Courtesy of the Miami Herald
Friday, May 13, 2005
The residents of a high rise condominium on Miami Beach,
who were forced to evacuate April 14 after building officials declared it
structurally unsafe, have filed a class action lawsuit against three members of
the condo board.
The suit, brought by resident and attorney Elizabeth
Martialay, was filed this week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Martialay alleges that the three members of the board --
Leopoldo Gonzalez, Emilio Berkowitz and Horacio Mecozzia -- knew of the
building's mounting problems and ignored them.
The three board members own 150 of the 540 units at Castle
Beach Condominiums, 5445 Collins Ave.
According to the suit, the three ``knew about numerous
code violations and failed to remedy them despite demand from the city of Miami
Their negligence, Martialay said in the suit, has forced
hundreds of residents to ''remain liable for maintenance, assessments, taxes and
mortgage obligations'' on units they are not allowed to visit without first
making an appointment.
Michael Gongora, the attorney representing the three board
members, said his clients ``deny many of the allegations contained in the
He also questioned the need for a class action suit since
many of the same allegations have already been raised in a separate lawsuit
filed by another unit owner.
Building officials ordered the evacuation after finding
electrical wiring defects they say made the structure unsafe. The short notice
prompted an outcry from resident but city officials said the building had had a
growing list of violations over the past two years.