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Winghaven Residential Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Bridges

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

March 10, 2015

WINGHAVEN RESIDENTIAL OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., Appellant,
v.
PAUL BRIDGES AND PENNY BRIDGES, Respondents

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Charles County. Honorable Norman Steimel III.

FOR APPELLANT: Todd J. Billy, Nodiff & Billy, The Community Association Lawyers, St. Louis, Missouri.

Paul Bridges and Penny Bridges, Respondents Acting Pro Se, O'Fallon, Missouri.

Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J., Concurs, Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., J., Concurs.

OPINION

Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge.

Page 384

Introduction

Appellant WingHaven Residential Owners' Association (" the Association" ) appeals from the judgment of the trial court entered in favor of the Association and against Respondents Paul Bridges and Penny Bridges (" Respondents" ). The Association alleges that the trial court erred in awarding only $500 in attorneys' fees because the Association presented substantial and uncontradicted evidence that it incurred $4,699.50 in reasonable attorneys' fees, and the trial court offered no explanation as to the reduced award.[1] Because the Association has failed to establish that the award was a clear abuse of trial court discretion, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

WingHaven is a mixed-use development in St. Charles County. The Association is a nonprofit corporation comprised of all owners of real property located within WingHaven and subject to the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions for WingHaven Residential Property (" Declaration" ). The Association is responsible for owning, operating, and maintaining common areas in WingHaven as well as administering and enforcing the Declaration. Pursuant to the Declaration, the Association is authorized to levy assessments against WingHaven lot owners, to bring actions to enforce collection of the assessments, and to collect reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in the enforcement thereof from delinquent lot owners.

Respondents are owners of a lot located in WingHaven and subject to the Declaration. On August 15, 2013, the Association brought suit against Respondents for

Page 385

breach of contract alleging that Respondents failed to pay the 2013 annual assessment. The petition included a request for post-judgment attorneys' fees from a previous case brought against Respondents in 2012 in addition to a request for attorney's fees already incurred in this case and any fees required for collecting or defending the judgment.

The matter was heard in a bench trial on April 1, 2014. After presenting testimony on the merits of the case, the Association's attorney testified ...


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