An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published January 12, 2016


Homeowners of the Harbor Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. could celebrate a great victory against the developer of their community.


In a case that actually started January 19, 2005, the 5th DCA upheld a JURY VERDICT of the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, in and for Lake County, Florida. Many attempts of the homeowners trying to find reasonable solutions without filing expensive lawsuits had failed over the years, leaving the owners with only one option: Seeking justice in court.


In the court case of Larry Bell and Esther Line on behalf of Harbor Hills Homeowners Association, Inc. as Plaintiffs vs Harbor Hills Development, L.P. and Michael Rich, Adam Rich, Lu Ann Miller, Steve Henne, Van Albanese, Ed Frayer and Michelle Pinder as Defendants filed in the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit in and for Lake County the homeowners prevailed in a whopping victory and finally forced the developer to pay its fair share of the cost.


The judgments against the Developer and its President, Michael Rich were affirmed in total by the 5th DCA on November 10, 2015.  The Developer had to pay $701,793.78 and Michael Rich had to pay $2,628 to the Homeowners’ Association for Breach of Fiduciary Duty.  The Plaintiffs were also awarded attorney’s fees.  The case is of utmost importance because it is requiring developers to pay their pro-rata share of assessments.  In other words, all owners of property, Developer and non-developers, should be treated fairly and equally.   PAY ATTENTION DEVELOPERS!


The actual case was best summarized in the PLAINTIFF’S ANSWER BRIEF to the 5th DCA. Please read pages 1 – 9 of the Brief to better understand what this case was all about.


It seems the times where developers were able to burden the whole cost of maintaining the community is over. No more sneaky ways to make the homeowners who already bought into the development pay the full burden of the cost.


Thanks to the efforts of Larry Bell and Esther Line and their attorney Ric Keller from the law firm of Hill, Rugh, Keller & Main, former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, homeowners’ association members living in communities still under developer control now have sufficient case law to prevent developers from not paying their pro-rata share of assessments.