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The President Has Run Amok

Who runs a condominium? Simple answer: the board of managers. But who runs the board? In a healthy board it’s a team approach, and even though certain board members have specific duties (e.g. the president schedules meetings, the treasurer prepares the budget, the secretary records meeting minutes) it is the entire board that must work together to promote the common good. What to do then, when the president of the board takes it upon himself to act as a board of one?

In Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s client’s situation the president (let’s call him Rex, because he thought he was king) was taking actions contrary to the rest of the board. Board meetings became nothing but shouting matches, with Rex, determined to have his way, steadfastly insisting that as president he had sole authority to take such actions as he saw fit. Under the mantle of his supposed authority, Rex (a notorious and frequent pro se litigant) conducted a personal vendetta against board members and unit owners, even threatening them at various times with criminal charges and civil suits. Attempts to call special meetings (of both the board and of the unit owners) were blocked by Rex. Rex used the threat of law-suits against other board members to quash any opposition. The last straw was a clearly libelous letter that Rex sent to all unit owners, purportedly on behalf of the entire board, in which he defamed another unit owner. It was clear that the board had to take immediate action to oust Rex, and they came to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. to develop a strategy to restore order.

Scrupulously following the condominium’s own bylaws, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. established a game plan for the board that led them through every step to remove Rex. As the firm had not yet been officially retained by the board, Rex denied the firm entry into the meeting, forcibly pushing the firm out the door in spite of protests from the other board members. But Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. had properly armed them for the battle: the firm had provided them with precise instructions on how to bring up and vote on emergency new business: (e.g. discharge current counsel (Rex’s buddy) and retain new counsel so that the firm could re-enter the meeting) and, as the next order of business, remove Rex.

At each step of the way, Rex resorted to his usual tactics of quoting phantom provisions of the bylaws and New York law. And at each step of the way, the firm countered him with detailed citations to what the documents actually provided. The firm made sure that every facet of the meeting was conducted in absolute conformance with the bylaws, in order to leave no procedural basis for Rex to prevail in the suit the firm was certain Rex would commence. Indeed, the firm so thoroughly covered all bases that now ex-president Rex actually brought no suit, recognizing that he could not prevail, and that Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. would not allow the board to be bullied any further; so the board was soon able to resume the proper management of the building. The tools to remedy the board’s problem (scrupulous adherence to the bylaws) were readily at hand; the firm’s guiding of the board on how to effectively employ those tools was the key to a successful outcome.

Adam Leitman Bailey and Leonard H. Ritz represented the board of managers in this action.

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