Castle Beach residents file lawsuit against condo board


Article Courtesy of the Miami Herald


Posted Friday, May 13, 2005

The residents of a high rise condominium on Miami Beach, who were forced to evacuate April 14 after building officials declared it structurally unsafe, have filed a class action lawsuit against three members of the condo board.

The suit, brought by resident and attorney Elizabeth Martialay, was filed this week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Martialay alleges that the three members of the board -- Leopoldo Gonzalez, Emilio Berkowitz and Horacio Mecozzia -- knew of the building's mounting problems and ignored them.

The three board members own 150 of the 540 units at Castle Beach Condominiums, 5445 Collins Ave.

According to the suit, the three ``knew about numerous code violations and failed to remedy them despite demand from the city of Miami Beach.''

Their negligence, Martialay said in the suit, has forced hundreds of residents to ''remain liable for maintenance, assessments, taxes and mortgage obligations'' on units they are not allowed to visit without first making an appointment.

Michael Gongora, the attorney representing the three board members, said his clients ``deny many of the allegations contained in the complaint.''

He also questioned the need for a class action suit since many of the same allegations have already been raised in a separate lawsuit filed by another unit owner.

Building officials ordered the evacuation after finding electrical wiring defects they say made the structure unsafe. The short notice prompted an outcry from resident but city officials said the building had had a growing list of violations over the past two years.

County Tells Condo Residents To Get Out