They Sure Wish They Could Shut Schutt’s Mouth

guest blog by Nila Ridings
Bad actors in HOAs never want to be exposed.  They’re like termites, living in dark places, scurrying and hiding when light hits them.  The big difference is: Exterminators can get termites out of your life.  Board members and property managers…well, they’re not so easy.
With eighty-one years of life experiences, Jim Schutt feels he’s a pretty good judge of character.  And he has a keen sense of smell for all things rotten. When he openly expressed his concerns about his own HOA, the Fiddlers Creek Homeowners Association in Naples, Florida, he was hit with a SLAPP lawsuit. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. And some HOA officers are learning to use them against any homeowner who criticizes them.
Theoretically, Americans have the right of free expression and free speech. Yet, some HOAs and property managers use lawsuits to keep critics silent as if their mouths were wired shut and their tongues cut out.  Why not criticize your HOA, if your criticism is 100% true and provable in court? Being dragged through court should not cost you your life savings. 
81 year old Jim Schutt took that risk and got hit with a SLAPP lawsuit. So even if he wins the suit, he will lose. In Jim’s case, the HOA Developer is using neighborhood dues to shut Schutt up. 
If I were the judge and the law allowed me, I would level the playing field.  If Jim Schutt is found to be telling the truth I would reimburse him 100% of his legal fees plus double that amount for his pain and suffering.  And for his bravery.
And that my friends, could possibly put an end to HOA SLAPP lawsuits. Just one case with a ruling like that could set the precedent, at least in Florida. Maybe Jim Schutt’s case is the one?

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

5 thoughts on “They Sure Wish They Could Shut Schutt’s Mouth

  1. Alexis

    It appears to me that this site doesnt load in a Motorola Droid. Are other folks getting the exact same issue? I like this webpage and dont want to have to skip it when Im away from my computer.

  2. Nila Ridings

    It pops right up on my T-Mobile Android. Have you contacted your carrier? This is the first time I’ve heard of anyone having a problem accessing the website. I’m like you, I don’t want to miss any stories on here. Good luck!

  3. Nila Ridings


    I an not aware of the outcome of the case. If you are in Collier County you should be able to visit the court records and read the details if they are not available on line. Each state has different restricitions on how records can be accessed. If you are out of state you could try caling their court clerk and inquire about having them copy and mail you the final court rulings. Expect a fee to apply. This is what I found for the petition:

    I also found this with what I believe could be his phone number:Who is James Schutt – (239) 732-5492 – Naples – FL –

    Feel free to share whatever you learn here in these comments. Others appreciate knowing the outcome of cases, We are just not equipped to provide follow-ups on all of them. Thank you!


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