The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a condominium owners association against its former president on grounds that the claim was untimely and barred by the statute of limitations.
Back in 2001, a former president informed the association that she did not wish to be re-elected as president or to continue overseeing remodeling contracts unless she could be compensated for this work. One board member objected to this as a violation of the bylaws’ prohibition of compensation for board members.
Nonetheless, at a subsequent board meeting, a vote approved the president’s monthly condominium fees being credited in her tenant ledger kept by the association’s property manager, often listed as a credit for “lawn care” or “grounds maintenance.”
In 2011, the association’s board voted to bring suit against the former president for these credited fees, alleging a claim of unjust enrichment. Under Missouri’s statute of limitations, that claim must be brought within five years.
Under Missouri law, a limitations period begins to run when the cause of action accrues. The cause of action shall not be deemed to accrue when the wrong is done or the technical breach of contract or duty occurs, but when the damage resulting therefrom is sustained and is capable of ascertainment.
The Court of Appeals found there was ample documentation putting any board member in late 2001 and early 2002 on notice that the president’s monthly association fees may be credited. The court noted that it did not appear that any member of the board took the opportunity to ascertain the extent of any damages by obtaining and reviewing the tenant ledger from the property management company, but the fact remains that the opportunity existed at that time.
As such, the court concluded, because the last alleged damage, which was a final fee credit for December of 2004, was capable of ascertainment no later than January 1, 2005, the association failed to bring its cause of action for unjust enrichment within the applicable five-year limitations period by filing its petition in May of 2011. The court therefore dismissed the claim.