Clearwater, Florida (July 27, 2010) – A Tampa Bay couple learned this week that a Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge awarded them attorneys’ fees and costs totaling over $187,000 in a lawsuit filed against them by their homeowners association. The homeowners, A.J. and Doree Vizzi, were sued by The Eagles Master Association which tried to prevent them from parking their pickup truck in their driveway – something they had done for 9 years before the lawsuit was filed.
Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Martha J. Cook ruled in favor of the Vizzis in December, 2008, and the association appealed. The appeals court also ruled in favor of the Vizzis in March of this year. In her most recent ruling, Judge Cook said that the association will have to pay $187,443.37 in attorneys’ fees and costs spent by the Vizzis in defending the lawsuit.
Attorney Daniel Anderson, of the law firm Anderson Law Group, represented the Vizzi’s. He said the he and his law firm spent over 700 hours defending the case, which “never should have been filed in the first place.” Anderson said, “this case is a horror story about what happens when a homeowners association decides to sue one of its homeowners and then pursues the case to the bitter end.” “Fortunately, the Vizzis had the resources to defend themselves, but many people do not,” Anderson added. “We hope the Florida Legislature looks closely at this case and puts limits in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening to other homeowners in the future,” Anderson concluded.
Anderson said he does not yet know whether the association will again appeal the ruling, but that he hopes the association will “finally give up” and “leave the Vizzis alone.” According to Anderson, the association will have incurred over $300,000 in legal fees and costs after paying the Vizzis the amount awarded by the Court. “The saddest part about all of this,” Anderson said, “is that the other homeowners will wind up paying the bill.” Anderson said the Vizzis regretted the impact on their neighbors, but had no choice in the matter other than to “cave” to the demands of the association. “A.J. and Doree Vizzi are my heroes,” Anderson said. “They remind us all that it is possible to stand up for what we believe in, and win,” he concluded.