Community Association News From Texas of Interest Here in California

The national CAI organization reports this month that in Texas, two interesting lawsuits have been filed on difficult issues facing community associations throughout the United States.

In Austin, Texas, a convicted sex offender is suing his association for driving him out of his home. The homeowner and his wife bought their condo, then the homeowner spent almost three years in prison for failing to register as a sex offender for a conviction entered against him twenty years prior to his purchase of the home. When the homeowner returned to his condo, the association left him and his wife a note saying that the association banned all registered sex offenders from living in the complex. So the homeowner, who says he is classified as a low-risk sex offender, and his wife are suing the association in federal court for, among other things, violating the their due process rights under the 14th Amendment. (The 14th Amendment’s due process clause prohibits government from depriving people of life, liberty or property without due process.) The couple is arguing the association acted like a government in enforcing the rules, and that the rule against registered sex offenders unfairly imposes an unnecessary burden on registered sex offenders who have complied with their legal obligations.

 In Galveston, Texas, a homeowners association president filed a $10 million defamation suit against a homeowner who allegedly e-mailed defamatory remarks about the president to numerous individuals. The alleged defamation including describing the president as “dishonest,” “incompetent,” “unethical” and “harassing.” The president alleges that the e-mails “negligently or maliciously” state he had committed election fraud and that he had spied on the homeowner and his friends, family and business associates. The president claims the e-mails have caused an extreme amount of emotional distress and have greatly damaged his reputation. A jury trial has been requested to resolve the dispute.

Lauri Croce