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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 […]

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 […]