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Clean Energy Decision: Court Upholds Schulman Bhattacharya Lawsuit Asserting Rights to Install Electric Vehicle Charging System in District of Columbia Condominium Building

Oct 30

In an important decision promoting clean energy in the District of Columbia, D.C. Superior Court Judge Heidi M. Pasichow upheld a 7 count complaint filed by Schulman Bhattacharya on behalf of a condominium owner asserting the right to install electric vehicle supply equipment (“EVSE”) in her building’s assigned parking space.

Schulman Bhattacharya’s clients, the EB Trust and its trustees, own a condominium in the Chase Point Condominiums in Washington, D.C.  One of the Plaintiffs, who resides in the condominium, owns only an electric vehicle, but the condominium parking garage does not have any EVSE.  Despite repeated requests, the Chase Point Unit Owners’ Association (“Association”) has not permitted her to install (at her expense) EVSE in one of the two parking spaces that are in her control in the condominium parking garage.  As more than eighteen months passed with the condominium association failing to act on her requests – during which time, she was unable to use her parking spaces – Schulman Bhattacharya brought suit in the Superior Court against the Association, its President, and the Chair of its Mechanical Systems Committee.  The lawsuit sought, among other relief, a declaratory judgment that she be permitted to install EVSE. 

In denying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss as to the request for declaratory judgment, Judge Pasichow found that a material dispute exists as to the meaning of the language in the Chase Point Condominium Declaration as well as Plaintiffs’ common law and statutory rights.  In making that determination, Judge Pasichow noted Plaintiffs’ claim that the standard for “normal occupancy” of a residence “is a flexible standard that changes over time, so Plaintiffs are not barred from making the argument that the ability to install EVSE is included in that definition.” 

Judge Pasichow denied the Motion to Dismiss as to Plaintiffs’ claims that the President and Chair of the Mechanical Systems Committee breached their fiduciary duties, agreeing with Plaintiffs that the request to install EVSE “is one of interpretation of the Association’s Declaration and not one made as a business decision on behalf of the Association.”  Judge Pasichow also found Plaintiffs had stated a plausible claim for breach of contract and that Plaintiffs’ claims as to violation of D.C. Code § 42-19.2.09(a), intentional interference with property, and inspection of books and records, should proceed as well.

A copy of the Order Denying Defendants’ Opposed Motion to Dismiss the Complaint can be found here.