WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Holland & Knight partner Rick Hutchison successfully defended the developer and related companies including The Tarragon Corporation in a lawsuit brought by plaintiff Philip Maas that challenged the manner in which most condominium developers in South Florida measure and market the size of their condominium units. The trial before Broward County Circuit Court Judge John B. Bowman concluded on January 13th with the issuance of the Court's opinion.
The issue during the trial was whether the developer's practice of measuring from the outside walls to halfway through the common walls when calculating the "living space" of units to advertise was misleading or false. Maas, who purchased a unit in the prestigious Las Olas River House condominium development in downtown Ft. Lauderdale in 2005, claimed that the developer's brochure overstated the square footage of his unit. Hutchison, a litigator in Holland & Knight's West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale offices, argued that there were no misrepresentations, that the developer followed the standard industry practice for measuring and marketing condominiums units, and that Maas received exactly what he contracted for.
As Hutchison explained, "The developer's practice of measuring from the outside walls to halfway through the common walls when calculating the square footage of units to advertise is similar to how town homes are measured and marketed. In fact, the measurements of single family homes also include exterior walls. Developers have been using those methods of measuring "living space" for over 30 years. We are very pleased that our clients prevailed in this lawsuit. Had the decision been reversed, it would have had a devastating impact on developers. And in this real estate market, that is the last thing the economy needs."
Not only was it a complete victory for the developer and the other defendants, Hutchison said, "The defendants are entitled to their attorneys' fees and costs and will be seeking over $600,000 in fees and costs from Maas."
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