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ARTICLE ID 194354

DEFENDANTS’ Defamation - Alleged issuance of inappropriate estoppel letter by homeowners’ association president – Loss of home sale – Default on purchase of new home.

Broward County, FL

The plaintiffs brought this action against the defendants, a Davie homeowners’ association, and its president, for breach of fiduciary duty, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference with contract. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants issued an inappropriate estoppel letter which caused a delay in the sale of the plaintiffs’ Davie home and default on the purchase of a property in Bronson, Florida. The defendants maintained that the estoppel letter was truthful and appropriate.

The plaintiffs were next door neighbors to the defendant president of the homeowners’ association for more than 15 years. In ________, the plaintiffs were in the midst of selling their home in Davie, Florida, while purchasing another home in Bronson, Florida. In handling the closing for the Davie home, the title company requested an estoppel letter from the defendant homeowners’ association (to show that the plaintiffs were not in arears).The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant president, in her individual capacity and as the president of the association, issued estoppel letters stating that the plaintiffs’ fence needed to be repaired.The plaintiffs argued that the issuance of these estoppel letters halted the sale of the plaintiffs’ Davie home and caused them to default on the purchase of the Bronson home. The plaintiffs also argued that the defendant’s issuance of the estoppel letters caused an intentional infliction of emotional distress, and contended that their son was involved in a severe car accident just days before the first estoppel letter was written, and that the defendant issued the estoppel letter referencing a fence violation, despite having been informed of his accident. The plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for approximately $________ in damages.

The defense contended that the plaintiffs were informed on two separate occasions, prior to the issuance of the estoppel letters, that their fence was in violation of the association’s governing documents and needed to be repaired; yet the plaintiffs failed to perform the necessary repairs. Accordingly, the defense maintained that the estoppel letter, outlining the need for the fence repair, was appropriately issued.The jury found for the defendants on all counts. Post-trial motions are currently pending.

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