Article Courtesy of The
By Beth Kassab
Published August 8, 2017
state arbitrator recused herself Thursday from a dispute over control of the
homeowners association in Poinciana after she filed a Florida Bar complaint
against the lawyer representing the association.
Terri Leigh Jones, an arbitrator for the
Department of Business and Professional Regulation, wrote
that she had an “ethical duty” to report Thomas Slaten to
the Florida Bar because he did not alert her to a circuit
court case involving the same dispute.
A circuit court judge in Polk County issued a ruling last
month that appeared to contradict the arbitrator’s ruling in
June over how the Association of Poinciana Villages can
determine how many votes the community’s developer, Avatar,
can cast in HOA elections.
“This lack of disclosure has resulted in unnecessary waste
of time and resources,” Jones stated in her Aug. 3 letter to
the Florida Bar, which oversees the professional conduct of
A spokeswoman for the Association of Poinciana Villages
referred questions to Slaten, who did not respond to phone
He is a member of the bar in “good standing” and does not
have a disciplinary history, according to a bar spokeswoman,
who said Friday the bar had not yet received the
Keith Laytham, left, and Martin Negron, right, are
among Poinciana-area residents challenging Homeowners Associations
and developer Avatar in legal disputes.
The arbitrator’s recusal comes just two days after a state-ordered election
was held in Poinciana because the arbitrator tossed out the results of a
February election for the community of 50,000 people that straddles Osceola
and Polk counties. Candidates supported by homeowners failed to overcome the
voting power of the developer Tuesday in the election that state Rep. John
Cortes, D-Kissimmee, called a “sham” after he was barred from the room where
the vote tally was taking place.