Miami Herald: Trump loses appeal to Doral golf resort tenant whose rent he tried to raise 583 percent

Miami Herald Mast Head

A Trump-owned company that operates the president’s Trump National Doral Miami golf resort has been ordered to pay the legal fees of a spa owner whose rent Trump attempted to raise fivefold during a lease dispute in 2013…

…Alan Kluger, a Pritikin attorney, said Trump had planned to “build a billionaire’s club” and the spa did not match his vision for the resort.

“He did everything he could to force him out,” Kluger said. “He and his team just tried to bully Pritikin. They took outrageous positions, they threatened him. It was really unconscionable.”

golfcourseThe trial judge sided with Pritikin, and on Wednesday Miami’s Third District Court of Appeal agreed.

Kluger and his colleagues are seeking $2.5 million in compensation for legal fees. The appeals court granted Pritikin’s motion for attorney fees — and added attorney fees for the appeal process as well. Pritikin attorneys are now working to set up a September hearing to determine an exact number.

A spokesperson for Trump Hotels did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The overwhelming credible and substantial evidence reflects that Trump Endeavor undertook a series of pretextual maneuvers in an effort to force Pritikin to vacate the leased premises,” Circuit Court Judge Rodriguez wrote in his 2017 ruling siding with Pritikin. “The court finds that Pritikin is the prevailing party on the significant issues of the case and is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”

Kluger said Trump Endeavor has a right to file a petition with Florida’s Supreme Court but that it was unlikely to go through.

“For all intents and purposes, all their appellate rights are done,” said attorney Philippe Lieberman. “Now all that needs to be decided is the amount of legal fees that Trump needs to pay Pritikin, and that number is going to be substantial.”

Read the full story in the Miami Herald.

Chambers USA Ranks Kluger Kaplan in 2018 Edition

Firm and Three Founding Members Ranked for General Commercial Litigation

USA Chambers 2018 Kluger Kaplan

We are honored that three of our Founding Members have been recognized in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA, one of the most esteemed legal publications in the world. 

Kluger Kaplan Silverman & Levine as a firm received a Band 3 ranking in the category of General Commercial Litigation. Additionally, founding members, Alan J. Kluger (Band 2), Steve I. Silverman (Band 4) and Philippe Lieberman (Band 4) were recognized for their commercial litigation work. 

The Chambers USA guide annually ranks preeminence in key practice areas, and achievements of law firms and lawyers throughout the country based on complexity of the work, firm growth and client service. 

The recognition by Chambers USA is the latest in a long list of accolades received by Kluger Kaplan. The firm in 2017 was named a Top Litigation Firm by the Daily Business Review, an ALM-affiliate and sister publication to the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and National Law Journal. The firm has also been named Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report, one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Legal Elite and one of Florida’s Top 100 law firms by Florida Super Lawyers Magazine. 

Attorney rankings by Chambers USA: 

Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)

  • Alan J. Kluger (Band 2)
  • Philippe Lieberman (Band 4)
  • Steve I. Silverman (Band 4)

For full details on our rankings in Chambers USA 2018, please visit Chambers & Partners.

 

 

Meet Dan Rosen, partner-in charge of our Minnesota office

Last April, Kluger Kaplan opened its newest office in Minneapolis and welcomed is Partner-in-Charge Daniel N. Rosen to the firm to spearhead this expansion. Nearly one year later, we caught up with Dan to learn more about his experience since joining Kluger Kaplan and his path to becoming one of the top complex commercial litigators in the Midwest. 

Dan RosenQ: How has joining Kluger Kaplan enhanced and supported your practice?

A: Kluger Kaplan has a depth of resources that I have rarely seen in my career. Previously, I was a principal at a small law firm.  Our firm performed at a very high level, but my practice outgrew the limitations of a small firm. At Kluger Kaplan I am supported by everything a trial lawyer could want—most importantly, a team on which every associate and every partner is smart, experienced and hard-charging. Being backed up by those resources and skills gives me the confidence any advocate needs going into litigation.

Q: How did you decide to enter the legal profession?

A:  You might say it’s in my genes. My father was a great trial lawyer with a unique enthusiasm for advocacy.  He’d teach me the skills of being a trial lawyer even when I was still a kid (seriously).  So, when the time came to choose my career, it was a natural decision.  My father died only five years into my career as a lawyer, but I was gratified that two weeks before he died, he was able to see me win my first million-dollar jury verdict.

Q: How did your experiences as a US Navy officer during the Gulf War help prepare you for your legal career?

A: A young naval officer is given huge responsibility. I was in command of 35 people. Half of them were older than I was, and most had been in the Navy far longer than I.  They were of course obligated to follow my orders, but to draw out the highest level of performance, the trick was to get them to want to follow my orders. So I had to learn the art of persuasion.  It’s the same with a jury.  If you want to win, it’s not enough to have statutes and cases on your side; you need to make them want to find for you.

My Navy experience also taught me the need for fast reactions and attention to detail, which is drilled into young officers.    Both are critical disciplines for a trial lawyer.

Q: You were recently appointed to a second four-year term on the Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board. Why are you honored to serve on this board?

