OCEAN PINES – Former board member Tom Janasek has filed suit against the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors seeking relief against the enforcement of a 90-day amenity ban.
In June, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors voted 5-2, with Directors Doug Parks and Rick Farr opposed, to ban Janasek from the Yacht Club, Golf Clubhouse and Beach Club for a total of 90 days following an altercation between the former board member and Director Josette Wheatley at the Yacht Club Tiki Bar.
Since that time, however, Janasek has filed suit in Worcester County Circuit Court seeking declaratory judgement and injunctive relief. The lawsuit asserts that the ban violates the association’s governing documents.
“Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court make a determination and declare … that the reported ‘ban’: violates the OPA governing documents; is not authorized by any provision of OPA governing documents; is not consistent with or authorized by any property adopted OPA rules or regulations’ is beyond the scope of the Board’s authority/power; violates and contravenes Plaintiff’s property rights and interests, as contractually and legally established in the OPA governing documents; is arbitrary and capricious; and is motivated by personal animus and ill will toward Plaintiff,” the complaint reads.
The board’s decision to ban Janasek from food and beverage amenities resulted from an altercation between Janasek and Wheatley on the evening of May 20. While at the Yacht Club Tiki Bar, Janasek reportedly launched into a verbal tirade over Wheatley’s vote to elect the next association president.
“Mr. Janasek stood over her and began yelling loudly at her because she did not vote for Doug Parks as President for their Board of Directors,” a police report of the incident reads.
Janasek was ultimately escorted from the property, and Wheatley has since obtained a peace order preventing Janasek from contacting her for a period of six months.
As a result of the incident, however, the board voted in June to ban Janasek from food and beverage operations for a period of 90 days beginning June 10.
“Our governing documents do give us the authority to provide for the safety at our amenities, not only for members of the association but anyone who comes to our amenities,” Director Larry Perrone said at the time. “And while there are some contradictions in the bylaws, the bylaws clearly state that we have a right and obligation to provide for safety at our amenities.”
President Colette Horn agreed with the decision.
“I think our governing documents falls short of this situation and I realize by stretching the limits of our governing documents we will be able to provide some kind of immediate relief from the risk that is there for Director Wheatley and other directors on this board that may be targeted, or members of the community who may be targeted,” she said at time.
A lawsuit filed last week – which names the association and board members Horn, Perrone, Frank Daly and Amy Peck as defendants – outlines the series of events that led to Janasek’s resignation from the board and board members’ alleged animosity toward him.
The complaint also asserts the ban violated the association’s governing documents. While the governing documents authorize facility managers and the general manager (GM) to restrict use for violating rules and regulations, the complaint states the board is only authorized to suspend amenity and facility use based on nonpayment of association fees and violations of OPA covenants.
“The manager of OPA bar and restaurant facilities is Matt Ortt Companies (MOC) …,” the complaint reads. “MOC has not taken any action to suspend Plaintiff’s use of OPA facilities under its management, including those referenced in the June 10 Notice Letter. The OPA GM did not take any action to suspend Plaintff’s use of any OPA amenities; the purported ‘ban’ was imposed by the OPA Board. And, indeed, the OPA GM could not take any action to suspend Plaintiff’s use of OPA amenities, because Plaintiff has not violated any ‘rules, regulations or policies of the Association.’”
The complaint also contends that the ban also prohibits Janasek from conducting his business. As an independent contractor for AC Beverage, Janasek services bar equipment at OPA food and beverage facilities.
“In imposing the wrongful and knowingly unauthorized ‘ban,’ Defendents intended to interfere with Plaintiff’s business/contractual relationship with AC Beverage and/or fully understood that such interference would result from the purported ‘ban,’” the complaint reads. “As a result, Plaintiff has suffered and is continuing to suffer monetary losses and other harm.”
Ultimately, the complaint seeks declaratory judgement from the court and a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the ban, as well as less than $75,000 in damages.
A preliminary injunction hearing, originally scheduled for June 29, has been postponed to Aug. 25. And temporary restraining order, which prohibits the board from enforcing the ban until the court rules on the preliminary injunction, has also been extended.
“Our position in the case is that the Board majority does not have the power to impose the ban that they have attempted to impose, and that they took this action arbitrarily, without precedent, knowing full well they were acting outside the scope of their power and the OPA governing documents,” Bruce Bright, Janasek’s attorney, said in a statement this week. “Although an unspecified amount of damages are being sought including for the Defendants’ knowing interference with Mr. Janasek’s work at the OPA venues, the main objective of this case is to obtain a judicial order striking down the improper ban.
He continued, “This is important not only for Mr. Janasek, but for any other member, including those who may be critics or political opponents of the Board majority, who might be targeted this way. As for the altercation between Mr. Janasek and Ms. Wheatley, a Peace Order was entered with Mr. Janasek’s cooperation and agreement, which ensures no contact between them (he is not interested in having any contact); and law enforcement appropriately has not intervened in the matter, despite Ms. Wheatley’s attempt to get law enforcement involved. The matter would be over but for the Board majority’s unfounded action.”
Horn, Perrone, Daly and Peck all declined to comment on pending legal matters. Janasek did not return requests for comment this week.