Search Site
Menu
Limiting Liability for Condominium, Homeowner and other Community Associations

On March 20, 2013, the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled in Irma Sanchez v. The Villages Association that the burden of proving the validity of a community association’s bylaws limiting its liability in personal injury cases rests with the injured plaintiff. It is beneficial for community associations, their boards, professional managers and unit owners to be aware of this case and its repercussions. An awareness of these issues could dramatically decrease the instances of lawsuits, and could save community associations and their members a great deal of time and financial burdens.

In Sanchez v. Villages Association, the plaintiff injured herself on a portion of cement sidewalk in disrepair. The plaintiff initially alleged that the association was at fault for the injury, claiming negligence. The association contended that they had instituted “a bylaw that restricts its premises liability in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-13 to instances of willful, wanton, or grossly negligent conduct.” The judge ruled that the disrepair constituted standard negligence, rather than the willful, wanton, or gross negligence outlined in N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14.

The plaintiff then argued that N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14 had not been properly integrated into the association’s bylaws, which permitted the governing document to be “altered or repealed . . . by an affirmative vote of 51% or greater,” rather than the 2/3 (or 67%) vote required by N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14. The plaintiff alleged that the presence of Article XII casted doubt on whether the liability protections permitted by N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14 were properly integrated into the association’s bylaws.

Upon presentation of documents by the defendant, the judge ruled that at face value, the bylaws were adequately implemented. The defense presented a forty-two page document dated July 15, 1998 that was adequately endorsed by the attorney who prepared the papers as well as the association’s president and secretary. In light of the document, the judge ruled that N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14 certainly appeared to have been properly voted into the association’s bylaws and that plaintiff—whom had been a resident of the association for seventeen years—had been effectively on “constructive notice of the bylaws’ content.”

Sanchez establishes the precedent that the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating inadequate amendment of the bylaws to include a liability limitation. As long a community association is able to establish that it implemented the liability protections of N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-14 by way of a 2/3 vote, the liability protection should stand. If nothing else, Sanchez highlights the essential nature of community association recordkeeping. Community associations, and their professional managers, must keep track of any changes in community bylaws and ensure that the mode of passage is consistent with the governing documents and statutory requirements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • Fishing to be allowed in future wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City. https://t.co/x8vlsXFtcW
    1 week ago
  • New Jersey Economic Development Authority approves pilot program to replace diesel trucks with electric vehicles in… https://t.co/EZ5xkmDIjY
    1 week ago
  • New Jersey sues the Federal Government over PFAS contamination at military bases. https://t.co/f3BTcTmMJ8
    1 week ago
  • Bald eagles, continuing a remarkable comeback, are now nesting in all 21 New Jersey counties. https://t.co/F8i2rKUedo
    2 weeks ago

Recent Blog Posts

Underground storage tank leaks may lead to development delays and costly clean-ups

Earlier this month, multiple sources reported an oil leak at a redevelopment site in Haddonfield, New Jersey. According to the Borough of Haddonfield’s press release dated January 6, 2021, the
Read More
Underground storage tank leaks may lead to development delays and costly clean-ups

New Jersey Court of Appeals rules in favor of DEP’s ability to create public beach access over private property

In an April 2020 decision of a matter comprised of 63 consolidated cases, the New Jersey Court of Appeals affirmed that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) has
Read More
New Jersey Court of Appeals rules in favor of DEP’s ability to create public beach access over private property

Changes to expect in environmental regulation with the incoming administration

President-elect Joe Biden ran on a platform that highlighted climate change and environmental regulation as national priorities. His plans state the intention to take the necessary steps to decrease our
Read More
Changes to expect in environmental regulation with the incoming administration

NJDEP files Additional Natural Resource Damages claims

The State DEP continues to pursue natural resource damages (called NRD) claims. These are lawsuits where the relief sought is not just a cleanup, which is normally the relief sought
Read More
NJDEP files Additional Natural Resource Damages claims

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form