Condo association accused of detaining couple in their home over COVID-19

Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — After testing positive for COVID-19, a Boca Raton couple alleges that their condo association detained them in their home against their will.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday, Steven and Nancy Iscowitz, who own a condo at Palmetto Place at Mizner Park, claim the association deactivated their key fobs, preventing them from accessing the building’s common areas, in order to confine their movements after the couple tested positive for COVID-19 in July.

The couple is seeking damages in excess of $30,000 for false improvement, invasion of privacy and negligence, among other charges. The Iscowitzes claim the association threatened to have them “removed from the building and/or arrested” if they left their condo without permission. Additionally, the Iscowitzs claim the association violated their trust by publicly disclosing their positive tests.

“What they really can’t do is take my client’s health information and discriminate them — and use their private health information to my client’s disadvantage to use the things they’re legally entitled to use,” said Jeffrey Kominsky, the couple’s attorney. “

“It’s clear [the association] gave no notice to my clients the association was going to turn off my client’s fobs.”

According to the lawsuit, both Steven and Nancy Iscowitz tested positive for COVID-19 on July 12. The same day, the condominium association sent a letter to all residents asking anyone to alert the building if they tested positive for COVID-19. “Under no circumstance will your identity or unit number ever be disclosed,” property manager Leiann Dodd said in the letter.

Dodd declined to the speak to the South Florida Sun Sentinel about the issue.

After disclosing their positive test, the Iscowitzes said they received a letter from the association three days later, telling them they were barred from entering any of the building’s common spaces and shouldn’t leave their unit unless it was medically necessary.

The association threatened to contact authorities if the couple left the premises, the lawsuit claims. The Iscowitzes were told they would need to present negative COVID-19 tests before being allowed to use the building’s facilities.

Soon after, the couple alleges their key fobs were turned off without their permission, preventing them moving within the property.

The tension between the two sides continued to escalate in the coming days. According to the lawsuit, the condominium association emailed its residents on July 16, saying the the pool and fitness centers would be closed because “two residents ... refused to comply with the building’s request to quarantine and provide a negative test before utilizing the common areas.”

The association then filed a civil complaint against the couple, referring to Steven and Nancy Iscowitz by name.

“The association early on represented to (the Iscowitzes) that their health information would be protected,” Kominsky said. “And that clearly did not happen here.

“And as a result, when you live in a condominium, there’s an expectation that people learn things and unfortunately my clients relied on the fact that the association was going to keep their health information from outside the public world and that didn’t happen.”