HOA Frivolous Lawsuit

If you believe in freedom of speech, question our legal and judicial system, hate bullies, and/or live in or are considering buying into a community with a homeowner association (HOA), this is a must-read.

First, an HOA is a private association formed by a real estate developer who eventually turns over the common areas to the property owners who form a Board of Directors to manage the roads, maintenance, and recreational facilities.  More than 340,000 HOAs operate in the US, and according to the Community Associations Institute, consists of about 26 million housing units. 

For some an HOA is a dream and for others a nightmare.  Our nightmare began when we purchased our dream house in a development with an HOA.  At the very first board meeting, we witnessed homeowners yelling and screaming at the Board of Directors.  We started talking to neighbors and quickly realized there was no trust between the Board and the property owners, mainly because it was the same board members for decades.

My wife and I thought it was a lack of communication so I started a website to foster communication between property owners and our development's Homeowner Association.  The website became very popular with property owners and the Association was even advertising my website as their official website.

Long story short (I did my best - this is a 14 year-long story!), property owners started criticizing the Association and questioning how their dues are being used, why loans are being taken without members’ approval, among other things.   The Association and board members did not like what was being said on the discussion board and asked that I take down the website.   I refused because I believed there should be transparency and that all property owners should know how their money is being spent.  The Association offered my wife a seat on the Board to fill a vacancy if the site would be taken down.  I refused but she agreed to stop any involvement with the discussion board thinking she could make a  difference as a board member, so she accepted the position.  I believe it was just a ploy to control her, the old 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer.'  After some investigation, I also found evidence of financial crimes, self-serving, and fraud, much of it because of the discussion board.  Also, even as a board member, my wife was not allowed to review the financials without signing a nondisclosure agreement which means they have something to hide.   This led me to investigate other things that did not make sense (unapproved loans, sales of assets, ...), causing me to file a complaint with the Attorney General and the FBI.  This is where my nightmare starts. 

As a result of my AG complaint, the Association's Property Manager,  ordered the Association's legal counsel to sue my wife and me via a handwritten message on the face of the Attorney General letter that resulted from the complaint I filed: “Mal - This is the husband of the Board member I would like to name in a suit.”
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At the time of the AG threat, Mal was a partner in the law firm that represented our HOA.  I believe the law firm was fired because they refused to fabricate a frivolous complaint, and the HOA hired a new bullying law firm, Young & Haros, who fabricated a frivolous Trademark Infringement action against us.  My wife was serving on the board at the time and was at the interview of the new law firm.  They were asked what should be done when 'dissidents don't fall in line.'  The two partners of the firm said 'You call the police.  If that doesn't work you take them to court,' which is exactly what they did. 

Also, referring to the handwritten threat on the AG letter and before the underlying action was filed the President of the Association emailed all board members the following concerns he had about the FBI visit:
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About a month before the bullying law firm filed the frivolous lawsuit, the president of the Association emailed the following threat:

"Court action against him as administrator of unauthorized web, filing Attorney General"
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Also, at the same time the bullying law firm was hired by the HOA, they were lobbying for the Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapter of the Community Association Institute and helped draft a position paper on why HOA’s should be excluded from the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. They concluded that:

“…condominium and homeowners associations do not sell or advertise what could be deemed goods and services, nor are homeowners considered consumers. To the contrary, associations are corporate entities charged with the management of their affairs. Its fiscal and administrative functions are carried out by a member-elected board of directors.”

Essentially arguing two opposing positions at the same time, telling a federal judge that the HOA advertises its goods and services to consumers in commerce while telling Pennsylvania lawmakers the complete opposite.  I view this conflict of interest as a testament to the moral and ethical values of the bullying law firm Young & Haros.

Almost a year after the frivolous filing, during court-ordered mediation, we decided to end the lawsuit because of financial, emotional and psychological distress.  We agreed to give them the website and never start a similar one.  We just wanted it over.  Our mediator (Sonny) instructed everyone to have no communications and sit quietly for 10 days until our agreement was written up.  The president of the association could not even wait one day and within hours sent the following email threatening more lawsuits. 

"I though I would forward a little more investigation on possible lawsuits."
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That's when we realized that if we ended the trademark case there will just be more frivolous lawsuits around the corner so we backed out of the agreement.  Sonny's response to the email was "this is litigious."  This email, like the others, show the underlying action was never about the alleged products, services, or consumer confusion, just bullying tactics to harass and harm us.  We agreed with the adage "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."  We knew we were legally, morally and ethically on the right side of this suit.

To make a long story short (again, I tried but this is a lot of #@%*), almost four years later we won the trademark infringement case because the Association filed to voluntarily dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning they can never go after us for this again), for changes I made weeks and/or months before the frivolous complaint was ever filed.  The lawsuit was frivolous and designed to force my wife and me to expend money in defending a frivolous lawsuit.

Currently,  the attorney representing us left the law firm who took our malicious prosecution case on contingency and the law firm withdrew as our counsel.  The court gave us 120 days to find new counsel.  We’ve talked to several attorneys and one firm wants a $25,000 starting retainer, the other wants $50,000 and we are waiting to hear from another. 

An attorney once advised 'If you want justice, avoid the judicial system at all costs.'  It seems the only winners in our judicial system are the lawyers.  Please help us fund our Malicious Prosecution action to send a message to bullying HOAs and bullying law firms. 

To thank you for your support:

We will be more than happy to refund all supporters with what they donated and more if we win so you can support other worthy causes like ours. Until we know what is awarded we cannot promise an exact amount but please know we will be extremely grateful to those who helped us along this crazy journey to justice and will be more than happy to “spread the joy.”  In our eyes, this fight is not about money but justice and teaching a lesson to those who use our judicial system as a weapon. 

Other ways to help

Please use the share tools at the top of this page to tweet, e-mail, or otherwise let people know about our fight.

Even if you're unable to contribute, you can still help by spreading the word about this campaign.  If nothing else, you will warn potential home buyers about the risks of buying a home governed by a Home Owners Association.  We hope our case can inspire other homeowners to stand up and inspire reform. There are thousands of other stories regarding lawsuit abuse from Home Owners Associations like ours, and we don't want anyone else to go through what we have.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to getting through this.  I'll keep you updated via this page as the story unwinds.   And finally, I am developing a website that documents the frivolous lawsuit and false evidence that resulted in the current Malicious Prosecution action.

Also, if you would like to read about the Malicious Prosecution action, I started a gripe site about the bullying law firm at youngandharos.com .  Yes, this law firm did not even buy its own domain name.  Evil - yes.  Bright - no.

Donations

  • Jake Miller 
    • $10 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $10 
    • 6 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • Susan Y 
    • $100 
    • 6 mos

Organizer

Michael Glassic 
Organizer
Pocono Summit, PA
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