A: The board is bipartisan, and I was honored that when Minnesota’s Democratic governor needed a Republican he could count on for fairness, he appointed me. In my recent tenure as chairman of the board, I worked hard to build consensus in addressing matters that were naturally charged with partisanship.    I believe we were successful and I am glad about that because the integrity of our elections and our democracy depends upon bipartisan cooperation in ensuring that our campaign finance system is clean and transparent.

Serving on the Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board has put me in a very strong position to help elected officials and donors –– state or federal –– who find themselves under the gun for violation of campaign finance law. The knowledge base and expertise that I have developed in the field is not commonly found in the legal profession but is a critical one.

 

Daily Business Review: Elder-Abuse Plaintiffs Attorneys Weigh In After Nursing Home Deaths

Daily Business Review
By: Celia Ampel
Daily Business Review
September 15, 2017

Elder-law attorneys were quick to weigh in Thursday on the legal implications of eight deaths at a Hollywood nursing home following a loss of air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.

Any need for regulatory reform will be determined by the facts as they emerge, said Fort Lauderdale attorney Jonathan Gdanski of Schlesinger Law Offices. Key questions, he said, would include the following: What steps, if any, were taken to transport nursing home residents? Was the facility monitoring the deterioration of patients over time? And what plans were in place to help those who needed assistance the most?

“?Some of the most basic facts still need to be determined, yet what is already known seems to present a clear picture of absolute, complete, reprehensible conduct, which resulted in death,” said Gdanski, a plaintiffs lawyer focused on catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice.

Meanwhile, he said, “the large majority” of caregivers across the state appear to have been adequately cautious in the face of the storm.

More than 150 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were evacuated to hospitals Wednesday. Three people were already dead when first responders arrived, and five more died that afternoon. Gov. Rick Scott called the deaths “unfathomable,” and state and local authorities have started a criminal investigation.

The nursing home’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, said in a statement that the facility was “cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome.”

Broward County reported the nursing home told officials Tuesday the air conditioning was out but did not request help, according to the Associated Press. The facility complied with a state law requiring an evacuation plan and hurricane drills.

“I have been litigating nursing abuse cases throughout Florida for years and this is the worst case I have seen,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Marcus Susen of Koch Parafinczuk Wolf Susen.

The Hollywood nursing home seems to be an outlier rather than an example of a systemic problem, said Miami attorney Bruce Katzen of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine.

“I believe our existing regulatory scheme is sufficient to administer nursing home and rehabilitation facilities,” said Katzen, whose practice includes elder abuse cases. “However, the existing regulatory system needs to be enforced. This facility apparently had a long list of violations.”

To read the full article, click here.

Standard for Expert Opinions Uncertain in Light of the Supreme Court of Florida’s Recent Decision

 

Case

The Florida Supreme Court has declined to follow the Florida Legislature’s decision around expert witness testimony requirements. On February 16, 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida declined to adopt the 2013 amendments to the Florida Evidence Code which replaced the Frye standard for expert witnesses with the Daubert standard. The ruling shows that the interplay between the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Legislature may create confusion and uncertainty for attorneys and judges about the standard they should apply for expert witness opinions going forward.

 

Florida Supreme Court

 

Background

In January 2013, the Florida Legislature amended the Florida Evidence Code regarding expert opinions. The purpose of the amendment was for Florida to shift from the Frye standard to the Daubert standard for expert witness opinions, in order to put Florida in line with the federal courts and most states. What’s the difference between the two?

  • The Frye Standard: an expert opinion based on a scientific technique is only admissible if such technique was “generally accepted” as reliable in the relevant scientific community.
  • The Daubert Standard: a more stringent and slow process, which requires additional hearings to determine the validity of expert opinion.

 

Ruling

The FL Supreme Court declined to adopt the new amendments, and therefore Florida will continue to use the Frye standard, unless or until challenged in a “proper case or controversy” where the Supreme Court of Florida has an opportunity to review the constitutional issues it referenced. The Court explained that even though it is the policy to adopt provisions of the Florida Evidence Code as the Legislature suggests, they have declined to on occasion “because of significant concerns about the amendments, including concerns about the constitutionality of an amendment.”

The Court noted ‘grave constitutional concerns’ with the change. The concerns were not discussed in detail in the opinion, but touched upon the constitutional right to a jury trial and denying access to the courts.

Justice Polston, concurring in part and dissenting in part, disagreed with the majority for rejecting to replace the Frye standard, honing in on the fact that the Daubert standard is followed not only in federal courts, but also in “36 states.” Justice Polston continued, stating he knew of “no reported decisions that have held that the Daubert standard violates the constitutional guarantees” and in fact, cited to case law across the nation stating the opposite.

 

Impact

The ruling could have a substantial impact in the trial courts. For example, when a party objects to the admissibility of an expert witness opinion based upon the Daubert standard, the opposing party may argue that, based on the Court’s ruling, the Daubert amendments are unconstitutional. A party seeking to admit expert testimony could also argue that the amendments are procedural in nature, and because they were not adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida, the court should use the Frye standard in ruling on the motion.

Unless or until the FL Supreme Court rules differently on the issue, it appears this ruling is likely to cause confusion in courts across the state in applying the standard for admitting, challenging, or excluding expert opinions under the Florida Evidence Code.

 

 

Gina RhodesGina Rhodes is an associate at Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. and focuses her practice on commercial litigation disputes in both state and federal court.