January 2021 B.E.A.T.

B.E.A.T.
Board Education and Training

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook

Attorney Gregory J. Fioritto presents:

“Guiding Your Association through the Pandemic Endgame”

As we move into a new year, it is imperative that community association boards have the most up-to-date guidance available on handling COVID-19-related legal matters. Gregory J. Fioritto, a partner with the firm, will host this interactive webinar examining the current status of the pandemic as it continues to impact associations. Learn how the introduction of a vaccine in 2021, the incoming presidential administration and other massive changes in our world may radically change the legal landscape once again for association boards. Recently enacted laws that provide associations with potential immunity for COVID-related legal claims will be discussed in depth. Other key topics, such as the re-opening of community facilities upon the introduction of a vaccine and the handling of association meetings, will also be addressed.

If you serve on a community association board or manage community associations, you cannot afford to miss this vital update on how to handle the biggest COVID-19 legal issues and hot topics that associations are sure to face in 2021 and beyond.

For the zoom meeting details, call us at 734-459-0062. This Zoom presentation will be fed through our Facebook Event page.

 

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December 2020 B.E.A.T.

B.E.A.T.

Board Education and Training

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook

Attorney Mark Davis presents:

The Hit List: Updates and Trends in Marijuana Law

This interactive livestream Webinar, presented by Mark Davis of Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC we will delve into recent updates regarding State and Federal marijuana laws, their enforcement, recent case law development, and enforcement options for community associations.

This meeting is interactive and your questions will be answered by a panel in real-time. If you have any questions, you may raise your hand or send a private chat message in the Zoom meeting.

To rsvp and obtain the zoom meeting details, call us at 734-459-0062 x224.

 

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November 2020 B.E.A.T.

Brown Bag B.E.A.T. Bites

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Lee S. Schofield and Stacia A. Miller present:

Interviewing and Choosing your New Property Manager

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook 

Have you ever wondered what the best process is for choosing a new property manager? Whether you are self-managed or interested in a change, this session will explore how to find candidates that will be a good fit for your community, how to schedule and conduct interviews, and what to look for in a management contract.

Have all your organization’s questions answered live by one of our experienced attorneys during this interactive webinar.

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Michigan Provides Community Associations with Immunity from COVID-19 Lawsuits

By: Brooke M. Jordan, Esq.

On October 22, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed into law House Bill 6030, a.k.a. COVID 19- Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act (Act).( http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2019-2020/publicact/pdf/2020-PA-0236.pdf)

This Act provides condominium and homeowners associations with an affirmative defense to civil actions asserted by a co-owner, tenant or invitee arising out of COVID 19 beginning March 1, 2020. These civil actions alleging tort claims resulting from COVID-19 include negligence, gross negligence, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

To enjoy this benefit of immunity, the association must show that it complied with COVID-19 related laws, rules, regulations, and orders that “had not been denied legal effect at the time of the conduct or risk that allegedly caused harm.” Even though the Michigan Supreme Court concluded on October 2, 2020 that the Governor was not authorized to issue executive orders addressing COVID-19 after April 30, 2020 and such orders were denied legal effect, an Association must still show that it complied with those Orders prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

An association’s compliance with COVID-19 related laws, rules, regulations, and orders need not, however, rise to the level of strict compliance.  The Act provides that “isolated, de minimis deviation” by the Association from the laws, rules, regulations, and orders will not render it defenseless from COVID-19. For guidance, an Association should look to Federal, State, and local laws and regulations to carry out its important functions and activities.

For instance, Michigan law imposes a duty on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to “prevent disease, prolong life, and promote public health,” and gives MDHHS the power to “[e]xercise authority and promulgate rules to safeguard properly the public health; to prevent the spread of diseases and the existence of sources of contamination; and to implement and carry out the powers and duties vested by law in the department.”

MDHHS has found that to effectively carry out its duty to protect the public’s health, it must impose rules on public gatherings.  These rules became effective on October 9, 2020. To ensure your Association is afforded the full protection provided by this recently enacted law, it should comply with these rules when holding meetings and maintaining or opening fitness facilities and pools. See https://www.michigan.gov/documents/coronavirus/MDHHS_epidemic_order_-_Gatherings_masks_bars_sports_-_FINAL_signed_704740_7.pdf

In conclusion, this immunity from COVID-19 related tort claims is not absolute and will not apply if the association fails to follow the laws, rules, and regulations issued by Federal authorities, MDHHS, and local governments.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this recently enacted law and its implications on your community, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Brooke M. Jordan joined Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC as an associate attorney in 2020. She graduated from Michigan State University with High Honors in 1997, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations from James Madison College. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in 2001.

