Longmire_v._1022_10th_St._Inc.