Plaintiff estopped from denying liability for attorneys’ fees

more+
less-

The Plaintiff in this Homeowner’s Association case lived and owned a home within a multi-association community. His neighborhood was governed by a Homeowners Association and the collection of neighborhoods in his community, each consisting of an individual Homeowners Association, were collectively governed by a Master Association. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Master Association had failed to comply with certain provisions of Chapter 720, Florida Statutes.After a hearing, the trial court entered final summary judgment in favor of the Master Association. The Master Association thereafter moved for and was awarded prevailing-party attorney’s fees pursuant to section 720.305(1), Florida Statutes.

Plaintiff argued on appeal that he was not liable for attorneys’ fees because he was not actually a member of the Master Association, and, therefore, the applicable fee shifting language within section 720.305(1) did not apply.

The 5th DCA found, as a matter of statutory interpretation, that he was a member, but, more interestingly, also found that Plaintiff was “estopped from denying liability” for attorneys’ fees.

By filing suit, Plaintiff “held himself out to be a member of the Master Association with standing to sue under section 720.305(1).”  The Plaintiff could not claim he was a member with standing to file suit, then deny that he was a member in an attempt to avoid fee liability.

ROSENBERG v.  METROWEST MASTER ASS’N, INC., et al., 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1476a, (Case No. 5D12-4062 July 5, 2013).