Small Claims Court Lawsuit for Violation of Florida Statutes
An Easy "HOW-TO"!

ATTENTION:

Since July 1, 2007 any dispute regarding access to the official records of the association has to mediated, according to FS 720.311 

  

Are you living as well in one of these fancy Homeowners' Association, where the Board and their Attorney feel that they are above the Florida Statutes and don't have to obey them? Or they tell you in a public board meeting that you should sue them, if you don't like the way they are doing business?

  

Don't feel alone! It happens on a daily basis all over Florida. And you're in pretty good company. Even the General Attorney's office was rebuked by a HOA attorney in a recent legal challenge. Quote: "Association attorney Donald Peyton responded with a letter dated Oct. 14 in which he questioned the 'legal authority' of the Attorney General's Office to demand the records."

 

Gee, maybe you should take them up on their challenge and show them you really will sue them! Homeowners in Chimney Lakes, Jacksonville, did exactly that and a judge in Circuit Court agreed with the homeowners. This case dealt with so-called official documents, which according to FS 720.303(4) + (5) have to be made available upon written request.

  
Although it may not initially produce the records -- Small Claims Courts are not set up for that purpose  --  it may produce $500.00 + the refund for the initial filing fee. And it leaves your board and the attorney with lots of egg on their faces. Good possibility to show your neighbors that your board clearly violated Florida Statutes and are as well in breach of their fiduciary duty -- at the expense of the homeowners. In this case the HOA attorney charged the association a few thousand dollars to defend the indefensible.
Result:  See below!

It all started with a so-called 10-day demand letter sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the registered agent of the association (in this case, the management company).  If you don't receive any response, call after ten days to remind them. Then wait another ten days before going to the local courthouse to file the necessary Small Claims Court Form. This is just a workable example. Just fill in the applicable questions and attach the copies of the 10-day letter and a copy of the certified mail receipt.  (You do need minimum three copies each.)  Use wording in Question 1 below.  Usually there is a special office, where somebody will assist you with the filing. You do have to pay the fee -- somewhere around $50.00 depending on the Court -- and the charge for the process server, normally $20.00. In order to make things easy on you and the judge, just file for one item at a time. You might anyway not get more than $500.00, depending on the judge. From then on, everything will go automatically. Possibly your board might contact you and offer to give you the required document. They may have realized by now that you were serious about it?  Don't forget, in the meanwhile that it's requested document PLUS filing fee that you are now entitled to receive.

At trial all you have to bring is a copy of the Florida Statutes, or make it two, in case the HOA attorney claims he doesn't know about this rule.  Explain to the judge that you filed the lawsuit for monetary damages, according to Florida Statutes 720.303. The HOA attorney might come with a few excuses, but actually there are none. The Florida Statutes are very clear in this matter.

You should end up with a Final Judgment as seen below.

Then it's time to make copies of this final judgment to send to your neighbors.  Make sure that they don’t vote again for board members that violate the Florida Statutes and waste valuable association funds.

Please, don't forget: The place where you've built your dream home is called a homeowners' association.  As the homeowner, YOU should have the last word in regard to decisions made for the "welfare" of the members.  It's not called "Board" or "Attorney" or "Management Company" association for a reason. Supposedly, the board, attorney and management company are just the tools to make your community work right.  They are not to be dictators that call the shots and disregard the wishes of the homeowners.

Please remember: This only works in Florida -- see applicable statutes!

If you have questions, please let us know at: info@ccfj.net 
  
10-day Letter

To whom it may concern,
Under section 720.303 of Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, I hereby request a copy of ...................... (name document + use description as in Statutes). As I am sure that you are aware of, the Association has 10 days to provide these documents. After that time has expired, the association will be required to pay a $50.00 per day fine up to 10 days.
Regards


Fill in name of document you would like the board to produce, but make sure that it is part of the documents listed in
FS 720.303 (4) a - j  and 1 - 4
  
SCANNED VERSION
 
IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE
FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN
AND FOR DUVAL COUNTY

CASE NUMBER: ___02-04294 SP__
DIVISION: ______________F_________

William “Bill” F. Lewis, Jr.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Jacksonville, FL  32244                                 PHONE# (904) XXX-XXXX 
PLAINTIFF(S)

VS.

