Ex-Marine loses court case over his flagpole
Posted: March 29, 2003
Article Courtesy of the
By Peter Franceschina 

George Andres, the Jupiter man who has been battling his homeowners association over his 12-foot flagpole, could lose his house after a judge ruled Friday that the association can force him into a foreclosure sale to collect legal fees.

The 66-year-old former Marine was unbowed, vowing to continue the fight to display his patriotism all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We are going to keep fighting it," Andres said. "People protest about what is going on in this world, and I protest with my flag up, saying this is a beautiful thing. All the people should be flying flags. The guys over there [in Iraq] are fighting for the freedom this flag gives the people of this country."

The Indian Creek Phase 3B Homeowners Association permits flags flown only from wall brackets attached to homes,
and its members

Hoisting Old Glory
George Andres, who’s in dispute with his homeowners association, has received support from Broward County veterans who want to stage a Veterans Day ceremony at his home.
the dispute is over the flagpole. But Andres, a retired electrician, said he has a constitutional right to fly the flag from the pole.

Friday's ruling is the latest development in the saga, which dates back more than three years and has involved multiple court cases and judges.

Andres lost the main case in the dispute, when the homeowners association sued him. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson ruled in October 2000 that Andres had to remove the pole, and she later fined him $7,400 -- $100 a day for every day he violated her order.

An appeals court agreed with Brunson that Andres had to remove the pole, but so far he has been defiant.

In a separate court case, the association filed a $21,000 lien against his home for legal fees and sought to foreclose on it to collect.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill designed to alleviate Andres' legal troubles, and Gov. Jeb Bush signed it into law.

It allows people to fly a removable American flag "in a respectful manner" regardless of homeowners association rules. On Flag Day last year, Bush delivered an American flag to Andres that had flown over the Capitol and helped him raise it on the controversial pole, amid applause from neighbors.

The new law was made retroactive, so it would apply to Andres, but it was passed long after the lien was filed in October 2000, after the homeowners association won its case.

Chief Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Edward Fine ruled Friday in the foreclosure case, saying that the homeowners association could go forward with the foreclosure, despite the new law.

Fine had to determine whether the new law trumped the association's victory in the earlier court case. He ruled that it did not, because the association had a vested right to collect its costs as part of the judgment.

Boca Raton attorney Barry Silver, who represents Andres, said he will ask Fine to hold off issuing the foreclosure order so the case can be appealed. That appeal might not be filed if Andres is required to post a bond, which typically is required to guarantee payment by a losing party who takes the case to a higher court. Andres said he couldn't afford to post a $21,000 bond.

Silver said there always has been a risk that Andres would lose his home.

"It's simply something we cannot tolerate, especially at this time when our nation is at war. We will continue to fight," Silver said. "I am very, very optimistic that we will prevail in the end. The court system will eventually right this wrong."

West Palm Beach attorney Steven Selz, who represents the association, said board members are willing to negotiate a compromise to settle the dispute and not force Andres to lose his home.

"My client is more than willing to be reasonable," he said. "Everything is open to negotiation."

But Selz said Andres wants the association to pay his legal fees, which Andres said run about $90,000. Asked if he would be willing to settle the case, Andres replied, "Sure. My flag stays up, the law stays in and I get my money I spent."

Court ruling goes against veteran
By Bill Douthat
Article Courtesy of Palm Beach Post
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2003

WEST PALM BEACH -- A Jupiter veteran -- backed by the governor and state legislature -- fought his homeowners association for two years for the right to fly his American flag.

George Andres gets to keep his flag but may lose his house in the process.

Because of a state law enacted last year, Andres' flag is aloft outside his Jupiter home. But that doesn't absolve him of a $21,000 judgment won by the homeowners association before the law was enacted, a judge ruled Friday.

Circuit Judge Edward Fine said it doesn't matter if the law was made retroactive, it can't wipe out the court's ruling.

"If a legislative body can void already vested rights, then no judgment can ever be final, even if it is 20 or 50 years old," Fine wrote in his order. The judge said such a legal concept could void land titles, inheritances, divorces and criminal convictions.

Andres, a 66-year-old Marine Corps veteran, said he will appeal Fine's ruling. Meanwhile, his pole-mounted flag will stay put.

"As long as I can breathe it will fly," he said. "I'm not going to give up."

The ruling opens the way for the Indian Creek Phase III-B Homeowners Association to seek a court order to foreclose on Andres' home to collect money spent on legal expenses. 

"When our country is at war, it's unconscionable that a homeowners association would try to take away a veteran's home," said Barry Silver, Andres' attorney. 

The association doesn't want to foreclose but needs reimbursement of expenses and legal costs, association attorney Steven Selz said. 

Andres refused to negotiate a settlement before Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson ruled in August 2001 that the flagpole Andres installed on his front lawn violated homeowner restrictions, Selz said. 

The flag itself was never an issue, Selz said, because the association allows flags on brackets attached to homes. But Andres put a flagpole and light in the middle of his yard, Selz said.

The attorney questioned Andres' motives for erecting the flagpole, saying it went up soon after he was voted off the board of the homeowners association. 

Andres says his motives are purely patriotic. 

"That flag means my liberty," he said.

The veteran's fight brought Gov. Jeb Bush to Andres' front yard last summer to help him hoist the flag and donate $100 to his cause.

Two months earlier, the Florida Legislature had passed a bill to permit American flags to be displayed regardless of homeowner association rules.

By that time, the association had already won its case, which was confirmed on appeal. 

Andres hopes to keep a foreclosure ruling at bay until he's exhausted his court battles. 

A lien the association put on his home four years ago means he can't borrow money to fix his roof, but he says he's not giving up.

"I'm good to keep fighting," he said.

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