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COVID-19 and Condominium and Subdivision Common Areas: Can Associations in Michigan Get Sued if Someone Gets COVID-19?

by | Apr 12, 2021 | Firm News |

Another article about COVID-19 you say? I know that we are all tired of it and we all want to get back to our old way of life, but over a year later we are still dealing with what many of us naively thought would go away within a few weeks. A lot has changed since March 2020, but some of the same questions remain. One of the big questions were are getting from our condominium association and homeowners association (HOA) clients is whether associations can be sued if someone believes they contracted COVID-19 while using the common areas of a condominium or a subdivision. We get this question most regarding pools, clubhouses, and fitness facilities.

On October 22, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed the COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act (“CRRLA”) into law.[1] The CRRLA provides that a person “who acts in compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders related to COVID-19 that had not been denied legal effect at the time of the conduct or risk that allegedly caused harm is immune from liability for a COVID-19 claim.”[2] For purposes of the CRRLA, a “person” is defined as “an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity, or other legal entity, including, but not limited to, a school, a college or university, an institution of higher education, and a nonprofit charitable organization. Person includes an employee, agent, or independent contractor of the person, regardless of whether the individual is paid or an unpaid volunteer.”[3]

Condominium associations and HOA’s meet the definition of a “person” under the CRRLA. Therefore, as long as they follow any state mandated COVID restrictions for things such as masking, maximum occupancy, and social distancing, associations should be safe from a lawsuit being filed against them. However, if they do not follow the restrictions, they could be opening themselves up to potential liability. While we still maintain that proving exactly where someone contracted COVID would be extremely difficult, that does not mean that someone will not attempt a lawsuit.

If you are a member of an association Board of Directors and you have questions about how to implement a plan to keep your association free from COVID-19 liability, the attorneys at Tilchin & Hall P.C., are here to help. Please email us below or give us a call at (248) 349-6203 .

[1] MCL 691.1451, et seq. The full text of the CRRLA can be found here: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-Act-236-of-2020

[2] MCL 691.1455

[3] MCL 691.1452(e)