court: Marine can't be forced to sell
home in flag flap
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Posted March 24, 2005
PALM BEACH -- A retired Marine who has waged a five-year fight with his
homeowners association over a flag pole won a battle Wednesday when an appeals
court ruled his home can't be sold for lawyer fees.
George Andres with his Chihuahua "Cha-che" in front of his
home in Jupiter. Foreclosure on Andres' home had been scheduled for
October 2003, but a trial judge delayed the action to give Andres time
to appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal. In Wednesday's 3-0
decision, the appeals court agreed with Andres, and his wife, Anna, that
the Florida Constitution protects homes from forced sales except in very
Foreclosure on George Andres' home in Jupiter had been scheduled for October
2003, but a trial judge delayed the action to give Andres time to appeal to the
4th District Court of Appeal.
Wednesday's 3-0 decision, the appeals court agreed with Andres, and his wife,
Anna, that the Florida Constitution protects homes from forced sales except in
very limited circumstances.
And attorney fees are not on the list, Judge Fred Hazouri wrote.
"I'm glad to see we were able to get the laws to do what they were supposed
to,'' Andres said.
A trial judge had scheduled a foreclosure sale to allow the homeowners'
association to collect more than $20,000 in legal fees that have been accruing
in the case.
The Indian Creek Phase 3B Homeowners Association permits flags flown only from
brackets attached to house walls; Andres objected because the flag would have
touched bushes in his yard. So he put up a 13-foot flagpole.
Attorney General Charlie Crist, who helped in the case, called the ruling a
"tremendous victory, not only for George and Anna Andres, but for the
concept of property rights in Florida.''
Andres' attorney, Barry Silver, said the ruling should encourage homeowners who
are afraid to challenge their homeowners' associations because of the belief
they could lose their homes.
West Palm Beach attorney Steven Selz, who represents the homeowners association,
did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Andres' difficulties attracted attention in Tallahassee, where the Legislature
passed a law allowing people to fly the American flag regardless of homeowner
On Flag Day in 2002, Gov. Jeb Bush presented Andres a flag that had flown over
the state Capitol and helped him raise it on the flagpole. But the new law did
not help Andres in the foreclosure case because it was passed long after the
lien was placed on his house.
The underlying dispute over the flagpole is still in trial court but Andres, 68,
has been flying his flag for the last three years under a temporary injunction.
And he's got a bigger flagpole now than when he began --- 20 feet instead of 13.
"My flag still flies and it will never come down,'' Andres said.
couple won't lose home for having a flagpole, court rules
By Missy Stoddard
Article Courtesy Sun Sentinel
Posted March 24 2005
Everywhere George Andres has
lived, an American flag has been displayed proudly out front.
"It's a part of me, a part of my family," said the 68-year-old
Marine Corps veteran, who with his wife, Anna, lives in the Indian Creek
Phase III-B subdivision in Jupiter.
The Andreses' patriotism
almost cost the couple their home and life savings and landed them in
front of news cameras across the country.
On Wednesday, they learned an appeals court had ruled that their
homeowners association could not foreclose on the couple's home to recover
thousands of dollars in legal fees. In other words, the Andreses would not
lose the two-bedroom, one-bath home they have lived in since 1998.
"I jumped for joy when [ my attorney ] called me up," George
In 1999, the homeowners association filed suit against the Andreses,
saying their 12-foot flagpole violated neighborhood regulations that only
permitted flags to be flown from wall brackets attached to homes. The
following year, a judge ordered the Andreses to remove the flagpole and an
appeals court agreed with the ruling.
The flagpole controversy touched a nerve with the state Legislature, Gov.
Jeb Bush and Attorney General Charlie Crist. In 2002, the governor signed
into law a bill allowing people to fly a removable U.S. flag in a
respectful manner, regardless of homeowner association rules. On Flag Day
of that year, Bush presented to George Andres a flag that had flown over
the state Capitol. The governor then helped Andres raise it.
The case drew national media attention. George Andres appeared on hundreds
of radio shows as well as Good Morning America, CNN and FOX News.
Andres said he was inundated with more than 1,000 e-mails supporting his
But a lingering issue plagued the Andreses. In an effort to collect more
than $20,000 in legal fees, the association filed a lien against the
Andreses' home and was seeking to foreclose on the property.
Along with an attorney from Crist's office, Andres' attorney Barry Silver
argued in 2003 that Florida's homestead exemption provides a
constitutional protection against the sale of a home to collect a debt.
That argument was rejected and the case went to the 4th District Court of
Appeal in West Palm Beach, which issued its ruling Wednesday in favor of
"He's someone who stood up to the tyranny of the association and I'm
sure there will be celebrations in his community and homeowners all over
the state of Florida," Silver said.
Steven Selz, attorney for the Indian Creek Phase III-B homeowners
association, could not be reached for comment. Board member Linda
Greenwood referred all questions to president Christine Royce, who also
could not be reached.
The homeowners association can ask for a rehearing on the appellate
In a written statement, Crist praised the appeals court's decision,
calling it "a tremendous victory ... for the concept of property
rights in Florida."
Silver, who represented the Andreses for free, said he intends to now seek
attorney fees from the homeowners association for his work, which the law
permits when the attorney prevails. Silver said his fees, which will
likely total in excess of $100,000, should offset the almost $8,000 the
Andreses still owe in association fines, levied before the governor
enacted the law.
"They shouldn't have to pay anything," Silver said.
Andres, a Brooklyn-born electrician who works at the Home Depot, said he
is humbled by the attention and help he received from political
heavyweights in Tallahassee.
"The attorney general and the governor ... have protected the people
of Florida from unscrupulous homeowners associations," George Andres