Trump Tower Site in Tampa Sold at Foreclosure Sale

The lender for the proposed Trump Tower condominiums in Tampa, Florida, Colonial Bank, foreclosed on the site and sold the property at public auction on July 15, 2009. Colonial Bank is now looking to unload the site once designated for the $300 million Trump Tower Tampa. The entire article can be found here:

Just one of numerous “Trump Tower” projects to have failed in recent months. So much for the “Midas touch.”

More Trump Tower Purchasers Claim They Were Misled

Purchasers of preconstruction condo units at “Trump Tower” in Waikiki, Hawaii, have joined the chorus of purchasers claiming they were misled about Donald Trump’s involvement with the development of the project. Like the “Trump Tower” projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sunny Isles, Florida, and Baja, California (Mexico), Trump claims that he is not the developer, and that the real developer mrely had a licensing agreement for the use of the Trump name.

Sound familiar?

Judge won & a post dismiss suit against Trump, developers

From today’s Daily Business Review:

Judge won’t dismiss suit against Trump, developers

Polyana da Costa


Donald Trump and the developers of Fort Lauderdale’s Trump International Hotel have failed in their latest attempt to dodge a lawsuit by buyers seeking to recover more than $6 million in pre-construction deposits.

Broward Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein on Friday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Trump and developers SB Hotel Associates, Roy Stillman of New York-based Stillman Development International, and Bayrock Group. Trump argues he is not one of the project’s developers and only licensed his name for the marketing of the project.

Joseph E. Altschul, a Fort Lauderdale attorney representing the 41 buyers in the suit, said the judge on Friday countered Trump’s position by reading a brochure with Trump’s signature used to market the project. The brochure featured a photograph of Trump and reads, “It is with great pleasure that I present my latest development, Trump International Hotel and Tower-Fort Lauderdale.”

The buyers accuse Trump and the developers of false advertising, deceptive and unfair trade practices and breach of contract for not completing construction of the project.

Trump International Hotel broke ground in 2005 and has yet to open. Corus Construction Venture filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the project earlier this year after the developers defaulted on a $139 million mortgage loan. That suit is pending.

The developers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Donald Trump and the developers of Fort Lauderdale’s Trump International Hotel have failed in their latest attempt to dodge a $6 million lawsuit.

Judge dismisses Donald Trump & aposs lawsuit aimed at redirecting flights over his Palm Beach club

Judge dismisses Donald Trump’s lawsuit aimed at redirecting flights over his Palm Beach club

Trump plans to refile case against Palm Beach County

By Andy Reid, Sun Sentinel

11:06 PM EST, November 30, 2010

“The Donald” and his exclusive Palm Beach island club may just have to endure sharing airspace with Palm Beach International Airport.

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Marx has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit aimed at redirecting flights from the county airport that the real-estate-tycoon-turned-TV-star deemed too disruptive for his Mar-a-lago Club.

Trump’s suit, filed in July, targeted the noise from passing airplanes, saying they were affecting Mar-a-lago’s property values as well as the ability to use the historic property.

His suit sought to bar flights over Mar-a-lago, stop proposed airport expansion and even accused Airport Director Bruce Pelly of “intentional battery” for refusing to shift flight paths or make other changes to lessen the disruptions.

“It was very far reaching,” Assistant County Attorney Andrew McMahon said about Trump’s lawsuit. “The issue of whether it is a ‘battery’ is way out there.”

While the judge dismissed the suit, he did leave open the option for Trump to file an amended version within 20 days.

Trump’s attorney James Beasley said Trump will re-file and keep pushing for changes at the airport.

“The current way that the county has flights out of the airport is creating a nuisance,” Beasley said. “If you were ever at Mar-a-lago when an airplane is going over, you can’t talk.”

Trump’s suit already has prompted the county to spend about $50,000 on hiring outside attorneys. If the case continues, the county’s contract with the outside firm calls for up to $500,000 in additional costs.

