Wasted Money: Plantation’s Botched Lawsuit Cost Taxpayers At Least $427k





There is clearly something wrong in Plantation City Hall.

The City spent– probably a better word is “wasted” — $427,002.09 on a lawsuit and then failed to offer testimony or evidence to prove its case.

The two-year-old law suit involved Mayor Diane Veltri-Bendekovic and the City Commission’s seemingly endless quest to stop a huge holiday display at a home in Plantation Acres. City Hall wanted Circuit Judge Marina Garcia-Wood to shut it down.

The judge ruled the spectacle, featuring 200,000 lights and numerous holiday figures, could continue.

For some reason the attraction, which has been featured on national television, got under the skin of Veltri-Bendekovic and city commissioners.  They tried to stop it using code enforcement and even shut the street leading to the home of Mark Hyatt, who hosted the display.

How much those actions cost taxpayers is anybody’s guess.

Finally, the city sued Hyatt in 2014.

The city argued that the attraction was a nuisance, tying up traffic and threating public safety.

Yet Plantation’s attorney Harris Solomon did not present testimony to prove his case, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

“Simply, there was no testimony or evidence that the Hyatts utilize their property in such a way that results on injury … of the city or to its residents,” Judge Garcia-Wood wrote in her ruling.



Circuit Judge Marina Garcia-Wood


Garcia-Wood’s ruled that the city never presented testimony from unhappy neighbors or proved there was an accumulation of trash after the event, the Sun-Sentinel wrote.


I’m no lawyer. As a layman, it seems logical to me that the first witnesses put on the stand would be angry neighbors.

Presumably, Plantation could find witnesses who would testify about the negative impact of thousands of visitors on their neighborhood. If the city couldn’t find such witnesses, why the lawsuit?

One neighbor did testify, but she didn’t back up Plantation’s story. Just the opposite.

This neighbor told Garcia-Wood that she liked the holiday display!

She said that the city caused all the neighborhood problems by blocking the road to thwart those seeking to see the attraction, Channel 10 News wrote on its website.

Hyatt told the Sun-Sentinel the suit was “a waste of taxpayer money” and “proves again fiscal irresponsibility. ”

Remember that the $427,002.09 is just the start.

Hyatt’s attorney might ask that the city pay his fees, although Hyatt told WSVN Channel 7 that he wouldn’t request reimbursement. Of course, there is the costs of a potential appeal.

All this money thrown away comes at the same time Plantation is asking voters to approve $60 million in public safety, public works and parks bonds.

Voters have a chance to strike back at the wasteful spending on the futile lawsuit.

Hyatt is running in the November election against incumbent Commissioner Chris Zimmerman.

Hyatt said Zimmerman voted to institute the botched lawsuit and promises to spend taxpayer money on more necessary services in the future.


11 Responses to “Wasted Money: Plantation’s Botched Lawsuit Cost Taxpayers At Least $427k”

  1. As an aside says:

    How screwey are politics in this town when the Judge still uses the last name of an ex husband (Wood) when she is currently married to Judge Carlos Rodrogiez.

  2. Rico Petrocelli says:

    Buddy, I have shared your Article to my Facebook because it is True. I spoke before the Council this past June, after I had to show them the costs to that date, and it was $178.000.00. That was the 1st time, they never asked for costs!

    The Mayor and council had the opportunity to re-evaluate the Lawsuit then, but chose not to. In the defense of council, they NEVER actually voted to approve of deny this. They continued to say” We can’t talk about the Lawsuit, until it’s over”.. City Attorney Lunny, (No Bid Contract for 40 Years) was advising them. Of course he was, he was being the “Rainmaker” for his firm, and now the cost escalated to $427k, AND we LOST!

    Mayor Bendekovic, in her Vendetta against the Hyatt’s used her Strong Mayor Powers to bring in the Police, Code Enforcement, Public Works (New NO Parking signs) on Hiatus. Clearly an Abuse of Power, and the council sat quietly, even after I gave them the real #s from a Public Records Request.

    Councilman Zimmerman, at a recent Forum, said he was in favor of sending this City Attorney job “OUT for BID”..Let’s see if that Happens too…

    This coming Wednesday’s Council Meeting should be interesting. BTW: Lisa Huriasch wrote a great article, and Updates. I know you two are friends..

    Rico Petrocelli
    Plantation Councilman 2005-2009

  3. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    More harassment of private citizens by public officials in South Florida using public money n publuc employees n tge neespapers n so called Reformers do nothing.

  4. Susan says:

    to: As an aside says:
    October 28th, 2016 at 9:43 am
    hey Aside, step aside and get a life, maybe she keeps her name because of her CHILDREN you dumbo

  5. Anonymous says:

    Plantation government is out of step with the community. Taxes have continuously gone up with no increase in services. Vote out any do nothing raise taxes at any cost incumbent like “Dr” Levy, Zimmerman and Jacobs.

  6. Tony Conigliaro says:

    Hey Rico…why didn’t you offer to lead the legal team? You should be the city’s attorney…even though you’re not clearly the city was misled by their attorney. If you cant trust your consultants, you fire them!

  7. Jeffrey Krantz says:

    There are reasons to sue & not to Sue – this was a no-logical attempt at changing a wonderful event from happening. Shame on them

  8. Zowie says:

    How did the lawyer run up the meter to over $400K on a code violation case? Is anybody checking the bills?

  9. Hyatt Family says:

    In 2012 Newly Elected Mayor of Plantation together with her Puppet of a City Council have received tremendous negative public outcry regarding their actions taken against a 20 Year Beloved Holiday Display. Here is just a sampling of the letters that Residents and Visitors sent to our City Officials. There is just not enough space on the website to post them all.


    This November 2016 is an Election Year & there are 3 City Council Members up for Re-Election. We ask every Plantation Resident to go to the polls & VOTE them all out of office! They are mere Puppets of the current Mayor, too scared to speak up on behalf of the Plantation Residents that voted them in office!

  10. Resident says:

    Has anyone considered that the city is the voice for neighbors that don’t want to be named. Judging by the childish name-calling that I see on every post regarding this matter, I would not want to stand up publicly. I have spoken to people who would rather NOT have this Display in their neighborhood. It is an inconvenience to many. Do the Hyatts carry liability insurance on this event? I do not think my taxes should be paying for anything that has to do with an individual residents “Holiday Display” and party. I am all for free speech, and the freedom to celebrate the religion of our choice. But isn’t it a little out of hand when exercising that freedom in such an “extreme” way infringes on the rights of others?

  11. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I feel bad for the people that live near them. I heard you can’t even get down the street. Planation should have had records form police reports etc. For the judge to state I see no proof that this property w/ all its lights, glitter, caused a nuisance. I mean you try to get home at night Judge. Half a million dollars . I hope the Hyatts are happy. Who are they doing this all for ? Is what the real story is. National news, contests, magazine covers. Plus he’s running for comm. seat. Well sir, the city just spent almost a half mill, going up against u. Counter-productive. Save the city money, not cost them Santa there.. And your light show..Neighbors want to get even w/ them show gay porn during there light show. That will get them. Scoobie Doo, followed by Kenny does the football team…..