Donald Trump May Head To Broward Court Over Failed Tower

, Daily Business Review

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Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld refused efforts Thursday by Donald Trump and condominium investors suing him to throw out the other side's case.

If a disagreement over an expert witness is resolved in time, the celebrity New York entrepreneur would face a jury trial Feb. 13.

Trump is fighting an $8 million lawsuit brought by the investors who paid deposits on units in a 24-story oceanfront building once known as the Trump International Hotel & Tower. The Fort Lauderdale property sold last month for $115 million to a Conrad Hilton company.

The Trump tower was to have been a mixed-use hotel and condo tower. Although nearly completed, the tower was never finished, and the investors sued to recover their money.

The plaintiffs allege Trump, who licensed his name to appear on the building, led them to believe he was developer. Based on their reliance on Trump's involvement, the investors claim they were fraudulently misled.

Trump attorney Herman Russomanno III of Russomanno & Borrello in Miami argued the investors' case should be dismissed, insisting out-of-state investors could not benefit from Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Streitfeld disagreed.

He also turned down plaintiffs attorney Joe Altschul's motion to dismiss counterclaims.

The only major sticking point was whether an expert witness offered by Altschul was acceptable to two plaintiffs represented by Jared Beck of Beck & Lee. Altschul is representing 81 investors.

The parties are to return Feb. 7 for a hearing on the expert witness and other issues. If these are resolved, jury selection begins Feb. 13. Otherwise, trial could be delayed until August.

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