Beacon Towers Condo. Trust v. AlexAnnotate this Case
After a fire broke out at the Beacon Towers Condominium, the board of trustees for the Beacon Towers Condominium Trust, the unit owners’ organization for the condominium, assessed George Alex $62,995 for the two units that he owned. Alex commenced an arbitration action challenging the propriety of the trustees’ conduct regarding the fire damage repairs and the imposition of the assessment. The arbitration panel found in favor of Alex. Although the panel recognized that the arbitration agreement in the trust’s bylaw did not provide for an award of fees, the panel nonetheless awarded fees, reasoning that the American Arbitration Association allowed an award of fees where “substantially all of the defenses were wholly insubstantial, frivolous and not advanced in good faith.” The trust filed suit, claiming that the arbitrators’ award of attorney’s fees exceeded the scope of the parties’ arbitration agreement. A superior court judge vacated the award of attorney’s fees, concluding that such an award was not authorized by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, 6F when ordered by an arbitrator because section 6F does not authorize an arbitrator to award attorney’s fees. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that an arbitrator lacks the authority to award attorney’s fees under the circumstances of this case.