Owens v. Tiber Islands Condominium Association

373 A.2d 890 (1977)

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Owens v. Tiber Islands Condominium Association

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
373 A.2d 890 (1977)

Facts

James and Kathleen Owens (plaintiffs) owned a condominium unit in the Tiber Islands Condominium community. The Owenses sued the condominium association (defendant) to contest an assessed fee to cover legal expenses incurred by the association when it instituted a legal action and settlement against a local authority that was proposing to construct a subway and station near the condominium. The proposed project affected the condominium’s existence, upkeep, and safety and affected more than one unit’s environment, property values, and general aesthetics. The settlement regulated construction hours and sites, noise levels, the placement of vents and holes, and operational noise levels and vibrations. The association counterclaimed to collect the Owenses’ unpaid assessment. The parties did not dispute that the association board unanimously approved the suit or that the council of coowners, adhering to the bylaws, approved the assessment to cover the legal fees. State law authorized a condominium association to sue on behalf of the condominium if the suit did not limit any owner’s rights and if the suit involved any cause of action relating to the condominium’s common elements or more than one unit. The condominium’s bylaws also authorized the association to use legal means to enforce the condominium’s declaration, bylaws, and regulations and to pursue any proceeding allowed under state law on behalf of the council of coowners. The trial court granted summary judgment for the association on both claims, and the Owenses appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)

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