Most everyone is familiar with Disney World in Florida. Decades ago, Walt Disney spoke of creating a Utopian society called “Celebration Florida” where “the simple life” would be preserved not far from Magic Kingdom. In this community, every home and lawn would be freshly manicured, kids would play games that did not include sophisticated technology, and life itself would be carried out at a slower, more enjoyable pace. The dream had seemed to come to fruition, but in time serious real estate disputes were sparked between two groups that are still battling things out in court today.
A woman who worked for Disney in 1998 said she and her husband fell head-over-heels in love with the place when they first visited the community. They built a home there and convinced others to do the same. The woman eventually began selling real estate in a neighborhood where no one littered and school teachers never gave homework.
In 2016, however, the woman began writing about numerous negative issues that had arisen, which were threatening to ruin the Utopian lifestyle in the Florida community. She wrote of bankrupted businesses, school enrollments in grave decline, as well as buildings and homes that were basically falling apart due to lack of proper maintenance and repair. The woman and other residents filed a lawsuit against a New York real estate developer who was in control of the main business sector in the community.
The lawsuit alleged that the developer’s firm was bleeding residents dry and failing in his fiduciary duties, thus causing damages between $15 million and $20 million. From leaks that made people’s home uninhabitable to severe termite damage, plaintiffs claim that rotting beams, mold and other problems have caused their home values to plummet. The real estate disputes are now being litigated in several different cases. Those facing similar highly complex legal problems regarding private communities may wish to secure experienced legal representation before heading to court, as doing so typically increases the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.