Settlement Can Put End to Member’s Ongoing Feud

January 19, 2017
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If you’ve been dealing with a member whose complaints or legal actions seem to be neverending, there could be good news for you: In some case, a settlement with the member precludes a subsequent lawsuit.

That was the experience for an Illinois association. There, an association member complained to the community’s management company on three separate occasions that an unauthorized car was parked in his assigned parking space at the property. The manager told the member to call a towing company, but when the member contacted the company, he was told that an “authorized” representative of the community would have to request that the car be towed. However, the manager refused to call the towing company on the member’s behalf. The member sued the association, claiming that the incidents had been a “waste of his time” and had cost him $2,000.

The association and the member entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the issue, rather than going to court. In the agreement, in exchange for a $1,000 credit to his association account, the member “released, acquitted, and forever discharged the association from all claims that were asserted or could have been asserted by him in connection with the dispute.”

Nonetheless, the member sued the association for, among other claims, a deprivation of property rights and misrepresentation, namely that the association had misrepresented the process that it follows to tow a “trespassing,” or an illegally parked vehicle, from a resident’s parking spot. The association asked a trial court for a judgment in its favor without a trial. An Illinois trial court ruled in favor of the association.

The association argued, and the court agreed, that all of the member’s claims, including those that were expressly asserted in the draft complaint and those that could have been asserted, were released through the agreement that was executed and signed by the parties. There was no genuine issue of fact that was left for the court to determine [Gorokhovsky v. Bldg. Group, November 2016].