IMPRESSION: Unit owners who initiate litigation over common elements do not necessarily recoup attorney fees from the association—even when their lawsuit is successful, and benefits the association as a whole.
DETAILS: A shared sewer system in Adams County, Wisconsin, was the focus of a recent dispute between the Sunset Condominiums at Northern Bay Owners Association (“Sunset Condo Assoc.”), and a unit owner of the Sunset Condominiums. Larson v. Castle at the Bay, LLC, 2018 WI App 71, 384 Wis.2d 633, 2018 WL 5307100. Prior to 2013, the area’s local sewage system was mutually utilized by neighboring developments Timber Shores and Castle at the Bay—despite being considered a common element of Sunset Condominiums. In 2013, Castle at the Bay declared partial ownership of the sewer system, and proceeded to impose a usage fee upon Sunset Condo Assoc. Rather than respond by threatening litigation, the Sunset Condo Assoc. chose a two-tiered amicable and less expensive approach: (1) agree to shared ownership of the sewer system; and (2) consent to Castle at the Bay’s obligatory usage fees.