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Exam Question for Torts Section

Mar Vista is a residential development. In January, 2006 the Mar Vista Homeowners Association (“MVHA”)” assessed each home owner an assessment charge of $750. Charlotte, a recent widow who was experiencing financial problems, claimed she couldn’t afford to pay the $750. As a result, Thomas Newman, president of MHA, sent to Charlotte a letter that included this language:

“By failing to make this payment, the MHA shall have the right to collect the amount due by action of law. Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.”

After three weeks with no response, Newman sent to Charlotte a letter that stated:

“Before instituting legal action, this is MHA’s final demand for your $750 assessment charge. It is unfortunate that deadbeats like you ruin our community.”

A copy of this letter was mailed to the twenty-eight other residents of Mar Vista. Newman also sent a copy of the letter to the editor of The Plains Press, the county newspaper, that had a circulation of 20,000 subscribers. In its next edition, the Press published Newman’s letter on its editorial page.

You are a private attorney in the area. Charlotte visits you in your office and asks you to write an Opinion Letter that describes any potential legal redress that might be available to her, and which also addresses any defenses that Newman and the MHA may have. Please do so.

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