(J. Albert Diaz)
A Miami jury deliberated for two hours Thursday before clearing two Shutts & Bowen attorneys and their firm of legal malpractice in a case filed by millionaire financier Rodger Shay.
Shay, former chairman of Merrill Lynch Government Securities Inc., accused attorneys Bowman Brown and Ricardo J. Souto of leaving him financially vulnerable in a real estate deal in the Dominican Republic in 2005.
Shay agreed to purchase an oceanfront lot and a condominium in a planned country club featuring a Nick Faldo-designed golf course.
Brown and Souto were accused of failing to recognize red flags in the contracts and ignoring the advice of a Dominican Republic attorney who said Shay had tremendous financial risk in buying the properties.
Shay lost $2.7 million when he learned after purchase that the properties weren’t owned outright by the purported seller. The properties went into foreclosure when the real estate bubble burst.
The jury concluded the attorneys and the firm were not negligent in the representation of Shay.
“It’s compete vindication of Bowman Brown and Ricardo Souto,” said Jonathan Cohen, general counsel for Shutts & Bowen.