During his investigation and impeachment, President Bill Clinton once famously stated that the accuracy of the answer he provided “depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” While such fine distinctions may seem foreign to many people, lawyers and others who deal with contracts know that victory or defeat in a contract dispute can sometimes come down the smallest of linguistic details. In a recent dispute between a Southwest Florida condo association and an LLC that owned several units, the case came down to the 2d District Court of Appeal‘s accepting the owner’s interpretation of the word “a” over that offered by the association.
The property at issue was a condominium outside Naples. The condominium had 94 units, 38 of which were owned by The Retreat at Port of the Islands, LLC. Retreat ran its units as a resort hotel. In March 2014, the Port of the Islands Resort Hotel Condominium Association, Inc. held an election for three of the five seats on its board of directors. Three of the managing members of Retreat ran for the board seats. Although the three Retreat members secured the highest vote totals, the condo association declared that only one of them could serve on the board.