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The Miami Herald


$91M awarded in Batchelor case


$91M awarded in Batchelor case

BY ELINOR J. BRECHER ebrecher@MiamiHerald.com A Circuit Court jury in Miami decided on Monday that the accounting firm BDO Seidman should pay the late philanthropist/aviation pioneer George Batchelor’s estate and foundation $91 million for “fraudulently” concealing false information about a company in which Batchelor had invested. The award consists of $55 million in punitive and $36 million in compensatory damages. Steven Thomas of the Venice, Calif., firm Thomas, Alexander & Forrester, is lead Batchelor attorney. He said he thought that the punitive damage award was so hefty because “BDO, right up to the end, denied it had a public duty — and public is literally their middle name: CPA.” A […]

Miami Lakes mayor’s e-mail list can remain private


Miami Lakes mayor’s e-mail list can remain private

BY LAURA ISENSEE lisensee@MiamiHerald.com The town of Miami Lakes does not have to disclose the e-mail distribution list used by Mayor Michael Pizzi, according to a Miami-Dade circuit judge who ruled last week that the addresses are not public record. Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley issued a ruling from the bench Friday, addressing two dueling lawsuits filed by Lakes residents that sought to either force the city to turn over the e-mail addresses or to withhold them out of privacy concerns. Under Florida law, residents can inspect government records, unless the information — such as Social Security numbers — is exempt. In one suit, two residents wanted to keep their e-mail […]

An $11 Million Deal + No-Show = Lawsuit


An $11 Million Deal + No-Show = Lawsuit

BY JOAN FLEISCHMAN Raquel Woolin has been trying to unload her Miami Beach estate for years, especially after her mil- lionaire husband’s 2002 suicide. She asked $14.9 million. Finally, Woolin found a buyer: California developer Richard Meruelo, who signed a contract to buy the 2.35-acre property for $10.95 million. Meruelo flew to Miami for the July 29 closing – but Woolin was a no-show, he says. Meruelo, 40, just sued Woolin, 59, in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Woolin “breached the parties’ agree- ment by . . . making it clear . . . that she was reneging on the sale,’’ says the complaint, filed by attorney Dorta Law. Meruelo, who put […]

Miami Herald calls Alvarez Renta verdict a milestone – DominicanToday.com


Miami Herald calls Alvarez Renta verdict a milestone – DominicanToday.com

ANALYSIS – Victory against Latin bank fraud marks milestone A Dominican government legal victory in Miami sparks questions about banking justice in Latin America BY JANE BUSSEY – jbussey@herald.com The Dominican government’s victory in a Miami courtroom earlier this week over one of the Caribbean nation’s most powerful financiers was a milestone in bringing the alleged architects of the country’s 2003 banking crisis to justice. But a bigger question for Latin America is whether the judgment against Dominican business executive Luís Alvarez Renta will set a precedent in a region frequently roiled by banking and fraud crises. Bankers, lawyers and financial analysts concur that the verdict in the civil case […]

Developers Cashing in Unfairly, Home Buyers Say


Developers Cashing in Unfairly, Home Buyers Say

BY MATTHEW HAGGMAN Zoilo C. Nieto plunked down a $209,000 deposit in May for a $1.04 million condo unit at Trump Pal- ace with visions of a sleek new residence to go with his plans to expand his language school busi- ness into South Florida. But weeks later, after assurances the unit was his, the 42-year-old from New Jersey claims he was told the Sunny Isles Beach condo was sold to someone else for more money. Last week, he sued the developer, Dezer Development, charging fraud and unfair trade practices, among several allegations. He is seeking either to get the condo or to get back his money with inter- est […]

Miami-Dade Jury Orders Ford to Pay Hurt Girl $15.4 Million


Miami-Dade Jury Orders Ford to Pay Hurt Girl $15.4 Million

BY ELAINE DE VALLE AND JAY WEAVER A Miami-Dade County jury Thursday ordered Ford Motor Company to pay a $15.4 million award to a young girl who suffered paralysis and severe brain damage in a rollover van accident during her fam- ily’s trip to Disney World two years ago. Mary “Phoebe’’ Jimenez, 12, and her parents won the judgment after the jury found Ford liable for improperly installing the air valve on the right-rear Goodyear tire of the family’s rented Econoline E-350 van. The tire exploded as the family was leaving Jacksonville for Orlando on May 9, 1999, causing the new van to roll over on Interstate 95, the jury […]

In the Courtroom, Historic Political Battle Attracts Hordes of Lawyers Large, Small Names Join The Fray


In the Courtroom, Historic Political Battle Attracts Hordes of Lawyers Large, Small Names Join The Fray

BY ELINOR J. BRECHER Wherever a Florida “pregnant chad’’ labors, it seems there’s a lawyer standing by to deliver. Florida hasn’t endured an esquire invasion of such magnitude since the last American Bar Associa- tion convention at Disney World in August 1996. If it feels like the state’s post-election frenzy has sucked in all 972,900 American attorneys, plus Florida’s 50,000, that’s because some of the profession’s biggest names are busily filing briefs along- side indigenous counselors known mainly to their local clients. A few on the Democratic side: Harvard Law School constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe; former Miami-Dade U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, who represented Elian Gonzalez’s Miami relatives; past Dade County […]

200 Residents File Suit Over Blasting


200 Residents File Suit Over Blasting

BY IVETTE M. YEE Angry residents in Northwest Dade have had enough of blasting. Citizens Against Blasting, a group of more than 200 homeowners, announced Wednesday that it will file a class action lawsuit against Rinker Materials Corp. and six other companies over the effects of blasting limestone in Northwest Miami-Dade County to produce building materials. Twenty-four hours later, another blast hit. “I thought it was an earthquake,’’ said Arlene Plumley, who lives in Palm Springs North. “It’s like they were angry at us for filing the suit, like they were trying to say, `Take that.’ ‘’ The group is seeking $22 million in damages, claiming the blasting has badly […]

Jury Awards $18M to Mom in Tragic Crash


Jury Awards $18M to Mom in Tragic Crash

BY DAVID LYONS Shaken by the case of a young mother who suffered severe brain damage after driving off a dark road and into a canal, a Miami-Dade jury has decided she and her son deserve nearly $18 million in what lawyers say is the largest award in memory for a negligence lawsuit. The tragedy unfolded in the early morning hours of July 5, 1993, when Aileen Aguiles, visiting South Florida from New Jersey, was returning to her mother’s Southwest Dade home with two friends shortly before dawn. They had celebrated the Fourth of July on South Beach. Unfamiliar with the route, her lawyers say, Aguiles failed to negotiate a […]