Jason Savino’s “Potions In Motion” Is Suing Seven Bridges Delray HOA For Defamation.
LEGAL RESPONSE: Board Of Directors Has Obligation To Discuss Allegations Of Financial, Business Wrongdoing That Affects Homeowners.
Read The Police Report, Lawsuit, Filings … Dismissal Hearing Set For October.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — An employee of the catering company running the Seven Bridges community restaurant allegedly broke into a management office to steal documents about the company’s replacement. Jason Savino’s “Potions in Motion” is now suing the Seven Bridges HOA for defamation after directors publicly discussed that allegation, and others, with community members.
Savino’s company was originally contracted by GL Homes — the builder of Seven Bridges in West Delray Beach — to run the small restaurant for the community’s 701 families. GL Homes entered into the agreement with Savino in 2017. The Seven Bridges Homeowners Association inherited the agreement when it took control of the community in 2019. By 2020, the Board of Directors alleged that Savino and Potions in Motion were not abiding by financial disclosure obligations and opted to not renew the contract.
Potions in Motion owner Jason Savino, well known in South Florida, is not accused of criminal wrongdoing. But in a police report filed in 2020, an employee of Savino’s company is accused of breaking into a management office in the Seven Bridges club house and taking documents about the company that ultimately replaced Potions in Motion. This is the PBSO incident report obtained by BocaNewsNow.com:
Savino and the Seven Bridges HOA entered into a mutual non-disparagement agreement when Savino’s contract was not renewed. But in his suit, Savino claims that the current Seven Bridges Board of Directors violated that agreement when members publicly stated in a community email that Potions in Motion would likely never be rehired due to “past business practices.” He is suing for defamation. Attorneys for Seven Bridges say caselaw is clear: a Board of Directors has an obligation to tell homeowners about allegations of impropriety.
From Savino’s filing:
“Thereafter, on or about July 13, 2021, and in reference to comments or questions
made to the Association regarding entering into a new contract or otherwise bringing Plaintiffs
back to serve as the restaurant operator for the community, SEVEN BRIDGES composed and
published additional defamatory statements via email to all of the unit owners and members of
the Association, stating the following:
WOULD OUR BOARD CONSIDER BRINGING BACK POTIONS IN MOTION?
We have heard many comments suggesting that we bring back Potions in Motion
as our restaurant operator. Suffice it to say that their past business practices and
behavior has not been consistent with the high standards set by the previous board
or this board for all vendors that we deal with. Accordingly, should there be a
need to explore other opportunities, Potions in Motion will not be considered by
this board or likely by any future board.”
Homeowners Threaten Subsequent Restaurant Operators, Force Angelo Elia To Make Nachos.
The issue is a hot issue in Seven Bridges, where a small but vocal group of homeowners is lobbying for Savino’s company to return. Since his initial departure, the HOA has moved through two restaurant operators– both only lasting short periods of time. Both operators, according to multiple reports, were subjected to aggressive residents who physically and verbally harassed workers while complaining about food quality and pricing. Most recently, Celebrity Chef Angelo Elia — who has built an empire of Italian restaurants in high-end markets — was criticized by those who said his food is “too Italian.”
The complainers, largely transplants from New York and New Jersey, demanded a more generic menu. Angelo Elia was reduced to offering nachos in Seven Bridges.
Labor Day Incident Leads Angelo Elia To Close, Leave.
The food downgrade lasted just weeks until an incident on Labor Day when a Seven Bridges homeowner, apparently upset over the amount of time it was taking for her order to be delivered, became verbally and physically abusive. The woman is accused of “stalking” restaurant workers, following them through the facility and into the kitchen. According to those familiar with the incident, the woman repeatedly told Angelo Elia’s staff that they should “pack up and leave” because “Jason Savino is coming back.”
Elia closed the restaurant and ended his contract with Seven Bridges days later.
An attorney for the alleged perpetrator told BocaNewsNow.com that she was unaware of both the incident and discussions suggesting the incident could lead to a criminal or civil complaint. We are withholding the accused’s name.
The Seven Bridges Homeowners Association, already facing a federal lawsuit over alleged discrimination, is set to ask a judge in October to dismiss Savino’s suit. At issue for a Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge: is it defamatory for a board of directors to discuss allegations of vendor wrongdoing, or exactly what a board of directors is expected to do?
Read the complete lawsuit, below, followed by the response written by attorneys for the Seven Bridges HOA. If the documents do not appear, access through this link. Court filings are public information.
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