Homeowners association president files $10 million defamation suit against resident

GALVESTON - A local homeowners association president alleges he is the focal point of certain false statements made by another resident and has filed a $10 million lawsuit. 

In recent court papers filed Nov. 29 in Galveston County District Court, Seascape Owners Association president Ron Benotti accuses Richard Alan Collier of making defamatory remarks and emailing them to numerous individuals.

The suit alleges Collier wrongfully labeled Benotti as "arrogant," "incompetent," "dishonest," "unethical" and "harassing."

Things the defendant said included that the plaintiff mishandled a beach nourishment dune restoration project, acted unethically and illegally with no regard to the association's bylaws or state laws and engaged in character assassination and a "personal vendetta" against him, according to the original petition.

Benotti points out that in the emails Collier "negligently or maliciously" stated the plaintiff committed election fraud; spied on Collier and his family, friends and business associates; and blamed the respondent for lying and financially misleading the homeowners association.

"The defendant intentionally or recklessly made statements that created a high degree of risk of harm yet deliberately proceeded to act with conscious disregard or indifference to the risk," the suit says.

Benotti insists he has incurred substantial loss of his reputation and has suffered severe emotional distress.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Cris A. Rasco with The Rasco Law Firm in Texas City is representing the plaintiff, and Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-CV-2972

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