Board President found out: He is not untouchable!
Now Faces Small Claims Court Ruling Of $5,255!
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
September 29, 2006
A quote from the initial lawsuit: "THE DEFENDANT RONALD DIETZ, WITH EVIL MOTIVE AND ACTUAL MALICE INTENDED TO CAUSE PLAINTIFF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, AND TO FALSELY DEPICT PLAINTIFF TO BE A THIEF, AND A MAN LACKING GOOD MORAL CHARACTER."
This lawsuit looks like a typical example of an association, where the board president runs the show. According to community members, the board president’s wife is the self-appointed office manager and manages the finances. Every owner who dares to ask to see financial documents will get slammed in the community newsletter, used by the president as his private public relation tool.
The community is the ISLAND CLUB AT CORKSCREW WOODLANDS HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. in Estero. The president's name is Ronald Dietz and the attorney representing the association is Joe Adams from the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff. (See official filing with Division of Corporations)
And -- you may have guessed it -- this association board is a strong supporter of CALL, the lobbying group of Becker & Poliakoff. That actually means some board members are supporting CALL, unlike a lot of the homeowners, who have fought a legal battle against the methods used by the board for many years. From what I have heard and read, this board really needs the "protection" of CALL.
There are fights over amendments, fights over selling common property -- and recently a fight over the audit, demanded by homeowners according to FS 720.303(7). So far no audit, but excuses that owners find unbelievable.Ronald Dietz is obviously a great fan of name-calling, as could have been seen in publications carrying his name. That is, until the former Vice President, Alan Schleifer, was sick and tired of being the target of Dietz's name-calling and insults.
To make it very clear: Alan Schleifer sued Ronald Dietz for libel, not the president of the board or the association as Dietz wanted everybody to believe, hoping that the association would pick up the cost of his defense and even a possible judgment against him. But -- make no mistake -- the lawsuit clearly states: RONALD DIETZ, Defendant -- nothing else.
And it was clearly Ronald Dietz himself, not the association or the association members he claims to represent, who brought this lawsuit upon himself! In a signed settlement agreement Dietz acknowledged his wrongdoing and agreed to write an apology to send to all owners -- past and present. But then Dietz failed to follow up on his agreement, falling short on the apology by just using the community newsletter and claiming -- again -- that the Island Club Homeowners Association and Ron Dietz, President, agreed to a settlement. Here is the article that was posted:
But it seems judges don't really appreciate defendants who violate settlement agreements. So on August 30, 2006 when plaintiff Alan Schleifer filed a sworn affidavit to the court regarding the violation of the settlement agreement, the judge had absolutely no problem signing a FINAL JUDGMENT against Ronald Dietz to the tune of $5,000 in damages and $255 in costs, plus interest from the day of judgment.
And since the judgment is against the person Ronald Dietz -- nobody else -- it will have to be Ronald Dietz who will have to pay this amount, not the association or the community members.
Maybe it will teach some board members that they are not untouchable -- and that being board president doesn’t give them carte blanche to insult their neighbors or call them names, just because they don't agree with their opinions!
In my opinion, this case clearly shows why certain board members are against community association reforms and why they support the attorney-lobbying group CALL, hoping that desperately needed reforms to protect owners against these shenanigans can be defeated in Tallahassee.
I guess the attitude of this board president becomes obvious if you see his quote: "I'm the CEO and this association is not a democratic organization!"
The question: "Where do we live? In a Florida community association or in CUBA?"