(a) A member of an association may bring a civil action for declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of this article by the association, including, but not limited to, injunctive relief, restitution, or a combination thereof, within one year of the date that the inspector or inspectors of elections notifies the board and membership of the election results or the cause of action accrues, whichever is later. If a member establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the election procedures of this article, or the adoption of and adherence to rules provided by Article 5 (commencing with Section 4340) of Chapter 3, were not followed, a court shall void any results of the election unless the association establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the association’s noncompliance with this article or the election operating rules did not affect the results of the election. The findings of the court shall be stated in writing as part of the record.
(b) A member who prevails in a civil action to enforce the member’s rights pursuant to this article shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs, and the court may impose a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation, except that each identical violation shall be subject to only one penalty if the violation affects each member of the association equally. A prevailing association shall not recover any costs, unless the court finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation. If a member prevails in a civil action brought in small claims court, the member shall be awarded court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred for consulting an attorney in connection with this civil action.
(c) A cause of action under subdivision (a) may be brought in either the superior court or, if the amount of the demand does not exceed the jurisdictional amount of the small claims court, in small claims court.
(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 848, Sec. 6. (SB 323) Effective January 1, 2020.)