Investor Jorge Arevalo, facing litigation challenging his management of One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, is suing Coral Gables attorney Steven Cronig over a real estate deal for a prime parcel in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood.
Arevalo filed the lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Cronig and Watson Investigations LLC. State corporate records list Cronig as Watson’s manager and registered agent.
Arevalo claimed Cronig cut him out of a bankruptcy sale on a 33,927-square-foot parcel owned by a company run by failed Miami developer Renzo Renzi.
The lawsuit claiming defamation, unjust enrichment and equitable lien identifies Russian mining magnate Oleg Baybakov as the money behind Watson on the Brickell deal.
“Baybakov had made his fortune in the Russian mining industry and had expressed an interest in investing in Miami real estate if the right opportunity was presented to him,” the lawsuit stated.
Cronig also represents the residential condo association suing Arevalo for alleged mismanagement of the One Bal Harbour resort property.
Arevelo, who was seeking a role with a company that unsuccessfully bid for the Brickell property, claims Cronig made false and defamatory statements that kept him out of the deal.
Watson Investigations, represented by Cronig, closed on the $21.5 million purchase of the Brickell property last month.
Arevalo attorney Joseph Demaria, a partner at Tew Cardenas in Miami, said Cronig has “hunted” his client for years over the al Harbour case now in Bankruptcy Court.
“This time he went too far. He does not have the protection of the courts for his slander of Mr. Arevalo and for squeezing him out of a lucrative real estate deal,” DeMaria said. “Now Cronig will have the experience of being a defendant.”
Cronig, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson, said he and his attorneys have not had a chance to read the lawsuit in depth and will comment at a later date.