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Alexandria at Hillsborough Condominium Association Inc. v. Cichowicz

Decided: November 30, 1992.

ALEXANDRIA AT HILLSBOROUGH CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PAUL CICHOWICZ AND HELEN CICHOWICZ, DEFENDANTS



Dilts, J.s.c.

Dilts

FINDINGS OF FACT

Trial was held on November 16, 1992.

The court finds that defendants, Paul and Helen Cichowicz ("Cichowicz") were owners of a condominium unit at Alexandria at Hillsborough. In April 1991 the defendants filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. On June 20, 1991 the trustee in bankruptcy filed a notice of proposed abandonment proposing to abandon his interest in defendants' condominium unit on the basis of it being of inconsequential value to the estate. The value of the condominium was listed at $65,000 and there were two secured liens, one in the amount of $60,000 and the other in excess of $11,500. In addition to these two secured liens, Alexandria at Hillsborough Condominium Association, Inc. ("Condominium Association") was listed as a lien holder in the amount of $3,421.70 for condominium assessment fees through and including June 1991. Total liens exceeded $75,000, and there was no equity in the condominium unit.

By June 30, 1991, defendants Cichowicz had abandoned the condominium unit. They did not occupy the premises nor did they rent them to any third party. They received no financial benefit whatsoever from the premises after June 30, 1991. The only action taken by the defendants was, upon the advice of their bankruptcy attorney, to pay approximately $100 per year to continue liability insurance coverage.

On August 19, 1991 an order discharging defendants Cichowicz was entered by the bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy act. It discharged defendants Cichowicz from all "dischargeable debts". It further declared that any judgment

entered in the past or in the future (other than in the bankruptcy court) shall be null and void as a determination of personal liability of defendants Cichowicz with respect to debts dischargeable under the bankruptcy act. The order further enjoined all creditors from pursuing those debts.

The court finds that the plaintiff Condominium Association released all personal liability claims for monthly condominium fees through the date of the bankruptcy order (August 1991) and is not pursuing a claim for those fees.

In this action plaintiff claims that defendants Cichowicz are personally liable for the monthly assessment fee from September 1, 1991 through November 1, 1992. The monthly fee is $173 per month for each month during this period, plus a late charge of $10 per month. In addition, the Association seeks one-third attorney's fees in accordance with the terms of the Master Deed. The total sum claimed due and owing is $2,745.00 for condominium fees and late charges from September 1, 1991 and $920 in attorney's fees. The total amount sought is $3,665.00.

In or about January 1992 a mortgage foreclosure action was filed by the first mortgage holder. The court finds that a judgment of foreclosure has been entered and that the Sheriff's Sale of the condominium unit is scheduled to take place on or about December 1, 1992. The court finds that defendants Cichowicz have not executed any surrender or release of their right of redemption to the foreclosed property nor transferred title to the property. The court further finds that defendants Cichowicz have taken no steps to exercise the right of redemption and plaintiff Paul Cichowicz testified that he does not intend to do so.

QUESTION PRESENTED

Whether a condominium owner who has been adJudged bankrupt and whose debts have been discharged remains personally liable for ...


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