How to Fight Back when Your Condo Board is Constantly Being Attacked
This week, we’re going to give you tips on how to handle an issue that has plagued a lot of condo boards: “how do we respond when we’re been slandered by an owner?”
There’s a case on this, even though it is unpublished: Kulick v. Leisure Village Assn. This means the court has stated that you cannot rely on this case as precedent, but it is still quite instructive.
Here are the facts of the case. Robert Kulick, a condo owner at the seniors HOA Leisure Village, published a newsletter which he sent to the other residents; meanwhile, he didn’t publish with his real name, instead he preferred to use an alias, only once did he use his real name.
As might be expected considering the fact that the newsletter was written anonymously, the publication criticized the condo board. According to the court, the publication insulted the board members and also accused the members and their attorneys of some unlawful activities including “hate mongering”.
According to the condo rules, anonymous publications are prohibited from being disseminated.
The HOA instituted legal actions against Kulick for breaching the CC&Rs, constituting a nuisance and for intentionally trying to interfere with the contractual relationship between HOA and its insurers, in November 2013. They won and were awarded the sum of $129,643.80 in damages, including punitive damages. And Kulick appealed the judgment and lost.
Kulick later published another newsletter, where he attacked the board, asserting that the HOA’s general manager or members of the board committed perjury, obstruction of justice, racketeering, extortion and cheating and lying. He also stated that the board rigged its election.
The group’s attorneys wrote in reply to Kulick’s accusations; they also invited other homeowners to review all the documents used for the case. In the letter, they referred to the letter written by Kulick as a “reckless communication” filled with “unfounded, inaccurate and spiteful allegations.” The letters written by the HOA’s lawyer was sent to all the members.
It didn’t come as a surprise when Kulick sued for defamation. The HOA’s defense was that its actions came under the protection of California’s anti-SLAPP laws, the court held in their favor.