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CCOC Decision Summary

#572-0, Saling v. Cabin John Gardens Inc., (April 15, 2003) (Panel: Van Grack, Perkins)

The homeowner (HO) filed a complaint against his housing cooperative (HC) claiming that it had taken an excessively and unreasonably long time to respond to his complaints about his sewer line defects.He requested an award of legal fees as well.

The evidence produced at the hearing showed that although the HO had experienced problems with the HC's sewer lines for almost 9 years, the HC finally resolved the problem shortly after the complaint was filed with the Commission.

The hearing panel ruled that the HC's failure to repair the sewer lines properly was unacceptable and in violation of its legal obligations; however, that issue had become moot.In addition the panel found that the legal fees requested involved fees charged to the HO by his attorney in a separate case in the court system, rather than for fees charged in prosecuting his case before the hearing panel.

The repairs having been made the only issue remaining before the panel was that of the request for attorney fees.The panel denied the request for attorney fees on the grounds that it had no legal authority in this case to award them, and the general rule was that each party bore the cost of its own attorneys.

{Editor's note: Under Chapter 10B of the Montgomery County Code, a hearing panel can award attorney's fees only if the association's own rules require them, or if the party is guilty of acting unreasonably or in bad faith in a proceeding filed with the Commission.]

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