WHAT YOU SAY
Eric Glazer, Esq.
July 30, 2012
first thing a Board member must do, before learning all the
laws, reading your docs and memorizing the rules is to
immediately grow a thicker skin.
Often times, Board members hear residents say things like
"so where has all our money gone" or "if you knew
what you were doing, we wouldn't need another special
these are the compliments. So
what's a Board member to do?
Most experienced Board members know that even if they figured
out how to reduce assessments by 90%, there's an owner out there
who will say they could have reduced it by 95%.
Over time you kind of learn to expect these comments and
it becomes a little easier to let them roll off your back.
I can't tell you though how many times Board members have
called me, wanting desperately to file a lawsuit against an
owner who is vocal in the community and who routinely criticizes
the Board members for their actions.
I'm here to tell them in no uncertain terms…..get over
unit owner doesn't lose their first amendment rights to
criticize their elected representatives, just because the
criticism occurs behind the gates of a condominium or HOA.
Freedom of Speech, including the right to campaign
against the Board, question their decisions and complain about
their conduct exists in
community associations and can't be taken away pursuant to the
First Amendment. Because
the owners have an interest in their community, communications
of this nature are considered "privileged" and are
the foregoing, there are definitely times when accusations
against Board members go too far and a lawsuit may be warranted.
There is no such right to accuse a Board member of
stealing association funds or receiving kickbacks and engaging
in other criminal conduct. Accusing
a Board member of a crime, with no proof that the crime was
committed, is defamation per se, is not protected speech and can
get the author of the comment in legal hot water.
the flip side, Board members who accuse owners of criminal
conduct can also find themselves named as a defendant in a
lawsuit. I once
represented an owner in an association who was vocal in his
criticism of the Board. As
a result, the members of the Board of Directors jointly prepared
and disseminated a letter to the community wherein they accused
him of a crime, cheating on his real estate taxes.
The Broward County Judge assigned to the case, though the
conduct of the Board members was so egregious, that he allowed
my client to seek punitive damages against them.
The case settled.
Last week, I learned during a deposition that despite having
practiced in this area for 20 years, I haven't seen everything.
I represent an individual in a community that sent a
rather harmless letter to other members of the community, not
accusing the Board members of stealing, but simply questioning
certain decisions and wondering why so much money was recently
spent. In return, he
was served with a lawsuit by the President who said he thought
the letter was defamatory.
I took the President's deposition, and learned that
despite the fact that there was a reputable management company
in place at the condominium, he was still in favor of keeping
the court appointed receiver in place.
Receiverships are normally quite costly to the
association so his testimony didn't make much sense.
That is until he testified that a sister company of the
receiver pays him $7,500.00 per month to use his realtor's
license. I think he
should have had a thicker skin too before picking a fight with a
unit owner. That
case too settled upon conclusion of the deposition.
At least to me, the action of the Board member in filing
suit for defamation was the classic case of "he doth
protest too much."
Anyone ever sue or been sued for defamation?
Threatened to be sued for defamation?
When, why and how did it turn out?
If you would like to register for The Condo Craze Board Member
Certification Course in
on August 15th or in
on November 8th, sign up at www.condocrazeandhoas.com.