By Stephen Cluney

The former board of directors of Southchase Parcel 45 Home Owners Association filed suit (on November 30, 2001) against the "new" board elected at the special meeting held on November 19, 2001 at the Southwood Elementary School cafeteria.  Attorney James Olson, (Law Firm Wean and Malchow) who was present at the November 19th meeting, represented the interests of the former board.  He alleged that he was representing the Southchase HOA.  Mr. Olson moved the court for a "status quo" temporary injunction enjoining the "defendants" (the newly elected board), from acting as and/or holding themselves out to be the board of directors of the Southchase Parcel 45 Community Association, Inc, from taking any actions allegedly on behalf of the Southchase Parcel 45 Community Association, and/or from otherwise interfering with the lawful business conducted by the current lawfully elected and/or appointed board of directors…"

The motion was heard by the Honorable George A Sprinkel, IV. on December 6, 2001, in the Orange County Courthouse, Room 18-B.

Mr. Alan Taylor (Law Firm Litchford and Christopher), recently appointed legal counsel for Southchase Parcel 45, represented the interests of the newly elected board and the entire association - the homeowners.

Judge Sprinkel found that there was clearly more than a majority of the votes required (of the quorum) to recall/elect the board.  He also stated that the former board exposed the HOA to unnecessary litigation.  He denied their motion for temporary injunction against the newly elected board and ordered that records be turned over immediately to the duly elected board of directors. 

The Honorable Sprinkel recognized that the expense generated by the former board represented an "unnecessary defiant expense."  The court made it clear that the former board had no "justiciable issue of law or fact", and that upon the motion of the HOA it would entertain the Association's request that the individuals of the former board be held financially responsible for the court expenses.

This court action makes clear that the official board of directors for Southchase Parcel 45 consists of those members duly elected on November 19, 2001.  The newly elected board intends to serve this association to the best of its ability in an open, honest, forthright manner, focusing on the best interest of the community.

Please read the COURT DECISION
By Jan Bergemann

Just when everybody thought that the whole excitement was over and the homeowners in SOUTHCHASE PARCEL 45 can relax and try to enjoy their homes again, the "former" board and their attorney James Olson from the CAI law firm Wean & Malchow, Orlando, Fl., came up with a new twist. If you remember, they first filed a suit for using wrong proxy forms, the same used since years in this association. At that time everybody agreed and settled for a new Special Meeting at an agreed upon time and place and the management firm sent out an invitation to every homeowners complete with "correct" proxy forms. 

The meeting took place as agreed upon on Monday, November 19, 2001. And, according to the count, the old board was beaten fair and square and replaced by the new board in the presence of attorneys and many homeowners. So, everybody went home, hoping that the problem was solved, enough legal fees spent for nothing and many concerned homeowners thought life would come back to normal.

That would have possibly been the normal scenario in a normal world, but not in a homeowners' association legally represented by a well known CAI law firm. Knowing that the newly elected board wouldn't require their services any longer, these attorneys came up with a new twist :
A Temporary Injunction with plaintiff's named SOUTHCHASE PARCEL 45 Community Association, Inc. representing the "old board". The named reason for this newly filed law-suit is a "declaratory judgment action to determine, among other issues, whether the provisions of F.S.617.0808 - Removal of Directors - are controlling over conflicting provisions of the Association's Bylaws. In his filing he "conveniently" forgot to mention paragraphs 2-7 where among other issues the duties of the outgoing board are described.
I am not an attorney or one of these legal eagles, but I can read and my common sense tells me that something is seriously wrong here. Last I heard these places are called homeowners' associations, not attorney's association or management company's association! That in my opinion means that the homeowners are the people in charge. And I guess the homeowners are not really interested if bylaws are superior to Statutes or vice versa. They came to Southchase to live their lives and not being pawns in a legal battle fought at their expense by certain people who don't want to accept that they lost! 

I just hope that the judge will decide in favor of the majority of homeowners in this association and will charge the cost to the former board members, who were clearly beaten in this special meeting, after all parties agreed that they would accept the outcome, and to the attorney's firm, who obviously doesn't want to accept when they are beaten.
Hopefully this hearing will end this legal argument and the people can get back to their normal lives. This example plainly shows that life in a HOA is not  just "carefree living" as so often advertised by the industry, but it's often run by attorneys, who consider this a great source of easy income!
Let's give the rights back to the people and homeowners, who pay their dues and just want to live their lives. A majority vote by homeowners should be accepted by everybody, even if they don't like the outcome!

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