Federal Judge, Weeks After Suggesting No Case, Now Says Discrimination Against Christian Homeowner May Be Inferred By Jury.
At Issue: Did Jewish Directors, HOA Members Discriminate Against Christian Homeowner?
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — In an about face from a ruling just weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks now says that a jury could reasonably infer that the Seven Bridges Homeowners Association discriminated against homeowner Deborah LaGrasso when it fined her $5,000 and then prohibited her and her family from using HOA amenities for a year.
The decision means the case is headed for trial. LaGrasso is suing the Seven Bridges HOA for $7M. While the judge sided with the HOA on a summary judgement motion last month, today’s decision reframes the significance of the previous ruling. Simply put: while many believed the May ruling meant it was game over for LaGrasso and her attorneys, the judge today said there’s a case and a jury should hear it.
Seven Bridges is a high-end, gated community off Lyons Road in West Delray Beach. Homes started in the $800’s and sold for more than $3M while the community was built and marketed by GL Homes. The final home was sold last year.
As we’ve reported multiple times: the ongoing lawsuit stems from allegations made by Seven Bridges Homeowner Deborah LaGrasso that several members of the Seven Bridges women’s tennis league verbally assaulted her children while playing tennis on the community’s tennis courts.
LaGrasso was accused of physically attacking one of the women, although there is no video evidence that proves whether or not a physical altercation took place. We published the video that does exist. The incident led to sanctions against LaGrasso by the HOA. Several months later, after LaGrasso is believed to have posted her opinions about the HOA on an anonymous Facebook page, LaGrasso and Seven Bridges homeowner Rachel Tannenholz allegedly made derogatory comments about the other on social media. The HOA once again sanctioned LaGrasso, including for writing anti-Semitic and derogatory comments online. When LaGrasso complained to the HOA about Tannenholz, however, the Board of Directors did not sanction her. Among the complaints allegedly ignored by the Board: LaGrasso’s claim that Tannenholz told her to move to a community that isn’t primarily Jewish.
The sanctions imposed: $5,000 and a year long ban from using amenities in the Seven Bridges community.
In his Friday ruling, which you can read in its entirety below, Judge Middlebrooks says “I am persuaded that this record, holistically, contains adequate circumstantial evidence to allow a jury to reasonably infer that Defendant (Seven Bridges HOA) discriminated against (the LaGrassos) in part due to the status as Christians, or at least as non-Jewish community members. As such, I find that summary judgment in favor of Defendant is not warranted with respect to Plaintiffs’ disparate treatment discrimination theory of Count 1. Accordingly, that claim shall proceed to trial.”
If the ruling does not appear, use this link for complete access. Use this link for access to our previous Seven Bridges coverage. We note that only one member of the Seven Bridges Board of Directors, in place at the time of the alleged discrimination, currently remains on the Board.SEVEN-BRIDGES-TRIAL
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