Robert J. Borrello, Herman J. Russomano III, and Herman J. Russomanno (J. Albert Diaz)
Case: Taglieri v. SB Hotel Associates et al, Deer Valley Realty v. SB Hotel Associates et al
Case no: 08-035643 CA 07 and 12-10560 CA 07
Description: Misleading advertising, Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation
Filing Date: Taglieri filed on Aug. 8, 2008, and Deer Valley on April 9, 2012
Judge: Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld
Plaintiff attorneys: Elizabeth Lee Beck and Jared Beck, Beck & Lee, Miami
Defense attorneys: Herman Russomanno II, Herman Russomanno III and Robert Borrello, Russomanno & Borrello, Miami
Verdict amount: For the defense
Details: Two buyers who placed deposits on condominiums at the Fort Lauderdale Trump International Hotel & Tower back in 2005 sued Trump and others in 2008 and 2012 to get back their deposits on the unfinished project. Suits by 81 other depositors are pending.
The 24-story condo-hotel tower on Fort Lauderdale beach, a victim of the housing crash, fell into foreclosure in 2012. The building was sold last year for conversion to a Hilton resort under its luxury Conrad brand.
Taglieri, a Boston restaurateur, and Michael Goodson, a New Jersey manufacturer who paid his deposit under the name Deer Valley Realty Inc., sued Trump, arguing the marketing materials for the property appeared to come directly from Trump and his organization. The investors alleged the materials implied Trump was the developer—something disputed by Trump, who said he merely had a licensing agreement with the developer.
The suits by Taglieri and Goodson were tried together after settlement talks failed.
Plaintiffs case: The plaintiffs called Taglieri and Goodson to the stand. Both testified the marketing materials led them to believe Trump was behind the development company. The plaintiffs also called J.M. Padron, a Fort Lauderdale real estate agent for RE/MAX, who testified as an expert witness for the first time. Taglieri asked for $73,000 in damages, and Deer Valley sought $172,500.
Defense case: The defense called Trump to the stand. He testified he was not the actual developer and did not receive any of the deposit money. Julius Schwartz, who was part of the development team, testified Trump was not the developer.
Defense expert Henry Fishkind, who has a doctorate in real estate markets and has provided economic forecasting to federal and state government agencies, Fortune 500 companies and major developers, testified the crash was a major factor in the failure of the condo project and the depositors suffered negative equity of at least 40 percent, leading them to file suit to recoup their loss.
Outcome: After an eight-day trial, jurors deliberated for about five hours before clearing Trump of any liability and finding for the defense.
Comments: “All the parties in the two cases—John Taglieri, Deer Valley and Donald Trump—were fortunate to have these two cases tried before an experienced and outstanding judge and a jury who conscientiously and diligently paid attention to all of the evidence and the law and reached fair and just verdicts,” the senior Russomanno said.
Post-verdict: Both plaintiffs filed motions for a new trial, which are pending. The defense filed a motion for attorney fees.