BOCA RATON — The Boca View Condominium
Association refused to allow an owner’s lawyer to inspect
association records and now it's paying a hefty price —
owners' legal fees totaling $232,170.
Despite a judge and a state arbitrator ruling that Boca View
violated state law by denying access to the records, the
condo association refuses to give up the legal battle that
began more than four years ago:
- The association has appealed the
state court ruling.
- It filed a separate lawsuit in
federal court to overturn the state court ruling.
- It has also filed a motion for a
rehearing in October, exposing itself to having to pay
even more legal fees.
Circuit Judge Carolyn
Bell, who inherited the case from retired Judge John
Kastrenakes, ruled July 5 that the condo owner who sought to
review the records was entitled to $194,875 in legal fees
and $31,904 in costs.
Bell said Boca View must pay interest on the award for each
day that lapses between her order and the payment. Boca View
has refused to make any payments while the appeals are
pending, and it continues to deny access to the records.
Boca View could face a contempt citation if its appeals are
unsuccessful. Lawyers for the condo owner have accused the
association of “thumbing its noses” at rulings of the court.
That could result in more fines.
There were more than 400 case documents filed with the
court on Boca View
Boca View is a 72-unit condo complex off Spanish River Road
at the intersection of Camino Real in Boca Raton. It was
built in 1972. The units are housed in a four-story
Boca View Condo Association is in the middle of a
number of costly lawsuits. A judge recently ordered it to pay more
than $200,000 to an owner for legal fees. Her lawyer was denied
access to association records."
Bell said lawyers for the condo owners
expended an “enormous amount of time” on the case in the
form of more than 400 case documents filed with the court.
Bell said it was a result of various strategies taken by
Boca View lawyers, adding: “Many issues that should have
been relatively straightforward were made quite difficult
and required skill, time, and effort for an effective
Kastrenakes upheld the arbitrator’s decision in December
just before his retirement. He said state law clearly allows
either condo owners or their representatives to inspect
association records. Boca View said only the owner of the
condo, Eleanor Lepsulter, could examine the records. The
judge ruled that the association violated state law by
denying access to her lawyer.
Boca View argued that Lepsulter was acting on behalf of
someone else, but Kastrenakes ruled that “motivation” was
irrelevant, noting: “Her simple desire to have an authorized
representative inspect and copy association records for her
is, in and of itself, a proper purpose for a request to
inspect association records.”
desire to have an authorized representative
inspect and copy association records for her is,
in and of itself, a proper purpose for a request
to inspect association records."
Andrew Schwartz, a lawyer representing
Lepsulter, said he is pleased with the court’s rulings and
expects to be successful on appeal. Repeated efforts to
obtain comment from Boca View lawyers were unsuccessful.
The amount of funds expended by Boca View
to deny Lepsulter access to association records has not been
made public, but it is expected to be equal to or more than
the $232,170 awarded to Lepsulter’s lawyers.
Did the Boca View condo association
refuse to allow an owner to rent to a nurse?
Boca View is in the midst of another legal battle; this one
with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The agency is investigating a complaint that Boca View
refused to allow an owner to rent to a nurse because it was
fearful that the nurse would spread the coronavirus.
Boca View refused for more than a year to allow the federal
agency to subpoena records or interview board members and
management employees. HUD had to file a lawsuit.
Last month, it worked out an agreement with Boca View but
not before HUD threatened the association with sanctions. A
federal judge ruled that HUD was within its rights to obtain
records it needed for its investigation.
Boca View claims it barred all rentals during the height of
COVID, and that the denial of the lease had nothing to do
with the tenant being a nurse. Nonetheless, it fought for
more than year efforts by HUD to obtain records it sought.
Boca View, located near the intracoastal off Camino
Real in Boca Raton, is in the midst of another legal battle. The
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency is
investigating a complaint that Boca View refused to allow an owner
to rent to a nurse because it was fearful that the nurse would
spread the coronavirus."