FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CASE: SUSAN COHN
V. THE GRAND CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION
Will legislation that impairs the contract rights of any one party be allowed to be added retroactively?
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published February 19, 2011
It seems that legislative changes to the Florida Community Association Statutes are only valid in the eyes of the commercial owners if they favor their own cause. Otherwise: Let's sue!
issue at stake in this case: Did
The change in the statutes [FS 718.404(2)] was created by provisions contained in the 2007 bills S902(Senator Jones) and H1373 (Representative Robaina). The changes to the law were caused by many complaints by condo owners in mixed-used condominiums that the commercial owners abuse their majority on the board of directors to use most of the association funds -- even if private owners pay the bulk of the assessments -- to improve their commercial property.
During meetings of the HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONDO GOVERNANCE (2004) and the FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONDOMINIUM & HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION GOVERNANCE (2008) outraged condo owners complained about this abuse of their funds. The Condo Ombudsman received lots of complaints about this issue and forwarded them to the legislators, who finally in 2007 took the necessary action to stop this abuse and create laws to give the actual majority in the building the right to elect a board according to votes cast at the election.
Former State Representative Julio Robaina, who sponsored this provision of the bill in 2007, said when hearing about this lawsuit: "We heard so many complaints from owners that we thought it's high time to file this bill. But as soon as owner-friendly laws are enacted the industry sues."
Despite these many well-known and well-founded complaints, the appellees (the commercial owners) contend that the Statute is unconstitutional because they do not know why it was enacted.
Or do you think that it is good law if the 810 residential unit owners vote for only three (3) of the seven (7) members of The Grand's board of directors, while the Controlling Entities, which own only 400 units, vote for five (5) of the seven (7) members. There is nothing equal about that -- don't you agree?After losing in the lower court and in the Third District Court of Appeals [3D08-3051], the condo owners turned to the Florida Supreme Court for help.
his appearance in front of the Supreme Court attorney Eric Glazer from the
law firm Glazer
& Associates P.A. said:
“In the Woodside case………the
Florida Supreme Court once again held that condominiums are entirely
subject to legislative control. We are hoping that they take the
same position this time.”
WATCH THE ARGUMENTS OF THE THREE ATTORNEYS IN FRONT OF THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT (2-11-2011):
For the Legal Eagles here are the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court by the attorneys on record:
APPELLANT'S INITIAL BRIEF ON THE MERITS
Daniel Rosenbaum, Esq. for Appellee The Grand Condominium Associatiom, Inc.
ANSWER BRIEF OF PH HOTEL AND PH RETAIL
Eric Glazer, Esq. for Appellant Condo Owner Susan Cohn
The ruling of the Florida Supreme Court will have serious impact on future legislation for community associations in general. We will get an answer to the question: Will legislation that impairs contract rights of any one party be allowed to be added retroactively?