Third Circuit Determines That Association’s Sex-Segregating Swimming Schedule Violates The Fair Housing Act

Posted by on Apr 23, 2019 in Fair Housing, Legal Decisions

By Ronald L. Perl, Esq. CCAL

In a decision issued on April 22, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has determined that rules providing for sex-segregating swimming schedules (separate women-only and men-only times) violate the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

In 2016, the 55+ age-restricted community, A Country Place Condominium Association, in Lakewood, NJ, adopted rules for the use of its community pool, which designated certain hours when only members of a single sex were allowed to swim. This was done, according to the case, to accommodate the approximately 2/3rds population of Orthodox Jews living in the association and the Orthodox Jewish principle of modesty. This principle means that the Orthodox residents are not supposed to swim at a time when members of the opposite sex might be present. According to the decision, men’s swim time encompassed 32.5 hours per week while 33.5 hours were allocated to women’s swims. Only 25 hours were open to mixed swims, of which 13 hours were on Saturdays when Orthodox residents would not swim due to the Jewish Sabbath.

Three individuals (“plaintiffs”) who challenged these rules were found in violation and fined by the association. They filed a complaint in federal court alleging violations of the FHA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. After discovery in the trial court, both the plaintiffs and the association filed motions for summary judgment. The District Court ruled in favor of the defendant association because it found that “the gender-segregated schedule applies to men and women equally.” The plaintiffs appealed.

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Katz to Speak at CAI New Jersey Regional Council Legal & Legislative Update in Cherry Hill

Posted by on Sep 6, 2018 in CAI, Legal Decisions, Speaking Engagements, Uncategorized

Jonathan H. Katz, Esq., a partner in Hill Wallack’s Community Associations Practice Group, will be speaking at this year’s CAI-PA/Del Val – New Jersey Regional Council 2018 Legal & Legislative Update.

Join CAI as we review legislation and regulations that became law in the past year and will provide an update on legislation pending in the current legislative session in Trenton. We will also review relevant case law decided in the past year, including cases involving transition, dispute resolution, and collection issues. Then join us for a Happy Hour immediately following the program.

Thursday, September 13, 2018
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Program
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Happy Hour

P.J. Whelihan’s Pub + Restaurant 
1854 Marlton Pike East
Cherry Hill, NJ  08034

This Course is approved by the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) to fulfill continuing education requirements for the CMCA® certification. This course will earn managers two (2) continuing education credits, which also help satisfy the requirements to apply for the PCAM designation.

Happy hour is included with your registration! Enjoy appetizers and drink tickets following the program.

For more information or to register, click here.

 

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Classic Condo Cases: Siddons v. Cook and Country Place Condominium Association – The Duty to Warn

Posted by on Aug 7, 2018 in Classic Condo Cases, Legal Decisions, Safety

By Jonathan H. Katz, Esq.

Hill Wallack LLP’s “Classic Condo Cases” is a continuing series in which we look back at precedential Court opinions and discuss why each decision is important for community associations throughout New Jersey.

Siddons v. Cook and Country Place Condominium Association, 382 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 2005).

Quick Take: Community associations have a duty to warn owners of potential, recurring conditions/deficiencies that are known to the association and may cause damage, even if those conditions/deficiencies are solely within a unit/home and not part of the common elements.

Just the Facts: Sandra Siddons owned a downstairs condominium unit; David and Wendy Cook owned the unit directly above Siddons. Both units were part of the Country Place Condominium Association (the “Association”), located in Egg Harbor, NJ. Siddons sued the Cooks and the Association after her unit suffered water damage in excess of $25,000 as a result of a broken dishwasher hose in the Cooks’ unit. The Association was aware that dishwasher hoses in other condominium units (three, to be exact) had previously cracked/broken; however, since those hoses were the unit owner’s responsibility, the Association took the position that it had no responsibility to take any affirmative action to notify the other owners.

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Condo FAQs: Tort Immunity

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Condo FAQs, Legal Decisions, Legislation

By Jonathan H. Katz, Esq.

Hill Wallack LLP’s Condo FAQs is a continuing series in which we answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) pertaining to condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners associations. These FAQs relate to various issues that include interpretation of governing documents, board meetings, suspension of privileges, collections, or bankruptcy and foreclosure.

Question:  We have been told that our association may not be responsible or liable for personal injuries or damages when someone slips and falls. Is that correct?

Answer:  If your by-laws contain a provision providing for tort immunity, the answer may be yes. New Jersey has a tort immunity statute that allows associations to shield themselves from liability for certain types of injuries caused to unit owners due to the association’s negligence. This immunity is applicable as long as the association has certain language in their by-laws or takes the proper steps to amend their by-laws.

Specifically, N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-13 provides:

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Be Careful What You Wish For: Arbitration Is Not Mediation

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Legal Decisions

By Michael S. Karpoff, Esq.

A recent decision by the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court demonstrates the need for precision in defining what method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) an association utilizes or agrees to. Carelessly referring to the ADR procedure as an arbitration can make the ultimate decision binding upon the parties, even if one of the parties had something else in mind.

Attorneys’ Communications Outweighed Asserted Intent

In Marano v. The Hills Highlands Master Association, Inc., which was decided on November 16, 2017, the Court rejected the Association’s argument that it was not bound by an arbitration award because the procedure it had used was intended to be a mediation. The Court found that plaintiff’s counsel had repeatedly referred to the procedure as an arbitration and the hearing officer as the arbitrator without objection by the Association’s attorney, and, in fact, the Association’s attorney had referred on at least one occasion to the hearing officer as “the arbitrator.” The hearing officer submitted to the attorneys an agreement to mediate, which they signed; however, she apparently understood her role as being an arbitrator because she later issued an “Award in Arbitration.”

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Regarding the Radburn: New Law Enhances Voting Participation Rights in New Jersey Community Associations

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in Board Meetings, Elections/Voting, Legal Decisions, Legislation

By Jonathan H. Katz, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law P.L. 2017, Ch. 106 (S-2492/A-4091). The new law makes significant changes to the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (“PREDFDA”), N.J.S.A. 45:22A-43 et seq., with respect to procedures for board elections and voting participation rights. Although the legislation comes in direct response to complaints over a specific association – the Radburn Association in Fair Lawn – it will affect most, if not all, of the estimated 7,000 community associations located in New Jersey.

As outlined in a January 2017 article, the historic Radburn was established in 1929 as a “Town for the Motor Age.” The Radburn boasts 18 acres of internal parks, a shopping plaza, an elementary school, and “other remnants of the founders’ ambitious attempt to create a self-sufficient community.” However, for the past decade, pressure has been increasing from residents seeking to change what they considered to be an outdated and secretive process that the Raburn utilizes to elect its Board of Trustees. Specifically, not every owner in the Radburn was granted the right to either run for or vote for its Board. These issues led to litigation and caused so much uproar that State Senator Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn) introduced this legislation to make the election/voting process more inclusive and transparent.

Now that this legislation has been signed into law, it will change not only the Radburn’s elections, but will also have implications for most of New Jersey’s condominiums and homeowners associations. In fact, most of these newly enacted provisions will trump every association’s current by-laws. The most relevant provisions of the new legislation are as follows:

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