Is CAI a coercive HOA monopoly?

Community Associations Institute (CAI) dominates themarket for HOA educational services and controls the market around it by means of its extensive lobbying of state legislatures and by holding seminars, conferences and publications extolling its self-serving agenda that promotes the HOA legal structure and scheme; by the support  of state agencies that sponsor CAI seminars and classes, and by private entities trained under the CAI education program – ECHO in California and CALL in Florida, as examples. It has become successful in lessening competition as a result of its “improper conduct.”

A quick review of the internet postings shows (emphasis added),

“[The]  courts ask if that leading position was gained or maintained through improper conduct—that is, something other than merely having a better product, superior management or historic accident. In the end, courts will decide whether the monopolist’s success is due to ‘the willful acquisition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident.’”

“Coercive monopoly” is defined as:

A monopoly that is created using extraordinary power such as a government or international agency. For example, a government that grants legal protections to firms that create barriers to entry to prevent competition. Firms commonly lobby governments for rules that protect them from competition.”

With respect to CAI, a tax-exempt nonprofit, can it be charged as a monopoly? It is a well-established fact that no state has granted  CAI a protective government monopoly exclusion —  the right to lessen competition. And that includes local governments in several states that openly support and encourage the CAI HOA program; some states have actually employed CAI as its authority to educate the public regarding HOAs.

The  answer is YES according to the following Supreme Court case. The case addresses the instance where  the state assigns a “governmental monopoly” (making it a state-actor) to an entity (which HOAs are not), but must explicitly state that the entity has the right to lessen competition,

“Under this Court’s state-action immunity doctrine, when a local governmental entity acts pursuant to a clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed state policy to displace competition, it is exempt from scrutiny under the federal antitrust laws. In this case, we must decide whether a Georgia law that creates special-purpose public entities called hospital authorities and gives those entities general corporate powers, including the power to acquire hospitals, clearly articulates and affirmatively expresses a state policy to permit acquisitions that substantially lessen competition. Because Georgia’s grant of general corporate powers to hospital authorities does not include permission to use those powers anticompetitively, we hold that the clear-articulation test is not satisfied, and state-action immunity does not apply.”

 (F.T.C. v. Phoebe Putney Health System (133 S.Ct. 1003 (2013)).

CALL TO ACTION

I believe the case can be made for a CAI monopoly and for the Feds to  investigate (Citizens Complaint Center, Antitrust Division, DOJ),  and to file an appropriate antitrust lawsuit ASAP.

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