Lawsuit takes aim at Greenacres condo association

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

By Jane Musgrave

Published March 25, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH Even though Sidney Hansford found his tires flattened by nails and a copy of a racially offensive song on his car, he still wanted to live in one of the massive condominium developments off Melaleuca Lane in Greenacres.

However, when it came time to renew his lease, the board of Pine Ridge South II Condominium Association turned him down. He claims it is because he is black.

Hansford's claims, made in a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court, are part of a three-prong attack on the association, charging it with racial discrimination.

Hansford is joined in the lawsuit by Norma Hendrickson, a white woman who rented her unit to him for 15 months before his renewal application was rejected in 2005.

Allen Mansfield, who is accusing the association of refusing to let him buy a unit in the development because of his race, is also part of the lawsuit filed by attorney Jim Green, a civil rights attorney, and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.

In court papers, the association denies the allegations, claiming it merely was enforcing its rules.

However, in the lawsuit, Green claims the rules were changed for his clients.

For instance, Mansfield was required to be interviewed by the board, something prospective white buyers aren't forced to do.

Further, he said, association rules dictate the board must make a decision on a prospective buyer within 20 days. Mansfield's review dragged on for nearly two months after he signed a contract to purchase a unit in March 2005.

Likewise, Green claims, Hansford was cited for violations, such as improper parking. Similar violations by whites are routinely ignored, he said. The violations were used to deny him a new lease.

Hendrickson claims she sold her unit in the condominium after Hansford's renewal was rejected, fearing reprisals from board members.

The suit, assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks, seeks actual and punitive damages.