What is the WLOA?
WLOA stands for the Westwood Landowner’s Association. The association’s board makes decisions about amenities and other regulatory decisions in Magnolia, Texas. The Westwood Landowner’s Association was recently involved in a lawsuit over the election of its board members, and the settlement ordered the association to change and follow its voting procedures.
The Lawsuit against the Westwood Landowner’s Association (WLOA)
A lawsuit was brought against the Landowner’s Association because board members were accused of engaging in unethical and even illegal activities. The majority of criticism targeted Emmitt Hippler after allegations stated two members of the board of directors were all but forced out of their positions.
The plaintiffs stated the following actions occurred at the annual meeting in 2010:
· proxy counters were handpicked by Emmitt Hippler
· the counting of the stacks was never cross checked which allowed for Chicago style ballot box stuffing
· the counting was hurried and Hippler quickly accepted the court
· the opposing candidate objected the vote, but Hippler would not allow for verification of the count
· the opposing candidates hired an attorney, and Emmitt Hippler stated he would only allow a review by one proxy
A group of concerned residents in Westwood came together and found other problems during the review by the proxy. The residents found the following problems:
· there were duplicates, and Hippler received duplicates from his supporters by having husband and wives sign proxies
· residents were told by Emmitt Hippler that the second proxy was for the water board
· residents and businesses were threatened if they didn’t vote for Emmitt Hippler
· business were threatened that they would receive a loss of business from Westwood if they didn’t sign a proxy for Hippler
· several driveways were blocked until residents signed the proxy for Hippler
· proxies were missing from opposing candidates, including 12 lots from a business that Hippler refused to leave from until they signed the proxy
· Hippler took the proxies home with him at night
· Hippler denied access to the ballots after discrepancies were found between numbers posted in a WLOA news letter and numbers reviewed by opposing candidates
Further Action against the WLOA Board
After the concerned residents hired a second attorney, they were told that the current board was in direct violation of several state laws on land owner associations. With pressure from the attorneys, the board finally turned over the ballots for review. After all the duplicates were removed, the current board was found to have actually lost the election.
The settlement occurred on April 2, 2012. The District Court in Montgomery ordered that the board had to change their bylaws to meet requirements passed by the 2011 Texas Legislature and rules under Chapter 209 of the Texas Property Code. Additionally, the board of directors is not allowed to make any recommendations about who should serve on the board.
WLOA was required to post the settlement conditions on their website, and the settlement is still posted on the website: