Article Courtesy of The
By Martin E. Comas
Published July 30, 2019
When Evelyn Wilson moved into her gated community in south Lake County more than
13 years ago, the cable reception on her TV was so fuzzy it was unwatchable, and
the home alarm system didn’t work.
“We would try talking
on the telephone, it was crackling or nothing,” said Wilson,
who is now Groveland’s mayor. “It was the worst, because
nothing worked properly.”
Such frustrations and similar ones experienced by other
residents spawned a years-long legal saga involving the
homeowners association for what is now called Trilogy
Orlando, a 55-and-over community, and the company hired to
provide the cable, internet and telephone services.
In June, the stakes escalated when a judge agreed with a
$4.1 million jury award to the company at the heart of the
discord. That prompted the homeowners association to quickly
declare bankruptcy, but the tactic may not save residents
from being on the hook for their share of the judgment.
Now, residents are left wondering how the convoluted dispute
— which began under a previous developer and an earlier
homeowners association — got to this point and how it will
The problems arose in 2006 when what was originally called
Cascades at Groveland opened south of U.S. Highway 27 off
Wilson Lake Parkway, about 30 miles west of Orlando.
According to court records, the homeowners group entered
into a 10-year agreement with PC Services — originally
called Groveland Services — to deliver internet, cable
television, telephone and alarm services via fiber optic
cables to houses.
Front entrance photographed Thursday, July 25, 2019,
of the Trilogy Orlando community in Groveland.
But residents soon started lodging complaints about the shoddy cable, internet
and phone service with the homeowners association soon after moving into their
“It was horrific,” said resident Vincent Santanelli, in recalling when he moved
Although the problems with the cable, internet and telephone services have long
since been fixed, the homeowners’ nightmare may still not be over because of the
ongoing legal maneuvering.
Residents — caught in the middle of the dispute — could soon end up paying
thousands of dollars per home after a South Florida judge agreed last month with
the jury award to PC Services LLC after a civil lawsuit filed by the company
claimed the original homeowners association improperly canceled the contract
with the Miami-based PC Services in 2007.
To prevent PC Services from quickly collecting on the judgment and placing liens
on Trilogy homes, the current homeowners association board filed for bankruptcy
in June. Retaining the development’s original name, the Cascades at Groveland
Homeowners’ Association Inc. also has since filed a notice that it will appeal
How much each Trilogy homeowner may have to pay to settle the suit is unclear
and likely will be hashed out during mediation between representatives from the
homeowners association and PC Services scheduled to take place in the coming
Members of the current homeowners association board didn’t want to comment
publicly regarding the lawsuit, which was filed in 2012.
But Mario Bustamante, CEO of PC Services, said his company and a contractor
installed more than $1.3 million worth of fiber-optic cable and made repairs
throughout the community as it was being developed by home builder Levitt and
Sons, even though faulty wiring was installed in the homes, which caused the
problems. And his company and contractors were never paid for their work, he
“I spent all this money to fix stuff that wasn’t even our fault,” Bustamante
said. “I feel bad because a lot of people [in Trilogy] did not know that this
lawsuit was going on and are now going to have to pay.”
The earlier homeowners association, which was controlled by Levitt
representatives, terminated its contract with PC Services in 2007 because it
claimed the company didn’t deliver what it promised and residents were
complaining about bad service, according to court records.
Levitt representatives controlled the homeowners association board at the time
because only about 200 homes of the planned 999-home development on 752 acres
were completed at the time.
Months later, Levitt walked away from the Cascades development when it declared
bankruptcy in November 2007 after finishing 238 homes, nearly a quarter of the
total homes planned.
Bank of America eventually took title of the property and Shea Homes, based in
Walnut, Calif., purchased the property in 2010. The development has since been
annexed into Groveland. Current plans show the final development will have 1,145
homes by 2021. Shea has already constructed and sold 774 homes. There are
currently 133 lots for available for homes to built. New homes range from the
$230s to the $340s.
The current homeowners association board is now controlled by Trilogy residents.
“Neither the current Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors nor Shea Homes
had anything to do with the dispute that led to this lawsuit" and resulting
judgment, Shea Homes said in a written statement. “It was the sole result of
decisions made by the original and now defunct developer more than a decade
ago.....Shea Homes also continues to disclose and provide up to date information
about the lawsuit to homeowners and prospective buyers.”
As part of the deal with PC Services, the earlier homeowners association was to
provide an enclosed air-conditioned space at least 12 feet by 12 feet to
accommodate a “headend,” according to court records. A headend is a facility
that takes input — such as television signals — from satellites and other
sources and then processes the information into a format to deliver to customers
in homes, offices and other networks.
Without the headend, PC Services claimed that it couldn’t provide services.
In January 2006, PC Services — or Groveland LLC — installed $300,000 worth of
headend equipment on its own because residents were beginning to move in and
demanding service, according to court records and Bustamante.
“When we went up there in January , I was shocked to see there was no
place [for the headend],” said Bustamante, explaining why his company decided to
install it. “I said: ‘Guys, where am I going to put all this stuff?’”
Bustamante added that the wiring within the new homes was faulty and not
compatible with fiber optic.
“We were putting in optic fiber because it was the latest and greatest. It’s the
best there is,” he said. “But the houses had to be wired a certain way. But all
the houses were really messed up. The rollout of the service was a complete
disaster.…. There was no coordination [with the homeowners association].”
Bustamante said he brought it to the homeowners association board’s attention,
and court records show that PC Services officials met with the group’s
“They said to me: ‘You have to help us out,’” Bustamante said. “I told them:
‘I’ll do the best I can.’”
He said his company spent about $92,000 on most of the homes. Soon afterward,
the homeowners association fired Bustamante’s company.
Wilson said she ended up becoming so frustrated at the time from the lack of
service for her television, internet, phone and alarm that she hired private
companies — including a satellite dish service, a phone company and a home alarm
company — on her own.
“Eventually we bit the bullet and spent extra,” said Wilson, who served four
years on the Groveland council in two stints prior to her election as mayor in
Eventually, Bright House Networks — now Spectrum — was hired to replace all the
fiber-optic cables and wiring in the community and correct the problem.
Like many residents, Wilson said she didn’t hear about the lawsuit “until about
five months ago” and is concerned about a future assessment to pay off the
“It’s a significant amount of money, and when the time comes to pay, I’ll have
to figure out what to do,” she said.
Another Trilogy resident, Santanelli, called it “a sad state of affairs” and
that he doesn’t understand why the current community must now pay for the “just
horrible” service from years ago.
“It’s just beyond me,” he said. “I’m having a hard time understanding it.”
However, Mike Smith, who moved to Trilogy 2015, said the current homeowners
association board may have handled it differently today and avoided a lawsuit.
“I don’t think there was a good solution at the end of the day,” said Smith, who
was elected to the Groveland City Council in 2017. “I’ll be happy once it’s
over. But I still would’ve bought here if I had known about the lawsuit. Because
it’s a great community.”