Owners Request For Attorney Fees as Prevailing Party is Denied by Court

This case involved a dispute between a homeowner (“Owner”), and her homeowners association (“Association”) and its property manager (“Manager”), concerning personal injuries suffered by Owner when she fell on Association’s premises. Owner filed an action for personal injuries against Association and Manager in which she prevailed, and thereafter requested an award of attorney fees and costs as the prevailing party under California law and Association’s CC&Rs.

In her complaint, Owner alleged claims that were based on common law negligence, which would not allow for the recovery of attorney fees, and also claims against Association and Manager which alleged breach of fiduciary duty, breach of Association’s CC&Rs, and declaratory relief, for which the prevailing party would be entitled to recover attorney fees. By incorporating the additional claims, Owner was contending that Association and Manager owed a duty to maintain all common areas in a safe condition and to perform repairs to the common areas and not create dangerous or unsafe conditions, but breached those duties and Association’s CC&Rs which imposed certain maintenance and safeguard responsibilities.

The Trial Court Ruling

The trial court denied Owner’s request for an award of attorney’s fees, ruling that Owner’s claims were not based on “an action to enforce or interpret” Association’s CC&Rs, but was instead based on common law negligence claims which did not involve claims based on breach of contract or a statute that authorized the recovery of attorney fees by the prevailing party.

Owner Disagrees – And Appeals

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