Copperfield Villas Ass'n v. Tuer, 356494

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
PartiesCOPPERFIELD VILLAS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BARRY TUER, JR., and ALLISON TUER, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket Number356494
Decision Date23 June 2022


BARRY TUER, JR., and ALLISON TUER, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 356494

Court of Appeals of Michigan

June 23, 2022


Livingston Circuit Court LC No. 18-030122-CH

Before: Gleicher, C.J., and Sawyer and Garrett, JJ.


In this condominium bylaw enforcement action, the Copperfield Villas Association (CVA) alleged bylaw violations by Barry and Allison Tuer, owners of one of the association's condominiums. The parties reached a stipulated agreement settling the substantive claims but could not agree regarding the amount of attorney fees owed. The trial court determined that the association was entitled to $8,000 in attorney fees and costs. On appeal, the CVA challenges only the award of fees and costs. Because the trial court erred by limiting the association's award to attorney fees incurred before its first appeal, we reverse and remand for the trial court to determine the reasonable amount of attorney fees owed to the CVA for the entirety of the proceedings.


This is the second time that this case has come before this Court. See Copperfield Villas Ass'n v Tuer, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued May 21, 2020 (Docket No. 348518). In our previous decision, we described the allegations raised in the CVA's lawsuit:

Barry and Allison Tuer own a home in the Copperfield Villas site condominium development. The Tuers completed construction and moved into their home in early 2014. The CVA alleges that the Tuers violated the association Bylaws on multiple occasions over the years by failing to weed and maintain the lawn, parking their vehicles on the lawn placing stones or gravel and a wooden curb on a common area and without prior approval constructing a fenced-in dog kennel, expanding their driveway, and installing a parking lot. [Id. at 1.]

During the initial trial court proceedings, the court granted summary disposition in favor of the Tuers and dismissed the CVA's complaint, concluding that the CVA had failed to obtain approval of a majority of the condominium co-owners before filing its bylaw enforcement lawsuit. Id. at 6-7. The CVA appealed, and we reversed and remanded for further proceedings, noting that on remand the CVA could request attorney fees and costs under the Bylaws. Id. at 7 n 3.

On remand, the parties reached a settlement agreement in which the Tuers agreed to cure most of the alleged bylaw violations, but the parties disputed the amount of attorney fees and costs that the Tuers should pay CVA. The trial court indicated that it would award $8,000, which represented the fees incurred only up to the time of the first appeal. The trial court reasoned that the association did not need to pursue the first appeal, and therefore the Tuers should not be required to pay any subsequent legal fees incurred by the CVA:

[U]sing all this, what I believed in the attorney fee calculation was that the defendant did not have to pay attorney fees after the point which they agreed with defendant [sic] on some of those issues that they took forward. So once the defendant said I give [up] on these issues, there was no reason they have to keep going on those issues up to the . . . higher court, and the defendant need not have been charged for the cost incurred on litigating those issues.
* * *
[I]f the Court of Appeals looks at this, the real issue was . . . from the point at which the defendant said you're right, I give [up], on these issues, there was no need to go forward on it, so to those issues, I'm not going to award . . . attorney fees. [Emphasis added.]

The trial court's award was far below that sought by the CVA, which amounted to more than $20,000, because it did not include fees incurred during the first appeal or any proceedings afterwards. The CVA now appeals, arguing that the trial court erroneously prohibited it from recovering attorney fees incurred during all of the proceedings.


We review an award of attorney fees for an abuse of discretion. Reed v Reed, 265 Mich.App. 131, 164; 693 N.W.2d 825 (2005). An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court's decision falls "outside the range of principled outcomes." Edry v Adelman, 486 Mich. 634, 639; 786 N.W.2d 567 (2010). "Condominium bylaws are interpreted according to the rules governing the interpretation of a contract." Tuscany Grove Ass'n v Peraino, 311 Mich.App. 389, 393; 875 N.W.2d 234 (2015). Questions involving contract interpretation, as well as statutory interpretation, are reviewed de novo. Id. "De novo review means that we review the legal issue independently" and without deference to the trial court. Wright v Genesee Co, 504 Mich. 410, 417; 934 N.W.2d 805 (2019).



CVA argues that the trial court erred by ruling that it could recover attorney fees only for those proceedings that occurred before the first appeal.[1]

This case involves the proper interpretation of the Condominium Act, MCL 559.101 et seq., and the CVA's Bylaws. "When interpreting a statute, we must ascertain the Legislature's intent," which is accomplished "by giving the words selected by the Legislature their plain and ordinary meanings, and by enforcing the statute as written." Griffin v Griffin, 323 Mich.App. 110, 120; 916 N.W.2d 292 (2018) (quotation marks and citation omitted). If a statute is unambiguous, it must be applied as plainly written. McQueer v Perfect Fence Co, 502 Mich. 276, 286; 971 N.W.2d 584 (2018). Similarly, the words of condominium bylaws "are interpreted according to their plain and ordinary meaning," giving effect to "every...

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