“Depending on how far [the case] goes, it will be costly,” McMahon said.

Trump’s suit argued that noise, vibrations and emissions from a steady traffic of passing aircraft were damaging the structure and the enjoyment of the oceanfront estate, just 2.5 miles from the airport’s runway.

Mar-a-lago, which means “sea to lake,” stretches over 18 acres from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lake Worth Lagoon. The crescent-shaped stone building with a 75-foot tower was built as a home for Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1927.

Trump bought the property in 1985 and converted it to a private club in 1995. He still has residence there, according to the lawsuit.

Trump argues that the county has refused to impose more noise-control measures at the airport, such as having flights fan out in different directions on takeoff instead of following a primary route that passes over Mar-a-lago. The county could also split its landings and departures to the east and west when conditions allow, and encourage jets to reduce power at takeoff, according to the suit.

The lawsuit contends that Pelly “improperly influenced” the FAA and air traffic controls to direct flights over Mar-a-lago because of past litigation Trump filed against the airport.

“The county and Pelly have avoided and circumvented and flouted the laws designed to protect and preserve Mar-a-lago,” according to Trump’s lawsuit.

Judge Marx disagreed and dismissed the suit against the county and Pelly.

The county takes its direction on flight paths and future airport expansion from the FAA, McMahon said.

“We can’t tell them how to route the flights,” McMahon said.

Florida Appellate Court Hears Argument on Fraudulent Mortgage Documents

(From Daily Business Review)

Can homeowners reopen cases?

Adolfo Pesquera


Pressing for a Lake Worth homeowner’s right to expose alleged fraud by a bank, a foreclosure defense attorney argued before a state appeals court that Bank of New York Mellon cannot stop a trial judge from reopening a case that had been dismissed.

Oral arguments heard Wednesday looked at the cause of the bank’s voluntary dismissal of Roman Pino’s foreclosure case last year. Defense attorneys alleged a fraudulent assignment of mortgage was submitted to the Palm Beach Circuit Court by the Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation. After becoming suspicious of the paperwork, the defense scheduled depositions of the law firm’s employees.

On the eve of the scheduled depositions, the bank dropped the case, and no depositions took place. But five months later, the bank refiled its case against Pino.

Enrique Nieves III, an attorney with Ice Legal in Royal Palm Beach, told the 4th District Court of Appeal panel that the second lawsuit filed by the bank did not contain the questionable document originally submitted to show that the bank was the rightful lien holder.

Stern’s law firm is one of four under investigation by the Florida attorney general’s office, which issued subpoenas in search of improper documentation that may have been used to accelerate foreclosures in court.

Law firms defending homeowners have alleged lenders’ foreclosure lawyers have used a number of deceptions, including use of fraudulent assignments of mortgage, improper affidavits of indebtedness and so-called robo-signing, or rapid-fire signing of documents attesting to the accuracy of documents they never read.

‘The Grand Scheme’

In August 2009, Pino’s attorney asked Palm Beach Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser to strike the bank’s dismissal motion in the first case and conduct an evidentiary hearing to expose the alleged fraud. Sasser said she could not reopen a case that was voluntarily dismissed. Nieves appealed the judge’s ruling to the DCA.

In arguments before the appellate panel last week, BNY Mellon attorney Katherine Giddings with Akerman Senterfitt in Tallahassee denied any fraud took place. She asserted the homeowner must show fraud was central to the case in order to reopen it.

Moreover, she argued the homeowner had no right to reopen the first case because the bank did not benefit from the dismissal. Giddings indicated the only benefits anyone derived from the March 2009 dismissal were attorney fees paid to Ice Legal for prevailing and the reprieve Pino received to remain in the home.

“I’m urging you to consider this case in the grand scheme of things,” Giddings said. “If you allow courts to go back and open up all of these cases when it’s clear there was no affirmative relief [to the banks], then you’re going to create chaos.”

Judge Gary Farmer asked if Giddings was suggesting fraud was widespread.

“I’m not acknowledging that any fraud occurred,” she said.

