The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal recently affirmed a judgment in favor of a condo association regarding their liability for fire damage to the interior of a condo unit. The association argued that they had provided notice of the requirement that all condo owners purchase their own insurance for unit interiors, as stated in their Rules and Regulations. But the condo owner, Mrs. Lourie, argued that the association or the insurer should be held liable for the damages from a fire.
After a fire in the kitchen damaged the interior of Mrs. Lourie’s condo unit, her insurer paid $28,200.00 for damages to her unit, plus $34,330.07 for damages to the contents of her unit, and an award of $16, 645.88 for living expenses.
Mrs. Lourie filed a petition for damages against the association and its insurer. She argued that under the Louisiana Condominium Act, her condo association or the insurer must reimburse her for the payments her insurance company made to her or on her behalf, and must pay her additional damages sustained to her condo that were not covered under own insurance policy. In the alternative, Mrs. Lourie argued that her condo association was liable for negligence and breach of duty if they did not obtain the insurance coverage provided by the Louisiana Condominium Act.
The condo association moved for summary judgment, arguing it was not liable for the fire damage. It exempted itself from insuring the interior of Mrs. Lourie’s condo. The association claimed they notified her on more than one occasion that they would not insure her interior. This notice was provided in the rules and regulations, a copy of which was provided to Mrs. Lourie when she purchased her condo, as well as hand-delivered after an update to the rules and regulations.
After a hearing, the trial court granted the condo association’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Mrs. Lourie had both constructive and actual notice that the association would not insure individual condo units.
Mrs. Lourie, on appeal, argued that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the condo association exempted itself from the requirement of insuring the interior of her apartment, under Louisiana law. The appellate court asked whether a genuine issue of material fact remained regarding Mrs. Lourie’s notice that the condo association would not maintain insurance on her unit.
The court found that when Mrs. Lourie bought her condo, the association had a clearly established policy, providing they would not be responsible for interior damage. The court also stated that when she acquired the unit, Mrs. Lourie acknowledged in written format that the purchase of the condo was made subject to the covenants, restrictions, and limitations set forth in the declarations of the condo association. In fact, the court stated it is not significant whether a copy of the rules was hand-delivered to Mrs. Lourie. The rule itself reminds unit owners that it is their responsibility to purchase insurance coverage for the interior of their condo units.
This case demonstrates the nuances of insurance law. At the Lavis Law Firm, our homeowners’ insurance attorneys represent homeowners in their resolution of disputes surrounding insurance claims and coverage. Contact us today at 866. 558.9151 or online for a free consultation.
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