Ms. Jordan has been an Assistant Attorney General for the states of Arizona and Michigan. In Arizona, she sought to advance the best interests of children. In Michigan, she represented the State in cases involving securities fraud, antitrust, and consumer protection.

Most recently, Ms. Jordan was a Lead Attorney for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where she was responsible for implementing and managing the Nuisance Abatement Program in the City of Detroit Council Districts 1, 2, and 4. She strategically and effectively aligned with internal and external partners throughout the City of Detroit (including, but not limited to, the City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods, Detroit Police Department, City of Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department, Community Associations, Block Clubs, and residents). Collectively, they passionately sought to eradicate blight, stabilize and rebuild the most densely populated neighborhoods in Detroit. Ms. Jordan sincerely cares about the quality of life of people and proactively seeks ways to assist in a Community’s ability to thrive.

Ms. Jordan has numerous interests outside of legal practice. She very much enjoys spending time with her children. She also enjoys outdoor activities including kayaking, hiking and running.

 

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September 2020 B.E.A.T.

B.E.A.T.

Board Education and Training

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook

Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC and Sterling Insurance Group present:

Handling Community Association Insurance Issues in the COVID-19 Era:
From the Basics to Pandemic Planning

This interactive livestream Webinar, co-presented by Gregory J. Fioritto of Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC, and Josh Martin and Scott McInerney of Sterling Insurance Group, will cover a multitude of topics involving

community associations and insurance.

The basic types of insurance coverages that every association should have will be discussed, as well as some of the more specialized types of coverage (such as workers’ compensation and crime coverage). The usefulness for associations of a well-drafted Disaster Recovery Plan will be explored.

We will also discuss some of the limitations of association coverage when it comes to COVID-19 claims, and how an association might properly handle “Pandemic Planning” for the future.


Brown Bag B.E.A.T. Bites

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tracy N. Danner-Bond presents:

Amending Your Condominium Documents:
Preparing for Success 
During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This session will explore the fundamentals of amending Condominium Master Deeds and Bylaws, with a focus on the most effective practices for completing a project. Specific tips for conducting a successful project through to its conclusion will be offered, including an examination of the best ways to explain proposed changes to both Board Members and Co-owners. We will discuss tactics, such as Co-owner surveys and informational meetings that are most likely to lead to a successful document amendment project outcome and a satisfied membership.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Lee Schofield and Stacia A. Miller presents
“Interviewing and Choosing your New Property Manager”

Have you ever wondered what the best process is for choosing a new property manager? Whether you are self-managed or interested in a change, this session will explore how to find candidates that will be a good fit for your community, how to schedule and conduct interviews, and what to look for in a management contract.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Mark B. Davis presents
“The Hit List: Updates and Trends in Marijuana Law”

We will delve into recent updates regarding State and Federal marijuana laws, governmental enforcement, recent case law development, and enforcement options for community associations.

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FIRM NEWS: ZELMANSKI, DANNER & FIORITTO, PLLC WELCOMES ATTORNEY BROOKE M. JORDAN TO THE ZDF TEAM!

We are pleased to announce that Brooke M. Jordan has joined the firm as an associate attorney.

Ms. Jordan has been an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan. She represented the State in cases involving securities fraud, antitrust, and consumer protection.

Most recently, Ms. Jordan was a Lead Attorney for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where she was responsible for implementing and managing the Nuisance Abatement Program in the City of Detroit Council Districts 1, 2, and 4. She strategically and effectively aligned with internal and external partners throughout the City of Detroit (including, but not limited to, the City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods, Detroit Police Department, City of Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department, Community Associations, Block Clubs, and residents). Collectively, they passionately sought to eradicate blight, stabilize and rebuild the most densely populated neighborhoods in Detroit.

Ms. Jordan graduated from Michigan State University with High Honors in 1997, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations from James Madison College. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in 2001.

We congratulate Ms. Jordan as she moves on to the next step in her progression in the field of community association law!

 

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August 2020 B.E.A.T.

 

B.E.A.T.
Board Education and Training

August 12, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook

Edward J. Zelmanski and Richard L. Wagner present:

Managing the Unexpected: How to Handle Fire, Water and Mold Losses

Boards do their best to manage maintenance, budget, insurance, and other administrative needs of their communities. Then, losses caused by fire, water, mold, and other unexpected occurrences can threaten to unhinge the best laid plans. This will help community board members understand and manage the process of casualty remediation and restoration. The discussion will emphasize timeliness, efficiency, and thoroughness in responding to casualties so that you can help get your community back on an even keel.

Brown Bag B.E.A.T. Bites

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook and Zoom with replays on YouTube and Facebook

Edward J. Zelmanski, Tracy N. Danner-Bond, and Melissa D. Francis present:

How to Conduct Your Annual Meeting Remotely
During the COVID-19 Pandemic
an Association Guide to the “new normal

Join our team for a lunch time discussion on various methods for conducting your annual meetings virtually, including reference materials on the various services and platforms to assist with holding the meetings, voting, and maintaining discussions while adhering to expected social distancing guidelines.

 

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The COVID-19 Health Crisis and Michigan Courts

By: Lee Schofield, Esq.

In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, since March 2020, Michigan Courts have been operating at less than full capacity. Priority has been given to emergency and essential matters, which are defined as those matters which involve an immediate liberty or safety concern–for instance, cases involving personal protection orders, child safety and welfare, domestic matters involving children, etc. Typical community association litigation has not fallen within “emergency” or “essential” definitions and therefore has been delayed, often significantly, with scheduling orders extended, filing deadlines tolled, and jury trials delayed. Those hearings held during the pandemic have generally been heard to the maximum extent possible via remote videoconferencing, and Courts are now encouraged to live stream proceedings to facilitate public remote access.

The Michigan Supreme Court has general superintending control over all courts in Michigan and has issued a significant number of COVID-19-related Administrative Orders, which can be found here: https://courts.michigan.gov/News-Events/Pages/COVID-19.aspx. These orders concern a range of issues, from the handling of cases, including specific types of legal matters to providing guidance on existing Orders and model rules or orders with respect to court access and operations. For instance, on June 29th, the Court issued a Phase 3 Model Local Administrative Order for Michigan courts to follow for Phase 3 reopening. It is hoped that Michigan Courts, along with the State as a whole, will be able to continue a safe re-opening trajectory.

In following and implementing Administrative Orders and guidance issued by the Supreme Court, local court administrators have developed their own local procedures, often based on the model rules but with some variation. While COVID-19 has caused significant delays in pending litigation, Courts have been quick to adapt to remote operations and most matters have, by now, been rescheduled to adjust to the new reality. This adaptation to virtual court and new procedures has happened with remarkable and impressive speed, especially considering the judiciary has made technological and procedural changes at quite a measured pace in the past.

Special mention should again be made with respect to how COVID-19 has affected evictions/landlord-tenant cases. Community associations would typically file such a case if a tenant fails to pay rent to the association after demand, under MCL 559.21(5), if a tenant is persistently violating Condominium Bylaws or Rules under MCL 559.212(4)(b), or in order to obtain possession of a unit following an association foreclosure on a unit.

Governor Whitmer’s latest Executive Order 2020-134, issued on June 24, 2020, extends the moratorium on most evictions in Michigan to July 15, 2020 and simultaneously states that the moratorium will end on July 16. The Order encourages landlords and lenders to take advantage of COVID-19 housing debt remedy funds (termed “Eviction Diversion Program”) rather than proceed with evictions. This fund is available to pay claims for breach of a residential lease, residential executory contract, or residential mortgage due to failure to make a required payment during a state of emergency or state of disaster arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and, therefore, does not apply (unfortunately) to most community association eviction situations.

In addition to the latest pronouncements from the Governor’s office, the Michigan Supreme Court has a specific subsection related to Landlord-Tenant/Evictions at the link above. On June 24th, the Court issued a new Administrative Order 2020-17 regarding treatment and procedures for evictions.

Further guidance on Order 2020-17 was issued by the Court on July 6, 2020. Among many other things, Order 2020-17 requires:

  1. eviction hearings to be scheduled at a specific time, one at a time, regardless of whether they are remote or in person;
  2. a Plaintiff to amend the complaint to update facts and also file a verification form for any cases older than April 16, 2020;
  3. a new procedure for entry of defaults in remote hearing situations if there has not been personal service under MCR 2.105(A).

Previous contributors have discussed what COVID-19 has meant for matters that a community association might bring to court. For instance, our firm’s discussion of the eviction moratorium and Attorney Tracy Danner-Bond’s Q&A regarding collections. However, the Michigan Supreme Court and Governor continue to issue orders and guidance. Depending on data, re-opening may continue, or restrictions may be re-imposed. In short, this area continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Pending litigation has been significantly delayed for Associations, and given the most recent orders, some Associations may want to re-evaluate pending evictions matters, depending on whether facts and circumstances have changed since filing. If you have any questions about how COVID-19 affects a case that is pending or may affect prospective litigation for your community association, please contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.

Lee SchofieldLee S. Schofield is an associate attorney with the Firm. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature at Brigham Young University in 1996, where he was a Trustee Scholar. He obtained his Juris Doctorate at Michigan State College of Law in 2000, where he was an officer of the MSU chapter of Amnesty International. Prior to joining the Firm in 2005, Mr. Schofield practiced commercial law with a firm in Dearborn, Michigan that had an affiliate relationship with an Anglo-Kuwaiti law firm. Mr. Schofield has handled a diverse range of commercial litigation and transactional matters, including litigation and arbitration in state, federal, and international courts, defense contract negotiation and management, small and medium-sized business and real estate transactions, Islamic finance issues, corporate issues, and trademark registrations and disputes.

Mr. Schofield has extensive experience in condominium law, and enjoys advising condominium boards and membership on the diverse array of legal questions that face condominium associations, housing cooperatives, and HOAs. Mr. Schofield’s practice and experience with the Firm has also included a myriad of commercial litigation, real estate and transactional matters.

Mr. Schofield has numerous outside interests, including literature and literary theory, violin, and cooking. He is also a fitness enthusiast and enjoys keeping in shape through running and other physical activities.

 

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Upcoming Live Seminar

We proudly present the following seminar

“Rules Regulating Amenities During COVID-19”

July 15, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

on Facebook Live and Zoom

Covering topics such as the process of adopting rules and regulations, what rules and regulations to consider as a result of COVID-19, and how to enforce them once they have been implemented.

Have all your organization’s questions about best practices for a post-pandemic reality answered live by one of our experienced attorneys during this interactive webinar.

Additionally, visit our website’s COVID-19 Support Center blog page for daily postings relating to COVID-19 http://www.zdfattorneys.com/blog/

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Michigan Supreme Court Establishes Eviction Case Protocols – Eviction Moratorium Update

On June 11, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-118, further extending the moratorium on evictions in Michigan until June 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. We anticipate this will be the last extension, as there is significant pressure to restore legal activities, including evictions, in the court system. We will continue to provide updates on this blog.

In anticipation of the resumption of eviction proceedings, the State of Michigan Supreme Court recently issued Administrative Order 2020-17 to establish statewide eviction protocols for trial courts in order to protect the health of all participants, dispose of the backlog of cases, and assure that defendants are made aware of their legal rights. Two important parts of these procedures are:

  1. Each case will be scheduled for a hearing on a specific date and time. Multiple cases will no longer be scheduled for hearings at the same time.
  2. Cases will be scheduled for hearings in the following order of priority:
    1. First, cases alleging illegal activities or extreme physical damages to the premises;
    2. Second, cases alleging nonpayment of rent for 120 days or more; and
    3. Last, cases with lesser arrearages.

Depending on the type of eviction case, parties should be prepared for some delay in the scheduling of their case for hearing.

The new landlord-tenant court system procedures also include eviction cases being set for either remote or in-court hearings. Further, tenants will be advised of their statutory right to legal counsel at the first hearing. It is important that you check back with our law firm periodically to see if there are any other changes which may affect your eviction case hearing.

You should also be aware that the FHA has extended the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions for all FHA-backed mortgages until August 31, 2020.

If you have any questions on how the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-118 or the Supreme Court’s Administrative Order 2020-17 affects your landlord-tenant relationship or case, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at your earliest convenience. Our experienced attorneys are available to assist you through this process during these unique times.

 

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