#811-O, Kushawaha v. Stonehedge Condominium Association (July 19, 2006) (Panel: McCabe, Gannon, Vergagni)
The owner of several units (HO) in a condominium association (CA) filed a complaint disputing the annual election of the board of directors, claiming that the board had improperly rejected 40 proxy votes he attempted to submit at the election. The CA claimed that the proxies were improperly drafted and were submitted after the mandatory deadline for turning in proxy votes.
The evidence showed that the CA called an election for May, 2005, but did not have a quorum, and it called a second election for June, 2005. At the June election the HO attempted to turn in 40 proxy votes after the meeting began, and the CA rejected them on the grounds that the rules required that proxies be submitted before the meeting began. At the June meeting also, there was no quorum as required by the CA rules but the notice sent for that second election stated that "those in attendance would constitute a quorum." The CA then proceeded to hold its election on the basis that those present constituted a legally-sufficient quorum. The HO would have won a position on the board if his proxies had been accepted. The evidence also showed that although the CA's own rules required that proxy votes be submitted before the meeting began the CA routinely accepted proxies after the meeting began, and did so at the first (May) election meeting.
The hearing panel ruled that the June, 2005 election was invalid. Although state law allows a condominium association to proceed with an election on the grounds that "those in attendance would constitute a quorum" (even if the quorum requirement of the rules is not otherwise met), the law (Section 11-109(c) (8) of the Maryland Condominium Act) requires that a notice to this effect be included in the original notice calling for an election. The CA violated the law because the notice it sent for the first (May) election did not contain that information. The warning was in the notice for the June election but this did not comply with the terms of the law. Therefore there was no proper quorum at the June meeting and the election was invalid.
The panel ordered the CA to hold another election, giving proper notice; and ruled that the election notice must comply with Section 11-109(c)(8) and must also state a deadline for submission of proxy votes. In addition the panel ordered the CA to comply with its own rules and stop accepting proxy votes after its meetings began.