Monday, February 14, 2011

LaBelle Tenants Claim AIDS Discrimination

Landlord Tries To Get New Lease - Tenants Refuse And Sue

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry county property owner Debra Jean Thornburg has been sued by tenants Todd Amidon and William A. Hanes over a dispute about repairs made to a rental house at 610 South Riverview in LaBelle, rent owed, and claims by the tenants that they have been discriminated against when Amidon's medical condition of AIDS was discovered by the landlord.

Amidon disclosed to a reporter for the Caloosa Belle that he had AIDS, as reported in a story published last week, but ironically is suing Thornburg in part, because she may have found out about his disease when he applied for federal financial assistance for AIDS victims through the Hendry Health Department last October.

Reportedly, Amidon said that across the top of a form to be signed by a landlord are the letters "HOPWA" which he claims would alert his landlord, a health department employee, to his health condition.

Trace Pfluge of LaBelle Tropic Realty, according to the two, asked them to sign a new lease on December 22, but they refused.

On December 31, owner Thornburg sent a certified letter and delivered a notice posted on the house notifying the duo that she was not going to renew their oral lease and they were asked to move by January 15th. Amidon and Hanes had an oral agreement since August for $200 per month to be deducted from the $450 monthly rent if they would make repairs to the house.

The two claim in their answer to an eviction suit filed that they paid "rent for month on January 15th" and are current and no payment is due until February 15th.

They also claim, and filed suit against Thornburg in a separate action, that they repaired and wanted credit for fixing a broken hose spigot for $290 at $75 an hour, $796 for painting a porch at $30 an hour, cleaning the house for $1025 at $30 an hour, laying carpet for $75 at $30 an hour, and tiling a bathroom for $2335 @ $30 an hour.

Amidon says he filed against the landlord in a discrimination complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations on December 30th as well.

William A. Hanes - No Stranger To The Court System

35-year old Hanes, a part of two law suits with landlord Thornburg, also is suing LaBelle resident David Snow for $2499.95 in Hendry small claims court. Hanes claims loss of use, damages, and theft of a 1984 Buick by Snow in August of 2009. Hanes brought suit against Snow in December of 2010. A trial is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 16th in LaBelle.

Hanes also will be in court at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15th on a case against him by the State of Florida for insurance fraud. Hanes was arrested June 15, 2009. Hanes admitted to fraudulently receiving $15,349.29 from State Farm Insurance in 2008. A 3rd degree felony, Hanes agreed to pay restitution to State Farm and $645.37 to Florida's Financial Fraud Division, and court costs and fees of about $500, payable at no less than $400 a month.

If Hanes kept his end of the March 26, 2010 contract in the court's Pre-Trial Diversion Program, the case would be dismissed. Hanes, however is charged now with not completing the program. Included in the agreement were drug and alcohol testing and treatment, and community service.

He'll be before the Circuit Judge Tuesday afternoon in a case management hearing. The landlord/tenant case will be settled at a court hearing on February 28th at 9 a.m.


February 28 - Judge Sloan continued the case, allowing the landlord to file an amended case, after she could not produce a signed notice of non-renewal of lease delivered to the tenants. Attorney Jim Luckey was hired by the landlord to represent her in court. The judge told the tenants only two weeks notice would be required of a landlord under an oral lease. It would appear the two tenants will gain about another month at the property.

February 16 - Hanes won an award of about $2500 from defendant Snow. Snow had sold Hane's car believing it belonged to someone else and was abandoned in his yard.

February 15 - Hanes' case against him by the State of Florida was continued for another case management hearing March 31.


  1. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Mr. Brown,

    Will you be doing a follow up article on the results of the recent trials?

  2. Hanes won an approximate $2500 award from defendant Snow at trial this week. Snow had sold a car Hanes owned as scrap thinking it belonged to someone else. Hanes recovered the car later which had damage to it.