SWB Wins Insurance Coverage for Clients in Federal Court

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Congratulations to our firm’s clients, Phil and Susan Swartztrauber, for winning a court order obtaining insurance coverage against Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America.

The case was handled by Alex Beard.  The Swartztraubers were board members of their Home Owners Association (HOA), and were sued for alleged defamation in an underlying suit filed by the HOA’s President.  Travelers insured the HOA, but refused to provide the Swartztraubers with a defense to the defamation suit.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner disagreed, and ruled that Travelers breached its policy contract, and violated the Texas Prompt Payment Statute, by failing to provide the Swartztraubers with a defense.  So, Travelers will have to pay for the defense, legal fees and costs of the coverage case, as well as the underlying lawsuit.

Great work, Alex!

 

AMENDMENTS TO TEXAS HOA LAW FINALLY GIVE HOMEOWNERS A STICK TO FIGHT BACK WITH

HOA Texas

Recent changes in the law finally give Texas homeowners a stick to fight back against abusive practices by Texas homeowners associations.  If you are reading this, you’ve no doubt heard of HOA horror stories. Perhaps you’ve been a victim of HOA harassment or bullying.  HOAs are not regulated by the state or federal government. They are often formed as “non-profit” corporations and claim to be “self-governing entities,” but all too often they act more like private governments, claiming the power to tax, have a police force, impose regulations, and dictate zoning.

HOA Horror Stories

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Ahh, HOA’s.  You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em.  And those who hate ‘em usually have a good reason.  Maybe the HOA is on their case about a fence needing repair.  Maybe it’s that dues haven’t been paid on time and the HOA is threatening foreclosure (yes, strange as it may seem, most HOA’s have the authority to take your home if you do not pay).  Maybe it’s a fine that was imposed because you went on vacation and forgot to have someone cut the grass. No infraction is too small for some HOAs.

I’ve represented homeowners in disputes with their HOAs, and let me tell you, nothing surprises me anymore.  Sure, there are some good HOAs out there.  But there are also a lot of bad ones, ones that will spare no expense in “ensuring a homeowner’s compliance.” That often means legal action, with the homeowner viewed as easy prey.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately the laws governing homeowners associations are beginning to change, with more protections built in for homeowners.  But a lot more work is left to be done.  I will be attending a conference in a couple of weeks where some of these changes will be discussed.  I’ll make another blog entry upon my return.

In the meantime, check out Jacquielynn Floyd’s editorial in Dallas Morning News about how living is easy IF you bow to your HOA.

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2015/10/05/are-you-on-your-homeowners-association-s-radar/