But soon after, Schleifer tangled with some of the worst of what condos have to offer, her attorney, Peter Wallis of Pompano Beach, said.
“I can tell you there is certainly a class of condo people who simply just want to be difficult with everyone else,’’ Wallis said. “I think they’re invariably referred to as ‘condo commandos.’ ”
Exhibit “A’’ in the case is a notice Schleifer says was posted on a bulletin board at Ventnor. It alerted residents that she had a dog, that dogs were not allowed, and that the condo “sought legal representation’’ to fight her.
It called out Schleifer by name, and said her dog barked and disturbed neighbors. Then it warned that if a lawsuit were necessary, “we will spend our association’s money (all owners money)’’ on the suit.
She said seeing the notice was “like a knife in my heart.’’
The attorney Ventnor hired, Patrick J. Murphy of Deerfield Beach, sent her a letter demanding that she pay the condo’s $16,752 legal fees, and threatened to file a lien against her condo. His letter threatened a lawsuit, county documents say. Those acts were among the things considered “coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering’’ with Schleifer’s exercising of her federal legal rights.
Later, Murphy failed to sit down for mediation, according to county documents, which moved the case to litigation.
Murphy declined to comment Thursday.
William Lourenso, who was condo president when the discrimination and retaliation were alleged to have occurred, said Thursday he had no idea the matter wasn’t settled long ago. He said the condo followed Murphy’s guidance, and that in fighting Schleifer he thought he was doing his duty. He said the legal tab is now $24,000. Schleifer’s 63 neighbors were assessed to pay the bill.
“We had our bylaws and it didn’t allow dogs,’’ Lourenso said. “She took it upon herself to bring the dog in. Then she came up with the doctor’s note. … Anybody can get a doctor’s note these days.’’