NV supreme court upholds HOAs as public forums

Last week the Nevada Supreme Court, in Kosor,[i] citing California Davis-Stirling law and Damon[ii] and Kite Hill[iii] opinions, affirmed HOAs as public forums. Issues relating to HOA governance are matters of public interest protected by free political speech.

In short, legitimate and valid criticisms of your HOA and its president and board are protected from HOA lawsuits of defamation and libel. At heart: Are the statements made in good faith and truthful?

Kosor filed an anti-slapp motion in defense that argues that the statements at issue were protected under free public speech —  statements that were of general interest to the public.  In summary, here’s what the Court upheld, following California’s rulings and law.

Accordingly, we conclude that Kosor met his prima facie burden to demonstrate that the statements in question were all made in public forums on a matter of public interest.

“Nextdoor.com post qualifies as a public forum for the purposes of anti-SLAPP protections. . . .these steps [Kosor’s statements] do not seem to differ significantly from that which might be required to view posts on Facebook; that is, a post on Nextdoor.com is as compatible with expressive activity as one on the other platform, which we have already held can support a public forum.

“The HOA here is no less of ‘a quasi-government entity’ than that in Damon, ‘paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government.’”

“it appears that Kosor’s post, like his HOA meeting commentary, campaign flyer, and printed letter, sought to open conversation among Southern Highlands community members and enlist their participation in the community’s decision-making process.

Does your state protect your right to dissent in an HOA?  Why not?

References


[i] Kosor v. Olympia Companies, NV No, 75669 (Dec. 31, 2020).

[ii] Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club, 102 Cal. Rptr. 2d 205 (Ct. App. 2000).

[iii] Cohen v. Kite Hill Cmty. Ass’n, 191 Cal. Rptr. 209 (Ct. App. 1983).

HOAs as ‘windmills’

This is my statement on the rejection of my efforts to restore constitutional protections to HOAs by a society suffering from a decay and decline in ethical, moral, and democratic values.

The reality of the HOA “windmills”

This metallic wall sculpture has been hanging on my wall for some 43 years. Bought at an arts and crafts show in a small town in Westchester County, NY.  I thought about selling it some 7 years ago but decided to hold on to it for some reason or other. Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that acquiring it was a sign of my destiny, which turned out to be my 20 years of activism for substantive constitutional HOA reform legislation.

Most people will recognize the sculpture as the delusional knight Don Quixote doing battle against ferocious giants –windmills. 

However, Miquel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de La Mancha (published in 2 volumes in 1605 and 1615)  has  deeper meanings relating to persons of high morals and ideals in a society that has  lost the values of chivalry and honor – of doing the right thing and coming to the aid of others. 

Cervantes portrays Quixote as being out of touch with the reality of his times.  As for my efforts, the windmills are real. They are HOAs. There are numerous reviews of Don Quixote revealing Cervantes’ deeper meanings as quoted in several examples below:

“He had the moral courage in him to go beyond the ordinary in spite of those around him thinking of him as an outlier. He could imagine what others couldn’t — the first step to greatness and leadership.

“After Quixote had imagined what was possible, he had it in him to commit to it and believe in the purity of his goals.

“The novel’s message that individuals can be right while society is wrong was considered radical for its day.”

I have written about the culture within HOA-Land; I have written about the decline and decay in society’s moral, ethical, and democratic values. (See Constitutional Local Government and HOA Constitutional Government). For the most part, my analyses and warnings have been ignored by elected officials and politicians at all levels, by the public at large, and by a large majority of homeowners living in HOAs. So, it appears that like Don Quixote,  I am out-of-step with the reality of these times.

But it doesn’t make me wrong!  Historians will judge.

Failing to achieve substantive HOA reforms

Is there a way out?  Definitely yes!

It is not by going to state legislatures to be repeatedly rejected, or given token reforms but with no substantive redress of grievances. It is not by repeatedly expecting the courts to do homeowner justice in spite of the strong stare decisis precedent of pro-HOA laws and public policy favoring HOA-Land. It is not by expecting law colleges to provide a balanced educational program in law for students that includes HOA constitutionality.

And it is not by hoping that the media — granted special 1st Amendment protections to inform and educate the citizens on political matters — will measure up and so present the whole HOA truth that has been so long hidden from the public.

As a result of my 21 years of activism and advocacy for HOA constitutionality, and my education and detailed research, I have come to understand the greater social and political forces at work. These forces that have led to the current culture and environment surrounding the HOA legal scheme and structure. They are detailed in my “The HOA-Land Culture.”

Read more at Cult behavior within HOA-Land and Plan to Restructure HOA model.

HOA limited-purpose public directors and officers

I just viewed the live Arizona appellate  court oral arguments in Tarter v. Bendt (CA-CV 19-0703 (Ariz.App. Div. 1 (2019)) and found it very informative. I have attended AZ SC oral hearings before but not an appellate hearing.

Bendt’s (defendant homeowner) attorney did an excellent job given the fact that she wasn’t the trial court attorney.  I was very pleased to hear her arguments on limited-purpose public person that I missed over these years.  Her rebuttal on free public speech was excellent!  As you know I’ve posted a few cases on this issue that, in general, addresses the topic that HOAs are public forums subject to free political speech protections – you can criticize your HOA within limits.

limited-purpose public figure is either:

“One who voluntarily becomes a key figure in a particular controversy, or one who has gained prominence in a particular, limited field, but whose celebrity has not reached an all-encompassing level.”

Two examples of holding HOA directors and officers subject to free speech doctrine can be found in Dublirer v. 2000 Linwood Avenue Owners Assn (NJ Supreme Court, 2014) and in Cabrera v. Alam (Cal. App. 4th (2011).

This case, although involving an HOA president’s conduct, Tarter, who is also a lawyer,  is really an issue of defamation by the president against Bendt. The argument by Bendt’s attorney is that the HOA president is a limited-purpose public figure as described above and there was no valid defamation according to law —  no malice. Malice being defined as: knowing that it is false; or acting with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.

It is very informative that anyone thinking of suing his HOA should watch the oral arguments and see how harsh and strict the court demands supportable and defensible evidence. And how your attorney must be able to respond to questions by the judges and arguments by the HOA.

A MUST VIEW AT  TARTER. (45 minutes; the last 5 minutes present the public forum argument by Bendt’s attorney).

Homeowner rights advocate Staropoli: Recommended Author

Amazon books/eBooks has a category “Recommended Authors For You.” While in my Amazon Prime page, it appeared on-and-off when I viewed an author in the constitutional law category (Oct. 30, 2020).  I am proud to say that my years of hard work has paid off this month with Amazon recognizing that I’m an author of note in this category.  Apparently it selectively appears depending on your interest history.

I met Randy E. Barnett, the top-right author, and have an autographed copy of his book, Restoring the Lost Constitution. I also appeared on his Amazon author web page (Amazon randomly selects qualified authors for recommendations).