Owners call “Time Out” on Timeshare! Owners are calling out Celebration World Resort’s Timeshare deceptive practices. Yep—a deceptive practices class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of timeshare owners at Festiva’s Orlando Resort, formerly known as Celebration World Resort, alleging that the resort’s developers and managers have engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in the sale of timeshare upgrades and reservation point allocation.
The resort timeshare class action lawsuit, Reeves, et al. v. Zealandia Holding Company Inc., et al., cause no. 13-CA-866-MF, was filed March 1 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, in Osceola County.
Here’s the skinny: According to the class action lawsuit, beginning in 2004, approximately 900 parties purchased timeshare interests in Celebration World Resort Owners Association, located in Kissimmee, FL, from B.L. Vacation Ownership Inc. Between 2008 and 2011, representatives of B.L. Vacation Ownership sold upgrades to existing timeshare owners that would increase the number of points they had to apply to timeshare reservations.
After the homeowners purchased the upgrades, B.L. Vacations sold the resort to Festiva Hospitality Group, now known as Zealandia Holding Co., and the resort’s name was changed to Festiva’s Orlando Resort. After the sale, the lawsuit alleges, the reservation point system was changed and the upgrades that had been purchased by the timeshare owners were not honored. Nice.
The lawsuit names the Orlando Homeowners Association, B.L. Vacation Ownership Inc., Zealandia Holding Co. and its subsidiary and affiliate companies, and RCI LLC as defendants. The suit alleges that one or more of the defendants:
Violated the resort’s declaration of covenants by improperly reallocating reservation points
Violated the resort’s declaration of covenants for failing to give proper notice of the reallocation
Breached the fiduciary duty owed to the timeshare owners
Violated Section 721.18(5) of Florida’s timeshare law
So—be interesting to see how this is resolved…
Another Big Asbestos Settlement this week. A construction worker who, is not named, and who developed a highly aggressive cancer after his exposure to asbestos, has resolved his lawsuit against the defendant companies for $7.5 million prior to trial. The plaintiff brought suit against several of the companies that manufactured the materials. The defendants severally denied liability.
Heads up all you construction workers out there: In the 1970s and 1980s, the plaintiff was a construction worker helping install underground water and sewer lines beneath the Sacramento Valley city of Chico. His job involved working with pipes made from a concrete-asbestos compound, which he would cut with a gasoline-powered saw. The cutting generated an enormous amount of cement-asbestos dust, which left the plaintiff covered head to toe by the end of the day. The plaintiff was later diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, also rare except where attributable to asbestos exposure.
The plaintiff filed suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, seeking damages on a defective product liability action. The plaintiff sought recovery of medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic recovery. The defendants named were several companies who manufactured, sold or delivered the asbestos-containing pipes the plaintiff worked with, including Parex USA, Westburne Supply, John K. Bice Co., Los Angeles Rubber, Hajoca Corp., Hanson Permanente Cement, Keenan, Properties, J-M Manufacturing, Certainteed Corp., Ferguson Enterprises, Grinnell Corp., Amcord, Ameron International and Calportland.
One Ringy Dingy—for anyone out there who received pre-recorded messages from AT&T: There is a proposed Settlement in a class action pending in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. The class action lawsuit concerns the alleged failure by AT&T Corp. to comply with the law in its delivery of a pre-recorded telephone message between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012.
If you received the pre-recorded message during that time you may be eligible to receive a payment from the AT&T class action Settlement.
This lawsuit alleges that AT&T Corp. did not comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the Washington Automatic Dialing and Announcing Devices Act (“WADAD”) in its program to deliver the following pre-recorded message (the “Calling Program”) between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012:
“Hi this is AT&T calling with an important message regarding your recent long distance calling. This call is to alert you that someone in your household recently made one or more international calls which will appear on your next AT&T bill at a non-discounted rate. Thank you for using AT&T. Our number is 800-235-9920.”
No judgment has been made, and AT&T Corp. has not agreed with the allegations or admitted any wrongdoing, but the parties have agreed to resolve the lawsuit with a Settlement that would provide payment to Class Members.
Class Members in the Settlement are:
All persons within the United States who between July 30, 2008, and May 29, 2012 received a telephone call pursuant to the Calling Program who had not selected AT&T Corp. as their presubscribed long distance carrier at the time of the call, plus all California residents who received a call under the Calling Program and were on AT&T’s internal do-not-call list at the time they received the call.
