SOUTH FLORIDA – Community association law firm Kaye & Bender P.L. has filed an unprecedented law suit on behalf of Carla Gemmati, an owner in the Lake Pointe Condominium No. Seven, in Oakland Park, and all similarly situated unit owners at the Condominium, against her Association and its Board for intentionally eliminating the Community’s windstorm coverage, which is mandated under Chapter 718 of Florida Statutes (the “Condominium Act”).
The law suit states that the Association is “compromising Gemmati’s ability to pay her mortgage; that the association’s actions are instilling doubt in unit owners as to the Board’s leadership abilities; and, that the Board is placing unit owners at risk with the pending hurricane season.” The suit was filed in the 17th Judicial Circuit County Court with the Honorable Judge Steven Shutter presiding.
“A great many condominium associations are experiencing financial hardships due to dwindling assessment income coupled with the large volume of lender foreclosures, and are making efforts to cut their expenses,” said attorney Robert Kaye, managing member at Kaye & Bender. “Lake Pointe Owners Association, Inc., however, has been overzealous in discontinuing their windstorm insurance on the entire Condominium. The Association is placing an unnecessary and improper financial burden on individual unit owners whose lenders require a certain level of insurance and will charge them an excessive amount for this coverage if the Association does not provide this coverage.”
Lake Pointe Condominium No. Seven is part of a 382-unit, 17-building condominium in Oakland Park that, until recently, had a windstorm insurance policy. Due to the failure of the Association to renew the policy, Gemmati’s mortgage lender gave her an ultimatum to either provide proof of adequate windstorm insurance or pay a $4,500 annual premium for forced placed coverage. When Gemmati was unable to convince the Board to renew its windstorm policy, her lender went ahead and purchased a policy on her behalf, charging the cost of the policy premium against her mortgage.
While no other unit owners are currently named plaintiffs in this case, Kaye anticipates there are and/or will be several other affected unit owners at this Condominium who will come forward when they become aware of the pending case. The suit was also filed as a derivative action on behalf of all Members of the Association, as provided in a newly adopted provision in the Florida Not-For-Profit Corporation Statute (Chapter 617).
“Now that the law suit is filed, the parties are currently in the process of being served personally,” Kaye said. “In that there are several scenarios that could play out, it is premature to speculate how long this may take in the court system.”
Kaye & Bender in South Florida is a full service commercial law firm concentrating on the representation of community associations since 1991. The firm provides legal services to more than 700 associations throughout Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. For more information, visit http://KayeBenderLaw.com.