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A Miami appellate court wasted no time telling the parents of a woman who disappeared while on a 1998 cruise that lying and perpetrating a fraud against the court won’t be tolerated. Just one week after hearing oral arguments, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday affirmed a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit brought by the parents of Amy Bradley against Royal Caribbean Cruises. The parents and their law firm, Hall David & Joseph in Miami, face the possibility of a stiff fine for making what a trial court judge called “numerous exaggerated claims” that had no basis in the law. Ronald and Iva Bradley filed two lawsuits against the Miami-based cruise line in 1999. They contended in the first suit that Royal Caribbean was negligent in its handling of the disappearance of their then 23-year-old daughter, Amy, last seen aboard the line’s Rhapsody of the Seas during a 1998 trip between Puerto Rico and Curacao. The other was a wrongful death, although no evidence has ever come to light that Amy Bradley is dead. Both lawsuits were dismissed in October 2000 by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stuart Simons, who found the couple had “perpetrated a fraud on the court” by giving false answers to the defense in depositions. The judge found the Bradleys failed to disclose contacts with witnesses who contradicted their claims that she had been taken from the ship against her will. Bradley’s parents defended their actions, saying they had good reason to believe their daughter was still alive and might be in danger, and that was why they initially withheld information that might be critical to her safe return. They insisted, however, that they only withheld the information for a short time and later turned over all of the information requested by Royal Caribbean’s lawyers. Robert Glazier, who represented the Bradleys in their appeal, declined to comment on the appellate court’s ruling. Andrew Hall, a partner at Hall David & Joseph in Miami who represented the Bradleys at the trial court level, said, “These are nice people who have now had a second tragedy.” Jeffrey Maltzman, a partner at Kaye Rose & Maltzman in Miami who represented the cruise operator at trial, said that while Amy Bradley’s disappearance was tragic, he was pleased that the court “affirmed the rule of law that one cannot lie under oath in Florida under any circumstance.” In January 2001, lawyers for Royal Caribbean asked Judge Simons to impose a $171,000 fine against Hall’s firm and the Bradleys after he dismissed the case. In his request for sanctions, Maltzman noted that his firm’s lawyers and paralegals spent 1,324 hours working on the case during the 21 months following Amy Bradley’s disappearance. The request for sanctions had been on hold while the case was on appeal. But Hall said he doesn’t believe he or his firm will have to pay. He bases his opinion on a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that says courts do not have “inherent authority” to sanction attorneys unless there are findings of bad faith. Hall said there was no bad faith in this case. Maltzman disagreed. “I think it’s fairly clear in the Bradley case that there was bad faith.” However, he added it would be up to the trial court judge to decide who would have to pay.

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