What protects an individual homeowner from a catastrophic judgment against her community association?
There’s a lot of media and blog space being devoted to the question of whether the homeowners in the community where Trayvon Martin was killed could end up personally responsible for a judgment obtained against their association and perhaps lose their homes as a result. This tragedy could certainly result in a lawsuit brought against the association by Martin’s family. If it were, it could be based in part on the fact that the homeowner’s association authorized the “neighborhood watch” program which included the work of George Zimmerman, Martin’s alleged assailant. A verdict of negligent supervision resulting in wrongful death could produce a judgment against the association. Notwithstanding all of the publicity and national attention, the damages in the case, assuming a finding of liability against the association, would likely be an award of general damages—a punitive damage award against the association is unlikely on these facts. But any damages award of a substantial amount against the association could create concern among owners about their own potential responsibility. Are the individual owners exposed to personal liability in that or similar scenarios?