BOCA RATON, Fla. – A lawsuit filed by a South Florida couple claims their condo association “falsely imprisoned” them in their one-bedroom, 890-square-foot unit after they disclosed that they had COVID-19 in July.
Steven and Nancy Iscowitz allege that the association and the management company conspired to keep them in their condominium by deactivating their keys that were needed to use elevators and enter common areas, such as the swimming pool and fitness center.
“Neither of you should leave your unit unless it is medically necessary,” the couple were told. If they did, the association Palmetto Place at Mizner Park threatened to have them arrested “for endangering the lives of building residents and staff,” according to the lawsuit.
The association sought an emergency injunction to keep the couple out of the common areas of the nine-story building. Judge Scott Kerner ruled against the association, concluding it was not proper for him to act on an emergency basis. The association withdrew its lawsuit July 27.
“Property owners deserve to be treated fairly,” said Jeffrey Kominsy of Boca Raton, the attorney for the Iscowitzes. “They expected that their private health information would be protected and respected. Instead, given their COVID-19 diagnosis, the evidence that I have seen strongly suggests that the condominium association treated my clients unjustly. We will continue to aggressively enforce our clients’ right as property owners until we attain the justice they deserve.”
Efforts to obtain comment from the condominium association and the management company, First Residential, were unsuccessful. In the legal action to seek the injunction, the association argued that the Iscowitzes repeatedly left their unit and interacted with staff and unit owners in the lobby, elevators, valet area and swimming pools.
Kominsky said his clients complied with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines at all times.
According to the lawsuit, the Iscowitzes began to exhibit symptoms on July 5. They were tested two days later and learned on July 12 that they had the coronavirus. The association had asked residents who tested positive to inform the management company but agreed not to disclose their identities – even to board members. Based on that assurance, the Iscowitzes say, they acknowledged they each had the virus on July 13.
Two days later, First Residential sent them a letter instructing that they should not be in stairwells, elevators, mailroom areas, or other common areas within the building. They were allowed to use the service elevator to see a doctor but were told they had to contact the front desk to make sure the elevator and building exit were empty.
Violating the order would result in the association removing them from the building, the management company said in its letter to the couple. The letter also demanded that they obtain a negative test result before leaving the building.
Without notice, their keys were deactivated on July 16 “as an emergency measure” to protect residents and staff. The lawsuit claims that the Iscowitzes were never told that such a drastic measure would be taken.
On July 17, the association filed its motion to seek an emergency temporary injunction against the Iscowitzes. The lawsuit identified the Iscowitzes along with their unit number. Kominsky claims the decision to identify them violated their privacy rights and ignored the association’s pledge not to identify anyone who disclosed they contracted the virus.
First Residential and the condominium association have not yet filed a legal response to the lawsuit.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Boca couple sue condo association for 'false imprisonment'