Board of Directors
Chimney Lakes Owners Association (CLOA)
C/O Property Management Systems Inc.; Registered Agent for CLOA
2215 East S.R. 200
Yulee, FL  32097                                           PHONE# (800) 374-6538 (Bus.) 
DEFENDANT(S)

                                  AMENDED STATEMENT OF CLAIM

Plaintiff(S)   William “Bill” F. Lewis, Jr.                                                         SUES 
DEFENDANT(S)  Chimney Lakes Owners Association Board of Directors 

                                                          AND ALLEGES:

1. THIS IS AN ACTION FOR DAMAGES THAT DOES NOT EXCEED $5000.00. 

2.     (GIVE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF WHY YOU HAVE FILED THIS SUIT)
According to Florida Statutes Section 720.303 Subs. 5 a + b the Chimney Lakes Owners Association Board of Directors was required to comply with my request (Mailed January 16, 2002 and Delivered January 25, 2002) to inspect the following documents:

a) All proxies submitted to the Secretary prior to 7:00 pm at the December 4, 2001, Chimney Lakes Owners Association Annual Homeowners Meeting.  The proxies are part of the official Minutes of the Chimney Lakes Owners Association Annual Homeowners Meeting and as such, according to FS 720.303 Subs. 4 f, an official document. 

b) The list of owners in attendance at the December 4, 2001, Chimney Lakes Owners Association Annual Homeowners Meeting.  The list of members present is part of the official Minutes of the Chimney Lakes Owners Association Annual Homeowners Meeting and as such, according to FS 720.303 Subs. 4 f, an official document.

c) The minutes from the November 20, 2001, Chimney Lakes Owners Association Board of Directors regular monthly meeting.  The minutes are part of the official records of the Chimney Lakes Owners Association and as such, according to FS 720.303 Subs. 4 f, an official document.

d) The rules regarding the videotaping of Board of Directors meetings of the Chimney Lakes Owners Association.  A copy of the current rules is part of the official records of the Chimney Lakes Owners Association and as such, according to FS 720.303 Subs. 4 e, an official document.

Despite various verbal and written reminders, the Association did not comply with this request.  According to the Florida Statutes (FS 720.303 Subs. 5 a + b) the Association is required to pay damages.  The minimum damages are to be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th business day after receipt of the written request.  99 business days have elapsed since the February 8, 2002, expiration date. 

I hereby ask the court to render a judgment in the amount of $ 2500.00 + the cost for filing this suit (FS 720.305 Par.1) against the Association for willfully disregarding the Florida Statutes Section 720.303.

WHEREFORE, THE PLAINTIFF(S) DEMANDS JUDGMENT FOR DAMAGES AGAINST
DEFENDANT(S) IN THE AMOUNT OF $_2500.00_____ TOGETHER WITH THE COSTS OF FILING THIS SUIT.

Dated this _28th_ day of June, 2002.

                                                                            __William F. Lewis Jr._ 
                                                                                                    PLAINTIFF
 

Certificate of Service
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing was furnished to A. Jeffrey Tomassetti, Valerie C. Faltemier, and the Chimney Lakes Owners Association Board of Directors by depositing said copy in the U.S. Mail with adequate postage prepaid and via facsimile to the addresses below, on this _28th_ day of June, 2002:

A. Jeffrey Tomassetti
Valerie C. Faltemier
P.O. Box 1443
Fernandina, FL 32035-1443
Facsimile: (904) 261-8023

Board of Directors
Chimney Lakes Owners Association (CLOA)
C/O Property Management Systems Inc.; Registered Agent for CLOA
P.O. Box 1987
Yulee, FL  32041-1987
Facsimile: (904) 225-0790

                                                                        __William F. Lewis Jr._ 
                                                                                                    PLAINTIFF


 
SCANNED VERSION
 
IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE
FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA.
CASE NO :   02 04294 SP
DIVISION:   F
William "Bill" F Lewis Jr
XXXXXX
Jacksonville, FL XXXXX
         Plaintiff,

vs.

Board of Directors
Chimney Lakes Owners ASSOC (CLOA)
2215 E SR 200
Yulee, FL 32097
         Defendant,
_____________________

                                                  FINAL JUDGMENT

        THIS CAUSE came on for Trial and the Court having heard evidence and being
otherwise advised in the premises, it is,
        ORDERED:
        That Plaintiff recover from Defendant, the sum of $500.00 on principal, plus costs
herein taxed at $75.50, that shall bear interest at 9% per year, for all of which let execution
issue.
        DONE AND ORDERED this October 18, 2002, in Chambers, at Jacksonville, Duval
County, Florida. 

                                                                                     ORDER ENTERED
                                                                                       OCT 22, 2002
                                                                                       (Signed) JAMES A. RUTH
                                                                                       _________________________
                                                                                        JUDGE

Copies:

Plaintiff

A. Jeffrey Tomassetti, ESQ
P 0 Box 1443
Fernandina, FL 32053-1443

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