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Raburn v. Wiener, Weiss & Madison

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 7, 2018

JONATHAN RABURN
v.
WIENER, WEISS & MADISON, et al.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JUDGE JOHN W. DEGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Community Management, LLC (“Community”). (“Motion, ” Doc. 55). Plaintiff Jonathan Raburn has filed an Opposition to the Motion, (Doc. 61), and Community has filed a Reply in further support of the Motion, (Doc. 68). The parties have also submitted supplemental briefs as discussed infra. (Docs. 72, 73).

         After careful consideration of the law, facts, and arguments of the parties, for the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted. Judgment shall be entered consistent with this Ruling and Order.[1]

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In March 2016, Community entered into an Association Management Agreement (“Agreement”) with the Colony Homeowner's Association, Inc. (“the Colony”), wherein the Colony retained Community to manage its homeowner's association. (See Doc. 55-2 at 1-2). According to the Agreement, Community was authorized to act on behalf of the Colony in all matters affecting the management of its homeowner's association. (Id. at 2). The Agreement sets forth numerous duties for Community to undertake on the Colony's behalf, including association affairs management, financial management services, management and collection of homeowner assessments, establishing a “resale and new resident communication hub, ” legal affairs management, tax management, insurance and investment management, board membership and relationship management, board meeting management, annual meeting management, contractor and vendor management, property and common area management, deed restriction and enforcement, architectural control committee management, and maintaining a customized website. (Id. at 12-16).

         According to an affidavit from one of the “founding members” of Community, Community performs for the Colony “a multitude of services” unrelated to collecting debts. (Doc. 55-5 at 4). Per the affidavit, Community “devotes all of its efforts to managing and maintaining the property and less than five percent to the collection of past due assessments, ” and its “primary purpose is not the collection of debts.” (Id.). Plaintiff's Statement of Contested Material Facts acknowledges that Community and the Colony concluded the Agreement but disagrees that Community was “actually performing” the duties described, as he has not “witnessed performance” of them. (Doc. 61-1 at 1).

         Plaintiff is a member of the Colony who did not pay some monthly assessments as they came due. (Doc. 55-6 at 4). Community claims he failed to pay for “unknown reasons, ” while Plaintiff contends that it is “well established” that he stopped paying because work billed for was not actually being performed. (Id.; Doc. 61-1 at 1).

         On or about March 6, 2017, Community sent Plaintiff a letter advising him of the debt he allegedly owed and that the Colony, “through its agent, ” might place a lien on his property due to his non-payment of assessments. (Doc. 55-3 at 1; Doc. 61-2 at 1). The next paragraph instructed Plaintiff to address questions to “Community Management, LLC, ” and the paragraph after that instructed Plaintiff to “go to www.cmgt.org/thecolony” to make an online payment. (Doc. 55-3 at 1; Doc. 61-2 at 1). The letter was on the Colony's letterhead and signed “The Colony.” (Doc. 55-3 at 1; Doc. 61-2 at 1). The letter closed with the following address block:

PLEASE MAIL PAYMENT TO:
The Colony
C/O Community Management
PO Box 60878 Phoenix, AZ 85082-0878

         (Doc. 55-3 at 1; Doc. 61-2 at 1). According to a declaration from Plaintiff, he initially thought the letter was from the Colony due to the letterhead and signature line. (Doc. 61-4 at 1-2). He did not realize until he re-read the letter ...


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