November 20, 2004
Fear stalks Florida
A Florida homebuilder is creating a what seems to be a reign of terror through the Sunshine State—by suing customers for breach of contract.
"I'm afraid to talk to my neighbors. I'm afraid to walk my daughter to the bus stop. I'm afraid to talk to you right now," said one victim who was sued by Mercedes Homes, Inc., after she distributed flyers to neighbors complaining about poor home construction. A clause in the Mercedes contract prohibits owners from publicly disparaging the workmanship.
"I feel like I'm in a police state. I can't do anything. I have no avenues. I have nowhere to turn," one homeowner said. The last, at least, is an overstatement, since she was at the moment turning to a TV news reporter and meditating a class action lawsuit.
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This is truly worrisome. I fear that if Mercedes Homes is allowed to quietly ursurp unsuspecting new home buyers of their first amendment rights this trend may in fact pick up with other new home builders. My brother-in-law signed a contract a month before this story broke. I asked him if he was aware of this provision in his contract. He said they went over it quickly stating, "Initial here, this just says you won't picket in front of our offices." The salesperson certainly didn't express to him he was waiving his right to free speach concerning his home. Most people, even very disgruntled people, won't go so far as to picket. But they will voice their opioions to family, friends, and neighbors! This type of boldnes on the part of new home builders dosen't appear stop there. With all of the money flowing in from the recent years of low interst rates and initiatives to promote home ownership, they seem to have become drunken with power and greed and have forgotten who in fact butters their ever crusting bread!
Posted by: Inspector12 | Jan 27, 2005 7:10:28 AM