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Dallas Homeowners' Association Turned Off Man's Sprinklers, Threatened Gunplay, According to Strange Lawsuit

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At a condominium near Turtle Creek, there is a bitter, strange battle brewing between the building's homeowners' association and the domestic partner of one of the HOA's members. In January, the 3081 Gilbert Homeowners' Association felt so threatened by the man, they filed a lawsuit.

The court filings start out innocently enough, if a bit snooty. The couple lived together in a condo on Gilbert Avenue for years, but only one of the men is listed as owning the property, the HOA explains in its petition, reducing his partner to undesirable non-HOA member status: "Ken Ray is not an owner of [the unit] under current Texas law and is, therefore, not a member of the Association."

That wouldn't be an issue, according to the petition the HOA filed, if the non-member resident in question wasn't going around being a jerk to all the legitimate HOA members: "Ken Ray ... has no right to challenge the actions of the Board."

The HOA's suit is vague about how all this fighting got started. It's also not clear if the man is breaking any regular, non-HOA rules. The HOA does say that they once called the cops on him, but the don't really specify why or explain what happened after the cops came. According to the HOA's version of events, the guy sends profane emails and verbally harasses people, and that's why he needs to change his ways or leave:

Ken Ray's conduct has included, but is not limited to: (i) sending profane and vulgar email communications to the Board of Directors and to the Managing Agent; (ii) use of verbal and written threats and intimidation; (iii) making false accusations about members of the Board of Directors; (iv) generally engaging in harassing conduct directed to the Board and to the Managing Agent; and (v) exhibiting a continuous argumentative behavior toward the Board of Directors and the Managing Agent. On one occasion, the threats and intimidation of Ken Ray prompted certain Board members to call 911 for assistance from the Dallas Police Department. The Board of Directors have determined that Ken Ray's conduct constitutes a nuisance.

But the resulting counterclaim filed by Ken Ray's partner Bruce Echols tells a different story. According to him, the HOA is run by insane people.

This all goes back to a leak, circa-2008, Echols claims. Needless to say, Echols found that the HOA took a really long time to fix that leak. He did some research and somehow discovered that the company the HOA was hiring to fix its leaks was run by the daughter of an HOA boardmember. After learning this, Echols says in his claim, he requested a bunch of financial documents from the board. And that, according to Echol's version of events, is when the crazy retaliation began.

Here is a list of some of the passive-aggressive and regular-aggressive things Echols says his HOA did to him after he requested their financials:

  • "Indirect threat of use of a firearm."
  • "Threats made to workers hired by Counter-Plaintiff [Echols] to replace their air conditioning unit as well as attempts to block the workers from replacing the unit."
  • "Purposely turning off the sprinklers for Counter-Plaintiff's unit, causing damage and loss to Counter-Plaintiff's landscaping."
  • "Purposely wiring the front gate phone entry to ring the management company instead of Counter-Plaintiff's unit."
  • "Threats of removing Counter-Plaintiff's 'guest' Ken Ray"
  • "Not allowing Counter-Plaintiff to bring in his own contractors to make the necessary and proper repairs to correct the continued leaking problem."

The stress from not having the repairs fixed, Echols says, is what inspired his partner to send the profane emails. What exactly did the offending emails say? It's not attached as an exhibit in the lawsuit, so it's hard to be certain. A deposition of HOA boardmember Ted Harlin offers this paraphrased version of an email:

In an email, he told me I was a flake. And this was due to the fact that Bruce was not elected to be back on the board I think is what spurred it on, I guess. But all of a sudden, I became a flake and various other name-calling, asshole, mother-F, jerk.

So far, the number listed online for the HOA has rang and rang when I tried calling, and their attorney hasn't yet responded to a voicemail message. The suit is still pending in Dallas civil court.

Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.

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