“As a court system, why would we shrink, no matter how many cases it might involve, from looking out for attempts to defraud courts?” Farmer asked. “Why wouldn’t we be most vigilant?”

Right To Dismiss

Nieves argued that a key issue in favor of reversal at the trial court level was Judge Sasser’s reliance on case law that did not address a potential fraud upon the court. He cited a land dispute case that was reinstated to examine fraudulent documents.

In Pino’s foreclosure case, he said, “They’re basically using the [voluntary dismissal] rule to aid and abet their coverup.”

After the hearing, Nieves told the Daily Business Review that other judges have relied on Judge Sasser’s decision to avoid reopening cases where fraud may have occurred. Should the appellate court reverse and remand, the potential for reopening cases would be substantial.

Without attempting a rigorous search, Nieves said he found 21 cases like Pino’s where he claimed notary stamps were used to fraudulently back date an unrecorded assignment of mortgage.

Throughout Giddings’ arguments, the appellate judges interrupted her on a variety of issues.

When she asserted the bank got no relief by its voluntary dismissal, Judge Mark Polen said: “Your client did get relief. They didn’t have to submit to depositions.”

When she characterized the central issue as an absolute right to voluntarily dismiss, Polen said, “The issue as I see it is whether a court on subsequent information can strike that dismissal.”

Giddings insisted trial courts already had enough discretion without resorting to striking voluntary dismissals. Judges could sanction lawyers or report them to The Florida Bar.

On that point Judge Martha Warner said: “You talked about other sanctions. But if you don’t open it up, how can you sanction them in the second case for what’s happened?”

The appellate did not immediately rule on the homeowner’s appeal.

Donald Trump Takes a Couple More Lumps

Donald Trump and his organization often project an image of invincibility. However, when it coems to legal proceedings, he takes his lumps like everyone else. We recently discussed that his lawsuit against the NY Times for calling him a “millionaire” instead of a “billionaire” had been dismissed.

Last week a federal court in Los Angeles denied Donald and Ivanka Trump’s motion to dismiss the complaint against them arising from the failed condo hotel in Baja California, Mexico (see prior blog posts, below, for more on that project). Trump, who claims that he was not the developer of the project, argued that the case should be heard in new York, not Los Angeles, because he and Ivanka did not have sufficient contacts or involvement with California to justify the lawsuit being heard there. The trial judge disagreed and denied Trump’s motion to quash service of process. The case will proceed in California.

In an unrelated case, a New York State judge dismissed Trump’s case against the state, seeking $500 million in damages. The court ruled last week that Donald Trump and his partner do not have the right to seek damages from the state for its refusal to issue permits for their “Trump on the Ocean” restaurant and catering hall planned for Jones Beach, NY. More information about this case can be found here:

Donald Trump Loses Another Lawsuit

Donald Trump lost a second lawsuit in the last couple of weeks. First, as reported below, his lawsuit against a New York Times reporter for slander / defamation for calling him a “millionaire” instead of a “billionaire” was tossed out of court.

Now his lawsuit against a law firm for listing him as a firm client on the firm’s website has also been thrown out of court. In fact, the firm had actually represented Trump in the past. Nevertheless, Trump’s lawsuit accused the firm of engaging in “the rank commercialization of Mr. Trump’s reputation and unyielding demand for excellence.”

How ironic indeed. Isn’t the “rank commercialization” of Trump’s name and reputation his modus operandi? Indeed, he sells (“licenses“) his name for use on condominiums and hotels throughout the world – knowing that in the past, people have been willing to pay premium prices for condominium units based on what they believed was Trump’s “unyielding demand for excellence.” When the projects turn out to be not so “excellent” after all, Trump distances himself with the claim that he was not the developer, but had merely licensed the use of his name. (ie, Trump Projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Sunny Isles, Florida; Baja California, Mexico; Tampa, Florida; Dubai, Waikiki, Atlanta, etc.).

The entire article can be found here: