Miami Condo Manager Claims Retaliatory Firing
Daily Business Review
09 September 2016
Courvoisier Courts condominium at 701 Brickell Key Blvd, Miami
When Denise August was named property manager of the Courvoisier Courts
condominium in Miami's Brickell Key in 2014, she began tackling issues
plaguing the condo association: Reserves were depleted, an insurance
policy was due to expire, and the garage needed immediate repairs,
according to a complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
August was employed by KW Property Management & Consulting, a
Miami-based company that describes itself as one of the largest
high-rise property management providers in Florida.
Early in her tenure, August allegedly noticed suspicious activity
taking place at the posh 27-story tower at 701 Brickell Key Blvd.
When she reported violations to KW and the association's board, she was
met with "indifference and then hostility," according to the complaint
filed last year.
August claims the board had not maintained the legally required
reserves for a condo, and proceeds from a $750,000 special assessment
were used for unintended purposes, according to the complaint.
the garage had been deemed "extremely hazardous" by an engineer and lost its insurance coverage
The condo board didn't notify new buyers and tenants that the garage
had been deemed "extremely hazardous" by an engineer and lost its
insurance coverage, the complaint said. She also alleged insurance
fraud, closed-door board meetings, failure to promptly approve full
funding for garage repairs, delaying repair to a damaged generator and
keeping former tenants' deposit checks without legal justification.
Her objections led to her termination, prompting her lawsuit against
the company and condo association under the Florida Whistleblower's Act.
In the complaint filed May 2015, August alleged KW Property Management
LLC and Courvoisier Courts Condominium Association Inc. took
retaliatory action against her for objecting to the alleged violations
at the Brickell Key high-rise. She tacked on a count of tortious
interference against the association, which Courvoisier moved to
dismiss July 14.
KW general counsel Frank Simone said the company had "legitimate,
nonretaliatory reasons" for firing August. He said, "There were a lot
of things going on in [August's] life" at the time.
"We have claimed that she was terminated because she did bad work," the
Miami attorney said. "These are issues that are going to be ligated,
and a court will decide. There may be counterclaims brought against her
for things she did as well. We don't believe that KW did anything
she was fired for raising life-safety concerns about the garage and generator
Following her termination in January 2015, August also filed a
complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
saying she was fired for raising life-safety concerns about the garage
In a response to the OSHA complaint, Simone said the property and
equipment at issue is owned by Courvoisier Courts and controlled by its
board, not KW. He added, "There were no recognized workplace hazards
that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to
any KWPM employee."
"Among other things, [August] failed to execute directives including a
directive for the very remedial work complained of by claimant ..., was
rude to customers and coworkers, failed to follow procedure and
exhibited unprofessional conduct," he wrote.
Another battle is brewing against KW Property a few miles north. A
virtual petition asking the condo board to consider other management
firms when KW's contract expires this month has circulated at Venetia,
a tower on Biscayne Bay at 555 NE 15th St. in downtown Miami.
Created by a group dubbed the Concerned Homeowners of Venetia, the
petition has secured over 100 signatures. While there are over 300
units in the condo, over half are owned by absentee owners, said Lori
Durham, a 20-year resident.
We can never get anything done because nobody cares
"Excess of 100 people doing anything at Plaza Venetia is like having
the president kicked out of office," Durham said. "We can never get
anything done because nobody cares."
Residents have alleged mismanagement by KW personnel ranging from the
property manager's failure to pay property taxes on time, which has
resulted in late fees; failure to collect rent from a building-owned
rental unit for nearly a year; lack of attention to a number of
hazards; and poor customer service.
While no property management firm is "a dream come true," Durham said, "these people are a disaster."
Simone said Durham has filed numerous complaints with the Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation, yet the state
agency has never found any merit in her allegations.
"I am fortunate to have a lot of clients, and I get to observe a lot of
various corporate cultures," Simone said. "I can assure you that the
owners of [KW Property] are some of the most responsible and ethical
clients that I have ever represented. In the few instances in which
they have made a mistake, they have readily admitted to the same and
done everything possible to remedy the situation."
August is represented by Douglas Broeker, a managing member of the
Sweetapple, Broeker & Varkas Miami office. Broeker declined to
Adam Cervera, an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff in Miami, and
Robin Campbell, a partner with Kaplan Zeena in Miami, represent
Courvoisier. Both attorneys declined to comment.