Cohen Norris Law Firm Wins Settlement for Residents of The Pines of Delray North
North Palm Beach, FL (October 29, 2019) – The Cohen Norris Law Firm is pleased to announce that on October 23, 2019, the Honorable Cymonie Rowe, Judge in and for the 15th Judicial Circuit, entered a final order accepting and ratifying the Class Action Settlement in favor of their client, Richard Kerski, the class plaintiff. Mr. Kerski’s perseverance and commitment brought justice to for almost 300 class members in the Class Action case KERSKI v. THE PINES OF DELRAY NORTH ASSOCIATION, INC.. Mr. Kerski, an Owner in PODNA, and also a seasoned Broker and Realtor with more than 3 decades of experience, identified and objected to the illegal charges. After failed efforts to have the Association voluntarily cease collecting the illegal fees, Mr. Kerski engaged attorney and partner Jonathan A. Berkowitz of Cohen Norris to prosecute the class action and stated “I am thrilled with the spectacular result achieved by Cohen Norris in obtaining this victory and justice for all class members.”
“I am thrilled with the spectacular result achieved by Cohen Norris in obtaining this victory and justice for all class members.” Richard Kerski, Owner in PODNA
The Class Action Settlement provided reimbursement to Class Members that were illegally charged a $2,000 “transfer fee”. Additionally, Class Members will each be reimbursed 5% annual interest for the illegal fees collected by the Association from 2013 through 2018. The Class Action was commenced in April of 2018 and was extensively litigated. The Class Action sought Declaratory and Supplemental Relief, Injunctive Relief and Damages based upon the Association’s violations of Florida Statutes which prohibit illegal and excessive transfer fees such as the “Ownership Fees” and “Working Capital Fees” levied by the Association in instances such as during the sale or transfer of a unit. The Association was also ordered to pay all related costs and attorneys’ fees.
The Florida Condominium Act prohibits Associations from charging fees of more than $100 a person or married couple to buy, lease or transfer a condo unit, but many Associations do, and unfortunately unsuspecting or uninformed Florida tenants pay the fee. The $100 fee is mandated to include the cost of interviews, background checks, and credit reports, etc.. Since 2018, Associations have been subject to a potential $5,000 fine for charging inflated fees, but it seems to have little effect on deterrence of these practices. This Class Action won by Cohen Norris will serve as a warning to associations charging illegal fees to fatten their accounts that they need to curb such practices or face the consequences.
Jonathan A. Berkowitz, Esq., as Lead Class Counsel, and his team were the Cohen Norris Attorneys representing the Plaintiff and the Class A and Class B Members in the case. Charging high or unwarranted fees is a common problem at condos and HOAs in Florida. The attorneys hope their win in this case will encourage those who suspect their Association might be on the wrong side of the law and charging inflated, improper or illegal fees to come forward.
About Cohen Norris: Founded in 1990, the Firm is a recognized leader in complex real estate and commercial transactions and related business litigation. From the purchase and sale of single-family residences to large land and income producing commercial transactions, the Firm’s Real Estate division handles virtually all aspects of residential, commercial and industrial real estate transactions. Cohen Norris attorneys represent developers, builders, lending institutions, title companies, associations and real estate brokers in transactions that include: land use planning; developments of regional impact approvals; impact statement preparation; financing; ad valorem taxation; contract negotiating; zoning approvals; concurrency issues; due diligence reviews; environmental compliance; leasing; transactional closings and document preparation; protecting associations by drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts; providing strategic analysis; and consistently exceeding the expectations of our clients, ethically, competently, expeditiously and cost-effectively.