Polk circuit judge OKs portion of Poinciana homeowners' lawsuit against HOA

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Ryan Gillespie

Published October 21, 2017

After nearly two years of effort, a lawsuit filed by three homeowners against one of the state’s largest homeowners associations is finally moving forward.

Polk County Circuit Judge Larry Helms ruled two counts alleging breach of contract can proceed to the discovery stage, though several other allegations were dismissed from the latest version of the homeowners’ lawsuit.

In the remaining counts, homeowners Peter Jolly, Victor Destremps and Annette Brown say Avatar, which is the developer of the Association of Poinciana Villages neighborhood, should have turned over control of its elected board to homeowners.

Attorney Jennifer Englert, who is representing Jolly, Destremps and Brown, said they can now pursue documents they previously haven’t been able to obtain.

“Finally we can move forward,” Englert said. “The goal is to have [the homeowners] control their community.”

The ruling is the latest development in a years-long legal battle between the HOA, its developer and a group of homeowners advocating to take control of the community of more than 50,000 residents straddling Osceola and Polk counties.

Earlier this year, the group, Friends of Poinciana Villages, convinced an arbitrator with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to toss out a February HOA election.

This suit was first filed in December 2015 but was set back by three previous complaints being tossed out, prior to Helms’ Oct. 9 decision to let the two breach-of-contract claims proceed.

“This dismissal [of the other counts] marks the fifth dismissal in a series of failed lawsuits brought by the Friends of Poinciana Villages,” the HOA said in a statement.

The next hearing in the case is not yet scheduled, court records show.