a Trade Organization of sore losers?
By Jan Bergemann - 4-15-2000
|It seems to be totally acceptable for
CAI members to call homeowners, who dare to contradict the party line,
names like disgruntled, anti HOA-anarchists or Pink Flamingo Radicals.
This could be considered libel, especially when used with other false statements
as often is the case.
But there are as well opinions, protected
by the 1. Amendment.
Since years members of the Community Association Institute are telling unhappy homeowners living in mandated properties that the easiest way to fix complaints is to oust the board and replace it with members of their choice.
Homeowners trying to get legislative changes and enforcement of existing laws are met with the argument : Make the changes in your community and replace the board members you're unhappy with. More and more homeowners all over the nation are trying to follow this advice only to run into heavy legal problems, created by attorneys, who are CAI members, often backed by attorneys paid for by CHUBB Insurance, defending the ousted board members.
In a recent case in Orlando a big majority
of homeowners ousted the existing board. The first act of the new board
was to fire the HOA attorney, a member of the law firm of Wean & Malchow,
P.A., a well known CAI member. Paul Wean is the Vice Chairman of the CAI
Florida Legislative Alliance, who just recently instructed FLA’s lobbyists
to defeat all homeowner friendly bills - please see article :
Even after the first serious defeat in
court, where the judge stated that (quote) :“This Court further finds
that the expense to the Association which has been generated by the Board
of Directors which has been ousted is an unnecessary, defiant expense,
raising non justifiable issues of fact and law that created additional
expense for the homeowners association” , he wouldn't give up. An appeal
to the Appellate Court (5th District Court of Appeals) has been initiated
by James Olson, attorney of the Wean & Malchow firm. This appeal puts
on hold another law-suit against the ousted board for reimbursement of
funds. The ousted board is in this case represented by attorney Mark Ruff,
paid for by CHUBB Insurance. And believe it or not, the same insurance
company, occurring more legal fees for the association members, is asking
for their premiums to be paid by the new board. In the meanwhile the association
received as well a bill from Wean & Malchow for more than $ 20.000.00
in legal fees, despite the fact that the attorney stated to the judge that
he is representing the old board for free, according to my information.
Despite the fact that the CAI members always
claimed that getting rid off unwanted board members by Special Elections
is the easiest way to solve these kind of problems, it seems it is definitely
the most profitable for CAI lawyers.
The industry partisans always claimed to legislators that the Status Quo should be preserved since homeowners have it in their own hands to make changes in their favor, without needing a supervising agency for these kind of problems. But even the decision of a huge majority of homeowners will not be accepted by these CAI members, if they are losing their jobs over it! Isn't it suspicious that in all these cases the CAI law firms immediately lost their retainer in these associations? May be the rage of the homeowners ousting the former boards where not so much directed against the former board members but the lawyers advising them?
Seeing all these cases develop raises the obvious question : are the CAI lawyers using these legal challenges as a final money-making pay-off to squeeze more money out of the homeowners for a last time or are they just a bunch of sore losers?
|Go to the CAI WebPages to see their goals and intentions. Already their banner below - please read the inscription - is in my opinion a clear misrepresentation. May be the organization should replace the words "The nation's voice" with "The tradespeoples' voice"! They would definitely come much closer to the truth. They definitely don't represent the interests of the private homeowner! It's actually the only case I know, that the trade organization is claiming to represent as well the interests of the consumer. Isn't that already a conflict of interest by itself?|