Condo Media - April 2018 - 48

poison pill VOIDED

C

oncluding that the
provision "makes it
extraordinarily difficult
or even impossible" for
condominium boards
to sue the developer
for defects in the common areas, the
court invalidated its use for that purpose.
Condominium associations across the
commonwealth celebrated. Yet, that celebration was premature, as the decision
does nothing to prevent the use of these
provisions except in the limited circumstance of claims against the developer.
The "poison pill" remains a looming
roadblock in all other situations.
THE CASE
Cambridge Point Condominium Trust v.
Cambridge Point, LLC, arose after the
condominium's trustees received unit
owner complaints about water leakage
and mold infestation in their five-yearold, 42-unit development.
An engineering study found "myriad
design and construction defects," later
estimated to cost over $2 million to repair. Efforts to have the developer make
the repairs "proved futile." The trustees
contemplated suit.
Unfortunately for them, the condominium bylaws contained a severe
restriction on their ability to initiate liti-

48

CONDOMEDIA

gation. Before suing anyone other than a
unit owner, the trustees had to obtain the
written consent of at least 80 percent of
the owners.
To obtain that consent, the trustees
first had to circulate their proposed complaint, specify a limit on the amount to be
paid in legal fees and costs, and institute a
special assessment to collect that sum. To
ensure that the owners could not amend
these requirements out of the bylaws, the
provision also required that at least
80 percent of the owners consent to its
amendment. Adding to this burden, the
trustees had to confront the fact that
the developer still owned or controlled
enough units to block them from obtaining the 80 percent required approval.
The trustees sued without obtaining
the requisite consent. In their complaint,
they sought damages for the defects
and a court declaration that the bylaw
provision is void because it violates the
state condominium statute and because,
in contravention of public policy, it effectively shields the developer from suits for
construction defects. The trial court disagreed and dismissed the complaint after
finding that nothing in the statute prohibits the clause and that the developer's
use of it did not constitute overreaching,
especially because the owners had notice
of it when they purchased their units.

THE DECISION
The Supreme Judicial Court reversed
the trial court's decision, concluding that
under the circumstances the provision
contravenes public policy. After recognizing that the bylaw's 80 percent consent requirement "makes it effectively
impossible" for the trustees to sue the
developer where the developer retained
control of at least 20 percent of the units,
the court weighed the "well-established
public policy in favor of the safety and
habitability of homes" against the "public
interest in freedom of contract." The
court determined that rights "to obtain
legal redress when ... homes fail to meet
minimum standards ... are so vital that ...
they cannot be waived." It concluded that
the developer "overreached" by imposing
a requirement that, "for all practical purposes, makes it extraordinarily difficult
or even impossible for the trustees to
initiate any litigation" against it for common area defects. The court declared
that, "viewed in light of the totality of
the circumstances," the provision is void
because it contravenes public policy.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
As important as the decision is, what
the court did not decide is likely to
present longer, and more far-reaching,
consequences. While striking down the



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - April 2018

Contents
Condo Media - April 2018 - BB1
Condo Media - April 2018 - BB2
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover1
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover2
Condo Media - April 2018 - Contents
Condo Media - April 2018 - 2
Condo Media - April 2018 - 3
Condo Media - April 2018 - 4
Condo Media - April 2018 - 5
Condo Media - April 2018 - 6
Condo Media - April 2018 - 7
Condo Media - April 2018 - 8
Condo Media - April 2018 - 9
Condo Media - April 2018 - 10
Condo Media - April 2018 - 11
Condo Media - April 2018 - 12
Condo Media - April 2018 - 13
Condo Media - April 2018 - 14
Condo Media - April 2018 - 15
Condo Media - April 2018 - 16
Condo Media - April 2018 - 17
Condo Media - April 2018 - 18
Condo Media - April 2018 - 19
Condo Media - April 2018 - 20
Condo Media - April 2018 - 21
Condo Media - April 2018 - 22
Condo Media - April 2018 - 23
Condo Media - April 2018 - 24
Condo Media - April 2018 - 25
Condo Media - April 2018 - 26
Condo Media - April 2018 - 27
Condo Media - April 2018 - 28
Condo Media - April 2018 - 29
Condo Media - April 2018 - 30
Condo Media - April 2018 - 31
Condo Media - April 2018 - 32
Condo Media - April 2018 - 33
Condo Media - April 2018 - 34
Condo Media - April 2018 - 35
Condo Media - April 2018 - 36
Condo Media - April 2018 - 37
Condo Media - April 2018 - 38
Condo Media - April 2018 - 39
Condo Media - April 2018 - 40
Condo Media - April 2018 - 41
Condo Media - April 2018 - 42
Condo Media - April 2018 - 43
Condo Media - April 2018 - 44
Condo Media - April 2018 - 45
Condo Media - April 2018 - 46
Condo Media - April 2018 - 47
Condo Media - April 2018 - 48
Condo Media - April 2018 - 49
Condo Media - April 2018 - 50
Condo Media - April 2018 - 51
Condo Media - April 2018 - 52
Condo Media - April 2018 - 53
Condo Media - April 2018 - 54
Condo Media - April 2018 - 55
Condo Media - April 2018 - 56
Condo Media - April 2018 - 57
Condo Media - April 2018 - 58
Condo Media - April 2018 - 59
Condo Media - April 2018 - 60
Condo Media - April 2018 - 61
Condo Media - April 2018 - 62
Condo Media - April 2018 - 63
Condo Media - April 2018 - 64
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover3
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201911_v2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mcneill/condomedia_200908
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com