Condominiums projects are becoming more complex and multi-faceted. It is not uncommon to have several large condominium buildings developed in close proximity that share amenity areas, parking garages, roadways and security gate houses. In these instances, there are many new and challenging legal issues that may arise.
In litigation generally, and personal injury litigation (slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents etc.) in particular, some lawyers take the approach of naming as defendants “anyone and everyone” who could be potentially connected to the incident. We have dealt with a number of situations where a condo corporation and/or its management provider are improperly named in a lawsuit due to the complexities of the condominium site and the location of where the incident occurred. Here is a recent example:
An owner is having guests who park in the underground visitor parking. One guest slips in the underground parking suffering a serious injury and brings a claims against his friend’s condo corporation assuming that the parking garage must be part of the condominium. This condo corporation, even though the parking garage is not part of the condo corporation’s common elements, must now put the claim through its insurer and disclose the claim on the status certificate. The parking area (where the injury happened) is part of a neighbouring condo corporation, which is accessed by four other condo corporations and governed by a shared facilities agreement. While this issue was eventually sorted out and the condo corporation was removed as a party to the lawsuit, it still involved a significant amount of time and costs.
Lawyers will typically write to all potentially relevant parties after being retained by a personal injury client to put the parties on notice about the incident. When a condo corporation or management receives such a notice, in addition to notifying its insurer as precaution, it is advisable to investigate the location of the injury and determine if the incident occurred on the common elements of the condo corporation. While the lawyer for the plaintiff should be ascertaining this information prior to sending the letter and/or commencing the lawsuit, this does not always happen. If the property is not managed by the management company for the condo corporation or is not part of the condominium, this should be raised as soon as possible. The sooner this is brought to the attention of legal counsel, the quicker it will be investigated and perhaps result in the condo corporation being removed as a party from the outset.