BOCA VIEW BOARD LOST AGAIN --
THIS TIME IN FEDERAL COURT
FEDERAL JUDGE PUNISHES BOARD AND THEIR ATTORNEYS FOR FILING FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT
An Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published October 14, 2023
Many of us wondered how a simple record request for condo association financial records can end up in Federal Court when attorney John R. Sheppard from the law firm Fowler White Burnett, P.A. filed a complaint on May 24, 2023 in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida (CASE No. 23-cv-80820-RLR).
But already on June 30, 2023, Sheppard filed a Motion To Withdraw as Attorney for the Boca View Condominium Association, Inc., after Defendant's attorneys threatened with Rule 11 sanctions: "Defendants accuse Plaintiff and its counsel of choosing to "continue prosecuting factually and legally frivolous claims in this matter purely for purposes of acting as vexatious litigants and to cause the Defendants to incur unnecessary attorney’s fees to defend against the Plaintiff’s baseless claims."
It looks like John R. Sheppard realized the meaning of the warning and withdrew.
But obviously the two attorneys, Alexandra Sierra De Varona, Esq. and Mayelin Teresa Rodriguez, Esq. from the De Varona Law Firm (NOTICE OF APPEARANCE), must have missed the lectures of their professors at law school about RULE 11 -- and they are now paying the -- very costly -- price.
In a lengthy, very detailed, ruling (ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ RULE 11 MOTION FOR SANCTIONS [DE 26]), United States Magistrate Judge William Matthewman explained why he is imposing Rule 11 sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorneys.
In my opinion this is another learning process for attorneys willing to file -- and continue lengthy court proceedings without looking into the legal remedies of filing complaints that are frivolous, vexatious, and without factual or legal support.
In his conclusion United States Magistrate Judge William Matthewman explains in detail the sanctions he is imposing on Plaintiff and its Counsel.
Still open is the decision of the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals, which appeal remains pending; and the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion for a stay.
The big question remains: WILL THIS EVER END? The plaintiffs, BOCA VIEW CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., suffered defeat after defeat in arbitration and various courts. And when will the owners finally see the financial records?
Make no mistake: All this litigation has cost the association hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and quite a few different lawsuits are still pending. Who will finally pay for all these costs, considering that this is small condominium with only 72 units?
In my opinion, the board members, who caused all this litigation by plainly ignoring the provisions of the Florida Statutes, should be personally liable. Or are all the owners stuck with paying these huge legal fees?