If you are a member of the Settlement Class and received a pre-recorded message as identified above, you may be eligible to receive (a) a cash sum of $135 if you were NOT a resident of the State of Washington at the time you received the pre-recorded message, or (b) a cash sum of $270 if you were a resident of the State of Washington at the time you received the pre-recorded message.
The Court will determine whether to approve the Settlement at a Fairness Hearing scheduled to take place on March 8, 2013.
Ok—that’s a wrap. See you at the bar. Happy weekend everyone!
We’ve had a number of people ask us about real estate fees this week after our story entitled “Illegal California Real Estate Fees Costing Consumers” posted. One of the biggest questions everyone has is this: How do you know—or where do you find out—if you’ve either paid too much in real estate fees, or worse, have been charged a fee illegally?
Anyone who’s bought a home knows that last day—the day when everything is finalized and you get the keys to your new home—is a day fraught with both excitement and the overwhelming sense that you’re signing your life away. If you were completely lucid for even one small moment, you might remember that you signed a form that looked like this—it’s the HUD-1 Settlement Statement that every home buyer signs at the closing:
Unfortunately, while in the throes of signing all the paperwork, who has time to really read every line item? And that’s what’s at the heart of some recent real estate fee investigations in California—some attorneys are investigating potentially illegal real estate fees that homeowners may have paid—without even realizing it—at their closing.
How do you know if you paid any illegal closing costs? Well, it’s best to have an attorney look at your HUD-1 form—you probably have that along with your title and any mortgage documents. But the first place to look on the HUD-1 if you have it, is on page 2 (see image below), under the section called “Title Charges”. Some of the real estate fee investigations have been focusing on things like exorbitant messenger fees. The HUD-1 will also show whether your homeowner’s insurance company is charging more than it is allowed to charge by law.
So, particularly if you bought a home in California, take a look at your HUD-1 form—and if you find anything that you don’t understand or think is questionable, reach out to a California consumer fraud attorney.
Thinking of Martha Stewart Gustavian Blue for your home’s exterior reno? Think again. Like that stamped cement driveway you saw on your trip to the northeast? Forget it. Husband travelling and you’re left to ensure the trash cans are tucked out of sight—pronto!—after the garbage truck sweeps by? Get moving. And don’t let me see those kids using sidewalk chalk out front!
Such is the life, apparently, of many a homeowner living within the confines, constraints and—some would say—convoluted constructs of an HOA, or homeowners’ association.
Used to be some odd symbol of “belonging”—or for some, status—to be a part of an HOA (no trailer trash here!) neighborhood. What with all the cookie cutter neatness, lack of individuality and security gates, it’s the facade of a picture perfect community. And a mere facade it’s seemingly become for some folks in Nevada—with a rather ugly behind-the-scenes picture.
An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal shares what basically boils down to a case of schoolyard bullying—only the playground is now the development, and the bullies are the HOA boards. Those who feel they’ve been bullied (e.g., one homeowner was unjustly fined for the transgression of erecting a fence for which the HOA had previously approved the plans) have now joined voices, if not forces, to rally last Monday against HOA “bully boards”. They’re mad as hell and they want the folks in Carson City to do something about it.
According to the Review-Journal, the rallying homeowners are looking for legislators to, “introduce laws that would cap the amount of HOA fines and collection agency fees, eliminate “kangaroo courts” run by homeowners association boards and limit the mandatory arbitration requirement.”
At issue is Nevada Revised Statute 116—the state law that governs HOA boards. Rally organizer, Jonathan Friedrich, says in the Review-Journal article that 85 percent of decisions in mandatory arbitration go against the homeowner—which obviously brings into question exactly how these decisions are being made.
Friedrich has gone as far as to set up a grassroots website, www.hoa1234.com, to get the word out on the lack of transparency—and honesty—he and his rally mates see in how HOA boards apply rules and penalties. And it goes beyond just current Nevada homeowners—Friedrich and others are quick to point out that HOA bully boards do not exactly serve as an advertisement for prospective home buyers to want to lay down roots in Nevada. Friedrich even notes in the Review-Journal, “It’s interesting that on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), Realtors are advertising, ‘No HOA.’ What does that tell you?”
We’ll continue to keep an eye on this story as Nevada may just turn out to be ground zero for upcoming HOA-related litigation, and hopefully, change for the better.