Posted on Friday, November 19, 2010
A state appeals court on Wednesday reversed a trial court order forcing a developer to fork over a portion of deposits by 15 condo purchasers who sued when their luxury lofts on Sunny Isles Beach weren’t completed on time.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal found Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Adrien incorrectly ordered developer Joseph Milton and his company to repay deposits above 15 percent of the purchase prices.
Miami attorney Robert Cooper represents all 15 purchasers, who sued St. Tropez on the Bay and Wachovia Bank in 2009. The developer refused refunds, pointing to a contract clause allowing it to keep some or all deposits if investors pulled out.
Adrien sided with purchasers, ordered the developer to return a quarter of each deposit and allowed purchasers to continue fighting for the rest.
Appellate Judges Angel Cortiñas, Leslie Rothenberg and Frank Shepherd portrayed the order as a summary judgment in all but name — despite ongoing issues of fact that would prevent a summary judgment ruling.
Nolan K. Klein, an associate at Robert P. Frankel & Associates who represented the developer and bank, celebrated the victory.
"It goes to show the language in our contract does not violate federal law. We’re entitled to an evidentiary hearing," he said.
Cooper said he plans to file a motion for rehearing.
Jose Pagliery Daily Business Review