TAMPA – Disputes between condominium associations and the people who live there are nothing new. But here’s a notable decision for a Hillsborough County judge:
Should an older resident be instructed to stop feeding stray cats – an act that the housing association has found both annoying and annoying to its neighbors?
And should the woman, who is 78 years old and retired from the secretarial work, also have to pay her legal fees and costs?
This month a lawsuit was filed against Joan P. Hussey, a 22-year-old resident of the Tampa Racquet Club Condominium, an enclosed, mud-colored complex of more than 200 units west of the Dale Mabry Highway.
The association says Hussey broke the rules by attracting and feeding “stray cats / animals” in and around public areas of the complex. The suit does not indicate the number of cats or what other species of animals were allegedly fed.
“The continued presence of the stray cats can also lead to undesirable health problems for the surrounding neighbors and / or renters and unjustifiably damage the common elements of the association,” the lawsuit said.
But Hussey – the defendant in legal documents – says she only feeds one, a black and white cat she fixed years ago, and calls Cleo. She said she regularly gives Cleo a bowl of dry snacks under her car in the covered parking lot, then keeps the bowl and doesn’t feed other strays.
“I’m terribly surprised,” said Hussey. “I’ve had cats all my life and I do it respectfully.”
The housing association disagrees, claiming it continued to feed strays even after numerous requests to stop. The lawsuit was not her first legal action against her.
Last year, the Condo Association filed its case with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for arbitration. This process is required before this type of condo dispute can be brought to court.
But Hussey never responded to the request for arbitration. She later said she did not understand all of the attorney’s jargon in the papers she received. By default, an order was issued that she would no longer have to feed cats on the property.
Now the association wants a judge to issue an injunction asking them to stop and is also demanding reasonable attorney fees and expenses. The case has not been scheduled for a court date assigned to Judge Emily Peacock.
The Tampa Bay Times inquiries to the Tampa Racquet Club Condominium were forwarded to their attorney Stanford Rowe. Rowe made a statement saying that Hussey must comply with the umpire’s order.
“I go to bed at night and I can’t sleep thinking about this thing,” said Hussey.