HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION NOT LIABLE FOR BOAT WRECK

Because we have represented a number of homeowner’s associations over the years, we noted with interest the recent decision by the Mississippi Court of Appeals rejecting an attempt to hold a homeowner’s association liable for a boating accident. The case itself involves the Lake Caroline Owners Association (“LCOA”) and its 800 acre lake. The underlying accident occurred on a summer evening after sunset in 2011. Two couples were enjoying themselves on a pontoon boat that was anchored in the middle of the lake. Another boat was apparently speeding across the water when it took a hard turn and crashed into the pontoon boat causing injuries to two of the people on the boat. The two injured people not only sued the operator of the speeding boat, but also the LCOA. The legal theory asserted was that the LCOA failed to maintain a safe lake. In response to the lawsuit, the LCOA filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it did not have any reason to anticipate the boating accident, and thus owed no duty to the plaintiffs. In an attempt to defeat summary judgment, the plaintiffs presented an affidavit by a boating safety expert who claimed that the accident was reasonably foreseeable because there had been a previous boating accident in 2005. The plaintiffs also presented nonspecific affidavit testimony that other boats had been seen traveling at a high speed in the past.  Based on these affidavits the plaintiffs claimed that the existence of dangerous boat drivers was a known problem on the lake, and that this problem should have been addressed by better rules and a safety...