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Couple sues Pine Ridge board, accusing libel, election flaws

A dispute between residents and board members of the Pine Ridge Service Corp. entered the legal arena Tuesday.

Residents Edward and Barbara Johnson sued Pine Ridge Service Corp., saying Pine Ridge's board of directors was elected illegally, and that it libeled and wrongfully kept Edward Johnson from being elected to the board.

The Johnsons want a judge to bar the board from making decisions for the residents of Pine Ridge Estates.

"The current board of directors is invalid and illegal, and is without the authority to act upon any matter relative to the association and the subdivision," says the lawsuit, filed in circuit court.

The board has come under fire from residents in recent weeks for trying to bypass its bylaws and approve $650,000 in new recreational facilities without letting property owners vote on the proposal. The bylaws require the full membership to vote on any expenditure of more than $50,000.

Pine Ridge homeowners association president Harvey Gerber apologized to residents at an Oct. 23 meeting and said the board will follow the bylaws.

But according to the Johnsons' lawsuit, the board was illegally elected, and therefore, cannot make decisions for the subdivision. The board sent a notice to residents that the Johnsons contend hurt Edward Johnson's reputation by implying he was not qualified to serve as a director, the lawsuit says. The board also provided Johnson with a mailing list with incomplete and inaccurate members' addresses to prevent him from sending election notices to other members, the lawsuit says.

The Johnsons' attorney, Karen Gaffney, did not return a phone message late Tuesday. Gerber, the board president, could not be reached for comment.

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