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Tuscany Grove Ass'n v. Peraino

Court of Appeals of Michigan

July 14, 2015

TUSCANY GROVE ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff/Counterdefendant-Appellant,
v.
KIMBERLY PERAINO, Defendant/Counterplaintiff-Appellee

Macomb Circuit Court. LC No. 2012-003166-CH.

Before: HOEKSTRA, P.J., and JANSEN and METER, JJ.

OPINION

Page 235

[311 Mich.App. 391] Per Curiam.

In this dispute relating to the enforcement of condominium bylaws, plaintiff appeals

Page 236

as of right the trial court's order granting summary disposition to defendant on the basis of the determination that plaintiff lacked authority to initiate the present action. Because plaintiff failed to obtain approval from a supermajority of co-owners before filing suit in violation of the plain language of the bylaws and plaintiff's efforts to obtain approval after the fact failed to comply with the voting formalities set forth in the bylaws, we affirm.

Tuscany Grove Condominium (hereafter " Tuscany Grove" ) is a condominium complex established in Shelby Township, Michigan in 2001 under the Condominium Act, MCL 559.101, et seq Plaintiff, the Tuscany Grove Association, which has responsibility for administration and management of the condominium complex, is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under the Nonprofit Corporation Act, MCL 450.2201, et seq. Defendant, Kimberly Peraino, owns one of the condominium units in Tuscany Grove. Plaintiff filed the present lawsuit against defendant in an effort to compel defendant's compliance with certain fencing-related [311 Mich.App. 392] restrictions contained within the condominium bylaws. However, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary disposition because plaintiff lacked authority to initiate the present suit. In particular, the trial court concluded that plaintiff itself had violated the condominium bylaws by failing to obtain the requisite approval of a supermajority of owners before incurring legal expenses involved with litigation. Plaintiff now appeals as of right.

At issue on appeal is the application of a provision in the condominium bylaws requiring plaintiff to obtain approval from 66 2/3% of co-owners before incurring any legal expenses incident to litigation. Plaintiff disputes the applicability of this provision on appeal. In particular, plaintiff contends that, as a matter of contract interpretation, application of this clause leads to absurd results when the bylaws are considered as a whole and that, in these circumstances, the provision should not be applied. In addition, plaintiff contends that the clause is void because it impermissibly conflicts with the Condominium Act and the Nonprofit Corporation Act. Finally, plaintiff argues that the trial court should not have granted defendant's motion for summary disposition because plaintiff complied with the supermajority requirement, albeit after filing suit, by obtaining the approval of 73.7% of owners by way of petitions. Given this approval from co-owners, plaintiff maintains that it would be contrary to the statutory schemes as well as the bylaws themselves to prevent the co-owners from choosing to ratify the litigation against defendant. We disagree with each of these arguments.

On appeal, we review de novo a trial court's decision to grant a summary disposition motion. Groves v Dep't of Corrections, 295 Mich.App. 1, 4; 811 N.W.2d 563 [311 Mich.App. 393] (2011). Likewise issues involving statutory interpretation, as well as contract interpretation, present issues of law that are reviewed de novo. Johnson v QFD, Inc, 292 Mich.App. 359, 364; 807 N.W.2d 719 (2011).

Pursuant to the Condominium Act, the administration of a condominium project is governed by the condominium bylaws. MCL 559.153. Bylaws are attached to the master deed and, along with the other condominium documents, the bylaws dictate the rights and obligations of a co-owner in the condominium. See MCL 559.103(9)and (10); MCL 559.108. Condominium bylaws are interpreted according to the rules governing the interpretation of a contract. See Rossow v Brentwood Farms Dev, Inc, 251 Mich.App. 652, 658; 651 N.W.2d 458 (2002). Accordingly, this Court begins by examining

Page 237

the language of the bylaws. See Wiggins v City of Burton, 291 Mich.App. 532, 551; 805 N.W.2d 517 (2011). Words are interpreted according to their plain and ordinary meaning. McCoig Materials, LLC v Galui Constr., Inc., 295 Mich.App. 684, 694; 818 N.W.2d 410 (2012). Further, this Court avoids interpretations that would render any part of the document surplusage or nugatory, and instead this Court gives effect to every word, phrase, and clause. Id. Ultimately, we enforce clear and ...


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