THE FIRST AMENDMENT
IS ALIVE AND WELL
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published April 25, 2016
Some justice was done in an Orange County
courtroom last week. The firm’s client was sued by her
association because she started a website that included the name
of the association in the website address. The website was also
critical of the association and the Board. Other members of the
community had the opportunity to post what they thought as well.
In retaliation, the association sued our
client under the Registration and Protection of Trademarks Act
for simply unauthorized use of the association’s name, libel,
slander and tortious interference. After the court repeatedly
dismissed the case, the association wouldn’t let go and
proceeded to file a forth amended complaint. In response, our
firm filed what’s called a 57.105 motion. Basically, it’s a
motion that puts the other side and their counsel on notice that
they filed a frivolous claim and that if they don’t dismiss the
claim, we will be seeking prevailing party attorney’s fees
against not only the association, but the association’s
attorneys as well.
A few days after we filed the motion, the
association dismissed all claims. However, our office argued
that under the very statutes that our client was accused of
violating, we were now still entitled to an award of prevailing
party attorney’s fees and costs. Of course the association
fought against our client’s entitlement to fees, so the court
was required to hold a hearing. At the hearing, our firm
requested approximately $26,000.00 and the court awarded us
almost $23,000.00, pretty close to everything we asked for.
Think about what an association can do with
an additional $23,000.00. That may get a building painted. It
may get new carpeting in the hallways or even a new deck for the
pool area. At this condominium however, it is being used to pay
the attorney’s fees to a unit owner who had the audacity to
criticize the members of her condominium’s board of directors.
Here’s the bottom line for those of you who
volunteer your time to serve on the Board. Thank you for your
work. We know you don’t get paid for it and no matter what you
do, there are people that are going to be critical of you.
However, you know that going in. If your feathers are going to
be ruffled each and every time someone says you stink, you will
always be miserable and on the defensive. Instead, simply do the
right thing, which is your best. And, quickly get used to the
fact that we still have a first amendment in this country that
lets people voice their displeasure with those they elect, all
the way from the President of The United States to the President
of the condominium’s Board of Directors.
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated from
the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for more than 2
decades and is the owner of Glazer
and Associates, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples,
Fort Myers and Tampa.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host
of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs
at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
He is the first attorney in the
State of Florida that designed a course that certifies
condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium
Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000
Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit
Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated
dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric
also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the
best interest of Florida community association members.