Two Firms Accused of $26 Million Mistake

, Daily Business Review


Two major Florida law firms—Holland & Knight and Broad and Cassel—are targets of a $26 million malpractice lawsuit alleging they made serious errors in drafting a lease.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 13 in Hillsborough Circuit Court by Miami attorney Warren Trazenfeld on behalf of Don Wallace, the former owner of what’s billed as the world’s largest recreational vehicle dealership, Lazy Days R.V. Center in Seffner.

The suit alleges Wallace lost out on $10 million in tenant improvements and $16 million in lease payments due to errors made by the law firms in drafting a ground lease with an option to purchase.

Both firms denied the allegations, some of which date back to 1999 when the original contract was written. It was amended in 2006.

Trazenfeld’s suit does not name individual lawyers as defendants.

Wallace, his late brother and his father opened Lazy Days R.V. Center in 1976 with $500 and two travel trailers. Over the years, the dealership and campgrounds grew to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue, attracting 1 million visitors a year.

In 1999, the Wallace family sold the RV empire to Pennsylvania-based Alliance Holdings. As part of the deal, the Wallaces’ holding company, I-4 Land Holdings Ltd. Co., entered into a ground lease with a purchase option for the 140-acre property.

Wallace hired Holland & Knight and Miami partner Bruce Jay Colan to handle the drafting. The ground lease was amended in 2006 by Broad and Cassel and its attorney Chris Green.

In May 2011, the option to purchase was exercised. That’s when Trazenfeld said the Wallace family discovered the lease and contract errors.

The negligence complaint said the contracts neglected to include rental income from the date the option was exercised through the closing, amounting to about $16 million. They also failed to include valuation for tenant improvements valued at $10 million.

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