Lawsuit: Seven Bridges HOA filed false claims that have damaged caterer's reputation

Article Courtesy of  The Palm Beach Post

By Mike Diamond

Published November 5, 2021


BOCA RATON — Drama and the Seven Bridges community seem to go together.

At issue this time is the departure of prominent caterer Jason Savino, who operated the Seven Bridges full-service restaurant from the day it opened at the luxury home development west of Boca Raton in May 2017 through March 2020, when he and the HOA board decided to part ways.

Just before Savino left, the HOA filed a police report that accused one of his employees of breaking into the management office to steal documents. Neither Savino nor the employee has been charged with wrongdoing.

But at open board meetings, board members discussed the alleged break-in. They also claimed that Savino was let go because he failed to provide the HOA with required financial statements, according to a defamation lawsuit filed by Savino. His lawyers argue that the HOA falsely filed the police report and made other false claims against him that have damaged his reputation. The lawsuit alleges that the false claims were made to justify the decision to bring in a new vendor.

Savino’s company, Potions in Motion, bills itself as a premier full-service gourmet catering business. The company also designs and builds restaurants, and has built them at a number of GL Homes developments in Palm Beach County. Savino continues to operate the restaurant at The Bridges, which is just east of Seven Bridges on Lyons Road. The restaurants are not open to the public; only residents and their guests can eat at them.

Jason Savino ran the full service restaurant in the Seven Bridges community for three years.


An email to the community acknowledged support for re-hiring Savino but said that was unlikely to happen based on his performance during the time he managed the restaurant. According to the lawsuit, those comments and others by board members at meetings “imputed a criminal offense to the plaintiffs and a breach of its contract.”

Seven Bridges’ effort to have the lawsuit dismissed was denied Oct. 7. Efforts to obtain comment from Seven Bridges and Savino have been unsuccessful.

But HOA lawyers responded in court documents that the HOA had “an obligation to warn and educate its membership” about the possible commission of a crime. The HOA, the response said, had “a qualified privilege to publish the alleged statements to its membership” and that the alleged defamatory statements are “not readily capable of being proven false.”

Seven Bridges, a development where homes often sell for more than $1 million, is already defending itself against claims in federal court that the HOA discriminated against a Christian homeowner for not being Jewish. That case is expected to go trial in April. The Post has extensively reported on the lawsuit. The family is asking for an award of $7 million, arguing that the HOA did nothing to stop members of the community from religiously discriminating against them.

Lawyers for the Christian family want to present evidence of fraud at a Seven Bridges’ HOA board election. Court filings cite a article that reports the then-HOA president resigned and withdrew from the 2020 board election after it was discovered that he accessed the community’s online voting system to determine the vote status just prior to the election. The HOA argues that the claim is irrelevant to the allegation of housing discrimination; a federal judge says he will determine the relevancy of the issue at trial.

Meanwhile, also reports that the HOA has since hired two restaurant vendors after Savino’s contract was not renewed in March 2020. And it is about to hire a third one.

A recording at Seven Bridges says the restaurant will reopen Nov. 1. It has been closed for nearly three weeks after Chef Angelo Elia left. He was there for only a few months. Elia operates a number of restaurants in South Florida. It is not clear why he left. Efforts to obtain a comment from him were unsuccessful.