Real Estate Company Wants Greenberg Traurig Suit Reinstated
A Hollywood real estate company seeking $10 million in damages from Greenberg Traurig for alleged malicious prosecution asked the Third District Court of Appeal on Monday to reverse a Miami-Dade circuit judge's dismissal of its claim.
Recognizing the tide of recent case law is not on its side, the attorney for American Federated Title Corp. also asked the court to consider certifying a question to the Florida Supreme Court in the hope of carving out an exception.
American Federated claims Moshe Lehrfield, a Greenberg attorney in Miami, acted in concert with a client, GFI Acquisitions and its related entities, to deliberately delay the scheduled closing on the sale of four apartment complexes in 2008. The closing never occurred.
GFI sued American Federated for fraud, claiming mortgage payoff restrictions were not disclosed and sought to recover its $2.6 million deposit.
The lawsuit started in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, but GFI had the litigation moved to its bankruptcy case in New York.
American Federated tried to prove it made all the proper disclosures during seven months of negotiations.
American Federated sought GFI's email correspondence through discovery. GFI's New York attorneys at Goldberg Weprin Finkel Goldstein insisted there was none until a GFI employee deposition revealed the company was deleting email. The bankruptcy judge threatened to dismiss the case. Suddenly, 10,000 emails were produced, and they ultimately proved American Federated was in the right. The bankruptcy judge sanctioned GFI and its New York attorneys.
The bankruptcy judge let American Federated keep the deposit and entered judgment in its favor for $7.5 million. But the GFI companies were without assets, and American Federated couldn't collect.
With the bankruptcy adjudicated, American Federated filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Greenberg.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marc Schumacher decided in 2011 that American Federated had no case because the bankruptcy court did not sanction Greenberg.