Car vs. Gate - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Car vs. Gate

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Michael Butterworth says his Infiniti sedan sustained damage after a security gate at a North Miami Beach condominium slammed shut on his car. Michael Butterworth says his Infiniti sedan sustained damage after a security gate at a North Miami Beach condominium slammed shut on his car.
WSVN -- -

Some people could care less about their cars. Some people love their cars.

Michael Butterworth: "It's a beautiful car, it rides very nice, very comfortable. I told you, if it had a shower and a bathroom, I'd move right in."

I think Michael is joking about living in his Infinity, but he clearly takes pride in it.

Michael Butterworth: "People like the car and I really love that car. It's my baby. I paid a lot of money for it, and I'm OK with that. I like the car."

Which makes what happened when he was leaving Jade Winds Condos in North Miami Beach so aggravating to him.

Michael Butterworth: "The gate opened, I went through. I got three quarters of the way through, and somehow the gate malfunctioned and closed on my vehicle, so I pulled over and saw the damage to my vehicle."

Michael then met with the condo manager, who said it was Michael's fault for trying to exit behind another car. But Michael says he was the only car leaving the property.

Michael Butterworth: "And I tried to explain what happened, and he wasn't hearing it. He was more like, 'Well, only one vehicle is allowed to go through the gate at a time,' and I explained to him I was the only vehicle going through the gate."

When Michael wouldn't give up, the condo manager told him to go get three estimates to repair the damage. They ranged from $400 to $475.

Michael Butterworth: "And I brought them back and he didn't even want to look at them, so it was like a total waste of my time and effort."

Michael tried wax, then compound to get scratches out. Didn't work, and trying to convince the condo manager they were responsible didn't work either.

Michael Butterworth: "He really wasn't hearing me. He listened but didn't hear me, or he heard me and didn't listen."

Whatever it was, it continued. A few days after we talked to Michael, another Jade Winds resident contacted us. Jimmy Vineitsky told us, as he was leaving the complex, the gate slammed shut on his car, nearly ripping off his side view mirror and scratching the car. The damage estimate: $805. Like Michael, he said the condo manager accused him of trying to follow another car out and refused to pay for the damage.

Michael Butterworth: "It's a real drag. Every time I go to open my vehicle I see that damage right there, and there is nothing I can do about it."

Don't give up just yet, Michael. So, Howard, you go through their gate and it closes on your car. Who has to pay to have the damage repaired?

Howard Finkelstein: "There is a legal term called 'res ipsa loquiter.' In other words, the thing speaks for itself, meaning the gates are supposed to open and close properly. When they don't and damage cars, the presumption at law is the association was negligent and therefore responsible."

We called the Jade Winds Condos' management company several times. They never returned our calls, and are still refusing to pay for the repairs for Michael and Jimmy, whose car was damaged a few days later.

Howard Finkelstein: "Michael and anyone else whose car was damaged by this gate has two options: file a claim with the association's insurance company or, since its less than $5,000 in damage, take them to small claims court. You don't need an attorney, and a case like this should be easy to win."

Michael and Jimmy will probably have to take them to court, because they believe the association has to pay for the damage their gate caused.

Michael Butterworth: "I paid a lot of money for that car, and I'd like them to stand up and do what they're supposed to do and be responsible."

It may take a judge to make them do it. Now, when Howard says, "Take them to small claims court," some people say, "I don't know how to do that," but it's easy, because it's designed for people without lawyers. You get a few forms to fill out, you tell the judge your side of the story, and the judge makes a decision, hopefully in your favor.

A small claim turning into a major problem for you? Wanna open up a path to a solution? Contact us. We don't have keys to gates, but legally we can bust through them. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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