Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Paul Brinkmann
Published June 4, 2018
A legal feud between a MetroWest condo owner and his
condo owners’ association escalated over the Memorial Day weekend, as armed
deputies entered Howard Fox’s home with a judge’s order to seize all of his
“I’m basically homeless now,” said Fox, who is staying
with family temporarily. “The house was completely empty, so I couldn’t live
there. All that was left was the fridge and the carpet.”
He has sued the condo association several
times, mostly regarding a history of construction defects at
the complex, called the Hamptons at MetroWest. It’s the
largest condo complex in Orlando.
The association obtained a judge’s order to confiscate
everything in Fox’s condo based on the court awarding the
association $104,700 in attorney’s fees. The order itself
Fox’s attorney, Mark Lippman, said the property seizure was
technically legal, but he called it “dirty play” purely
designed to get Fox out of the complex. It also costs money
to get what is known as a break order, he said, and Fox’s
items probably won’t satisfy the judgment if sold at
“I’ve not seen a collection effort to this degree,” he said. “I’ve gotten
break orders in the past, but only after all other avenues had been
The judgment against Fox had been signed in March.
An attorney for the association, Scott Newsom, said the group did what it
had to do to enforce the judgment.
“Fox had an opportunity to satisfy the judgment or enter into a payment plan
and chose not to,” he said.
Another attorney for the board, Jim Byrd Jr., said the condo association
couldn’t comment on the matter any further because it is part of ongoing
“Mr. Fox owes the Association in excess of $104,000 for legal fees incurred
as a result of litigation in which the association has prevailed against Mr.
Fox,” he said in a statement. “The Association obtained a final judgment for
those amounts against Mr. Fox, and took lawful action to collect on that
Both sides of the dispute have had plenty of legal trouble for years. Fox
pleaded no contest to brandishing a firearm, a felony, during a
confrontation with guests in the complex in 2013.
The condo association has racked up $3.5 million in code violations for
shoddy construction, water damage and other problems. Construction crews are
working on repairs.
Fox has sued the association over the construction defects, and they sued
him, alleging that he displayed “aggressive harassing” behavior routinely in
the complex and allegedly disparaged the complex’s board in a blog.
Fox signed a settlement in 2015 agreeing not to defame the board anymore. It
also restricted his ability to file complaints.
Lippman said he thinks the settlement and the break order may have violated
Fox’s constitutional rights.
“They spent money on this, rather than on fixing their code violations,” the
A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s office said they couldn’t provide more
detail on its actions since the judge sealed the order. She said the agency
does not track break orders.