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Meyers v. Apple Ridge Association

BER-C-273-03 (N.J. Super. Ch. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS; VOTING—Absent a showing of irreparable harm, Unit Owners cannot have an election suspended; rather, the election should proceed and the ballots should be preserved until the underlying issues have been resolved.

A condominium association’s board formed a committee to review its declaration and bylaws. It was decided to make amendments and the board mailed letters to all unit owners with the proposed amendments and a ballot. The board provided an eleven-month voting and consent period. Over one hundred owners voted. Two months before the voting and consent period ended, the board’s president unilaterally wrote to all unit owners suggesting that the proposed amendments were deficient and should be re-examined, and that all ballots cast at that point were therefore invalidated. The president went on to state that once the amendments were revised, the eleven-month voting window would start over. In response, some of the condominium owners sued the association and moved for an interlocutory injunction.

The unit owners argued that the president’s letter violated the New Jersey Condominium Act and the New Jersey Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act because no binding vote of the board can be taken except at a board meeting open to attendance by all unit owners upon adequate notice. Here, the unit owners asserted that there was no board meeting authorizing the president’s letter, and therefore the letter should be nullified and the voting should continue as scheduled. The association argued that there was an insufficient showing to justify injunctive relief.

To obtain preliminary relief, the unit owners had to show irreparable harm, that the relief sought was premised upon settled law, that there was a reasonable probability of success on the merits, and that balancing of the hardships suggested that the relief should be granted. The Chancery Court concluded that the unit owners failed to meet this burden. First, the Court held that there was no irreparable harm even though the owners claimed that if the voting process were discontinued they would be irreparably harmed. The Court disagreed, holding that neither party would be irreparably harmed by ordering a cessation of the voting process until the issues were clarified. Furthermore, the Court held that unit owners failed to clearly establish any breach or lack of good faith on the association’s part. Therefore the Court could not hold that the owners had a reasonable probability of success on the merits. Although the Court refused to direct the board how to proceed with the voting process, it required that all ballots were to be preserved until the issue had been resolved.

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