Defamation Suit Against This Coral Gables Attorney Dismissed

, Daily Business Review

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Steven Carlyle Cronig
Steven Carlyle Cronig

A defamation lawsuit between two rivals over a $21.5 million Brickell Avenue property has been voluntarily dismissed.

Colombian real estate investor Jorge Arevalo filed the suit in August in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Coral Gables attorney Steve Cronig. Arevalo claimed Cronig squeezed him out of a deal for the 33,927-square-foot parcel once owned by failed Miami developer Renzo Renzi.

A stipulation was filed Feb. 10 to note the lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed. Each agreed to bear its own legal fees and costs.

Arevalo was seeking a role with a company that successfully bid for the Brickell property. He claimed Cronig made false and defamatory statements that kept him out of the deal.

Russian mining magnate Oleg Baybakov was identified in the lawsuit as the money behind Watson Investigations LLC, the company that purchased the 33,927-square-foot Brickell site at the corner of Southeast Eighth Street and First Avenue. State corporate records list Cronig as Watson's manager and registered agent.

There was bad blood between Cronig and Arevalo long before the Brickell deal closed in July.

Cronig represented a residential condominium association that sued Arevalo for alleged mismanagement of the One Bal Harbour resort property. The association claimed Arevelo looted the finances of One Bal Harbour.

"I am pleased the plaintiff dismissed the case. No money was paid to the plaintiff, and I'm happy to move on," said Cronig, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson.

Attorney Joseph DeMaria, a Tew Cardenas partner representing Arevalo, said, "I will not comment on any of the details of the resolution of the case other than to say that Mr. Arevalo is very pleased with the resolution."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard A. Mark in Miami last month approved the $13.4 million sale of One Bal Harbour to the association represented by Cronig. Mark, however, would not discharge a derivative civil suit against Arevelo brought by the association.

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