How good are the CAI member HOA attorneys?

Ever wonder if the CAI member HOA attorneys are worth their fees? How good are they? What’s their Win – Loss stats? This data is very difficult to come by from the trial courts, and even from the appellate courts where records are kept. Of course, we wouldn’t want to get these stats from CAI unless their source data is provided for independent inspection, which is a problem based on the recent CAI “satisfaction surveys” lacking in such material disclosures.

Fortunately, detailed records are available from the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) where proceedings are recorded and decisions posted on the internet. For the short period of 28 months (from September 2006 to February 2009), this state agency was permitted to adjudicate HOA disputes, and decided 52 out of 66 petitions.  Although this is a limited sampling not related to civil court cases — where the Rules of Civil Procedure come into play against the Pro Per — these OAH hearings present a leveling of the litigation playing field. An analysis of these cases will provide a good clue to the litigation value of an HOA attorney, and to whether or not engaging a CAI member attorney resulted in improved success.

A colleague gathered the data, which showed the following prevailing party percentages:

HOA                    53.8%
Homeowner   40.4%
Split                      5.8%

This is quite surprising given that in almost all the cases the homeowner was a Pro Per and the HOA was represented by an attorney; and given the fact that the state laws are clearly pro-HOA, and the governing documents amount to an adhesion contract in favor of the HOA. What the percentages seem to be saying is that “black letter” provisions of the statutes or governing documents — it’s right there, in black and white — were violated by the HOA. That an unambiguous provision had been violated and yet the HOA and its attorney failed to “own up” and voluntarily correct these obvious violations. That it took a hearing by the victimized homeowner in order to obtain justice.

The question before us to be answered is: did using a CAI member attorney improve the stats? Roughly 38% of the petitions, 20 out of 52, involved one of four CAI member attorney firms, with

CAI prevailed                            55.0%
Homeowner prevailed           45.0%

Intuitively, and supported by statistical analysis, engaging CAI member attorneys had no impact on the outcome of the hearings. We then ask: What role, if any, do these attorneys play in HOA disputes? And the answer, partly addressed in the highlighted sentence in the earlier paragraph, and from the prolific advisories from one CAI member firm, Carpenter Hazlewood, is: to seek and promote loopholes and technicalities in the law and governing documents that would lead to adversarial litigation.

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 9:42 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] “How good are the CAI member HOA attorneys?“,  HOA Private Government, Possibly related posts: […]

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