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Subject: HOA Lawsuit questions
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Author Messages
HectorR
(Florida)

Posts:71


08/11/2021 7:37 PM  
Hello everyone, our HOA was facing a law suit by the previous management company for breach of contract. I just found out today the our HOA lost the law suit. Is there a way I can find out what the settlement was? Is this public record?
Can I request to inspect the records and ask for a copy of the settlement agreement?
Can we face a possible assessment?
Thank you all for your time, have a great day.
CarissaM


Posts:0


08/12/2021 6:35 AM  
How did you find out you lost?

Who is your HOA agent of record? They will receive a copy of the documents you are seeking. If you do not know, you may search your HOA on the Sunbiz website to obtain your Agent of Record.

Depending on the cost of settlement, you might have a special assessment if the cost of the settlement exceeds the contingent funds in your association.

It really depends on a lot of things. Are you on the HOA Board or a concerned homeowner?

___________________________________________________________

This is an excerpt from a Quicken Loans article referencing a Tampa Attorney from 2012:

Lawsuits are expensive for everyone. In 2012, a Tampa, Florida judge awarded homeowners damages plus costs in a lawsuit they’d brought against their HOA. The lawsuit arose out of a special assessment of $2,212 the couple were charged for lawn care. The lawsuit went on for 12 years and finally settled in the homeowners’ favor. The homeowners spent $222,000 on litigation – most of which the HOA was forced to reimburse – costing other homeowners within the complex an extra payment of $600 per month over 5 years.


While this is an extreme example of an HOA run amok and homeowners with the financial resources to prove a point, it also teaches a lesson about how expensive legal action is and how it can get out of hand.

_____________________________________________________________

I shared that to show that it's possible you will be footing the bill for the settlement equally among owners.
LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:54


08/12/2021 6:59 AM  
I just want to add that you will probably be able to find out how much the judgment was against the HOA (if there was one) but you may never find out all the hidden costs. For example, our HOA pursued a lawsuit against a homeowner for an unauthorized architectural change. It never even got to the lawsuit because in Florida you must go into mediation before a lawsuit can be filed and this matter was resolved in mediation. But the attorney bill was incredibly high to even get to mediation and the cost of the mediation was considered a claim against our D&O insurance, so our insurance premium went up. That's before the cost of the expenses for the work that was agreed upon in mediation.

We're very transparent with our budgets in our HOA, but until I was on the board I would have never been able to put the entire cost together.
AugustinD


Posts:1937


08/12/2021 7:20 AM  
Posted By HectorR on 08/11/2021 7:37 PM
Hello everyone, our HOA was facing a law suit by the previous management company for breach of contract. I just found out today the our HOA lost the law suit. Is there a way I can find out what the settlement was? Is this public record? Can I request to inspect the records and ask for a copy of the settlement agreement? Can we face a possible assessment?
HectorR, you previously gave clues about the name of your FS 720 Florida HOA (townhomes) and where it is located. I went to the County-Clerk of the Courts and used its search engine for lawsuits. See https://www2.miami-dadeclerk.com/ocs/ , and use "Standard Search." Put in just the first two words of your HOA's name and nothing else.

Only one lawsuit comes up that seems to be other than foreclosure, from 2009. The lawsuit names both the HOA and the US Postal Service as Defendants. The Plaintiff looks like a realtor? Click on the "I" at the far left of this lawsuit. More information comes up. Click on the "Dockets" section (far right of the Dockets section) for a bit more information. It is a small claims lawsuit, for $5000. Then again, this might not be the lawsuit you have in mind.

Alternatively you can visit County Clerk of the Courts yourself and see if they will assist you.

If the lawsuit was settled, then what is at the County Clerk of the Courts will not give details of the settlement.

If the lawsuit was lost on either motion or after trial, then some details might be available.

I am not sure whether the settlement is a record to which you are entitled. From a review of FS 720, I think someone who wanted to see any settlement ought to state the settlement falls under FS 720.303 (4) (L) "All other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association," and then make the request to review the settlement.

A Special Assessment is certainly possible. It's also possible the HOA's insurer paid the settlement, with the "only" effect being a possible increase in premiums.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4297


08/12/2021 8:12 AM  
All good advice here - I really like CarissaM's quote from the Quicken Loans article. People often talking about suing the HOA, the Board, both or something or someone else, but when it comes to lawsuits, I always say you can sue over anything, but it doesn't guarantee you'll win or even collect your judgment (which is why you usually sue in the first place.) It's not that you can't or shouldn't sue, but it's a good idea to do everything you can to resolve the problem before you go that route.

In this case, I'd rally my neighbors together (something I think you've been advised to do more than once) and demand answers of the board. The association got sued for breach of contract - how did that even happen? Did anyone read the contract or consult with the association attorney to ensure they were following the terms or did they just shut the thing down for whatever reason? Did the board discuss any concerns it had with the property manager and give it a chance to fix the problem before canceling the contract? If not, why not? How long has this been going on - people usually don't cancel a contract on a whim.

Ideally, the board would have let the community know it was working with the property manager on addressing certain performance issues before it came to this point, perhaps asking people to let them know of examples of poor communication or whatever with the manager. That may have been used as evidence in the case and perhaps the association would have won.

As for how much this will cost homeowners - that remains to be seen, but ultimately, be prepared to pay because homeowners always foot the bill in the end. You either pay higher assessments because of increased costs, such as higher insurance premiums, or a special assessment and perhaps both, depending on the judgment. The board members have to pay it too because they're also homeowners, but that doesn't mean they should remain on the board - this may be grounds for voting them out in the next election or calling a special homeowners meeting to recall them.

However that ends, you probably need a new property manager, so this is a good time to consider what you need, how and why the relationship with the previous manager went sideways, and how to avoid all that next time.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:786


08/12/2021 10:53 AM  
Hector, following Augustine's post I believe the first thing you must do is find out when this suit took place and when the matter was closed.

If it is the 2009 matter, I cannot see any good reason for digging through something which occurred 12 years ago. Those presently serving on your board may have no knowledge of what took place.

If this is more or less a current situation, I suggest you follow Sheila's advice.
AugustinD


Posts:1937


08/12/2021 11:13 AM  
Posted By BillH10 on 08/12/2021 10:53 AM

If it is the 2009 matter, I cannot see any good reason for digging through something which occurred 12 years ago. Those presently serving on your board may have no knowledge of what took place.
For the record, my quick check on this is far from complete. The Court Clerk's site does not assure that it has all lawsuits listed on it. I am not even sure the 2009 lawsuit was brought by a property manager.
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