An Opinion By Monica Sadler

Published December 7, 2004


Please be advised of three recent adverse rulings, against  "The People of the State of Illinois," and in favor of the Oak Run Property Owners Association Inc.  These rulings  were made in open court, by Judge Steven Mathers, on December 2, 2004.

The three criminal complaints against the Association, which were filed by the State's Attorney's Office in September 2003, involved the Oak Run POA's failure to allow inspection of the membership list, an act required by 805 ILCS 105/107.75.

The criminal charges were filed after the State's Attorney, Paul L. Mangieri, had expressly instructed the Oak Run POA Manager, in writing, to comply with the law in Illinois. 

Oak Run POA attorneys have stated that POA members have no statutory rights, and that no request for inspection of any documents, including the membership list, will be considered, unless the members' written requests are duplicated onto a special form available only at the POA office. 

The Oak Run POA's "document control policy" requires that all requests for the membership list must be forwarded to legal counsel, and the POA's policy specifically prohibits a member from using the list for political purposes, unless the Board approves of their request to do so, in writing.

Oak Run POA Attorney, Charles Rock, (of Hasselburg, Rock and Kuppler in Peoria, Illinois) defended the POA's failure to follow the express directive of the State's Attorney, to provide the membership list, by stating that he would show that those three members of the Oak Run POA had committed "fraud upon the
Court" and "fraud upon the State's Attorney." 

Attorney Charles Rock also stated that those same three members had "lied to the State's Attorney," and that "they lied to the Oak Run POA," -- more specifically, that they had all lied about the reasons for the requested inspection of the membership list. 

The POA members were publicly described by Attorney Rock as  "foils and puppets" who had been "trotted in" for vexatious reasons only, and were not entitled to inspect the membership list, because the only reason they wanted to do so was to "harass Oak Run."

Two of the POA complainants (Barney Olson, who is an attorney, and James Sadler, who is a retired businessman who serves on a HOA Board of Directors in Hawaii) had expressly indicated, in their written requests to the POA, that their "proper purpose" to inspect the membership list related solely to their
desire to run for election to the Oak Run Board of Directors.

The third member's "purpose" was indicated to be a desire to "communicate with the membership" ie. about certain safety issues and about certain fees being charged by the POA in addition to the annual maintenance assessments.

The State's Attorney proved that all three complainants were, in fact, "voting members" --  who were, in fact, entitled to inspect the membership list -- and that their requests were, in fact,  made during "reasonable business hours." 

The State showed that the requests for inspection were made in writing, and were, in fact, delivered in advance (by Fed-X and FAX from Olson and Sadler).(Neither of which are required by the Statute.)

The Oak Run POA Manager, Michael Davison, (who is a recently credentialed "professional" by Community Associations Institute) testified that all three members had, in fact, stated proper purposes for the requested inspections, but that Oak Run refused to allow  the inspections.

What else could the State have done? Why did "The People of the State of Illinois" lose these three important cases?  You be the Judge.  The Court's December 2, 2004, ruling is being transcribed and will be made available to you, in its entirety, as soon as possible.

Judge Mathers seems to be quite concerned that while there was a plethora of civil cases cited to him to support the State's position, that there were no criminal cases cited.

Do these cases exist in any State?  Are other HOAs being cited for violations by elected officials (or are those in your State too busy trying murderers and child molesters)?  Why are there no published decisions?

The Court's ruling should make it crystal clear to legislators, in every state, why HOA reforms are necessary to better protect even basic homeowners rights.  Without enforcement, those important rights are meaningless. 

An agency must be established to oversee common interest communities, in every state, in order to effectively deal with ever-increasing complaints against HOA Boards and/or the attorneys who misadvise them.

Until that happens, "Let the buyer beware."