The Real Deal – Miami-Dade judge tosses out Hotel Greystone lawsuit (January 26, 2022)
By Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. January 27, 2022
Miami-Dade judge tosses out Hotel Greystone lawsuit
James Vosotas sued former business partner Branden Muhl over control of South Beach hotel
By Francisco Alvarado
In another court win for Hotel Greystone owner Branden Muhl, a Miami-Dade judge tossed out his ex-partner’s lawsuit accusing him of a hostile takeover of the South Beach property.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Alan Fine last week dismissed an amended complaint filed by Greystone Hospitality, a company managed by Boca Raton-based hotelier James Vosotas. Vosotas alleges Muhl is attempting to squeeze him out of an ownership stake in Hotel Greystone, a 91-room Art Deco hotel at 1920 Collins Avenue.
In his original lawsuit filed in August, Vosotas had named himself and his other company, Vos Hospitality, as plaintiffs against Muhl’s entity, BBM3. The complaint accused BBM3 of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of good faith and fair dealing, corporate waste and unjust enrichment.
As part of his dismissal order, Fine granted Greystone Hospitality and Vosotas permission to file another amended complaint within 20 days of his ruling.
Todd Levine, an attorney representing Muhl’s BBM3, said Vosotas’ case is frivolous. “My client is the aggrieved party,” Levine said. “He was fraudulently induced by James Vosotas to invest in the property and then Vosotas engaged in a litany of wrongful acts.
Etan Mark, a lawyer for Greystone Hospitality, said his client will file another amended complaint.
“Mr. Muhl’s counsel doth protest too much,” Mark said in an email. “As the dismissal was entirely without prejudice with all claims preserved, we look forward to exposing Mr. Muhl for the person we know he is.”
Greystone Hospitality, Vos Hospitality and BBM3, through various other entities, own Greystone HoldCo., the company that owns the hotel. Muhl and Vosotas are old college friends whose South Beach hotel venture tore apart their friendship, according to court documents.
Earlier this month, New York Supreme Court Judge Andrew Borrok ruled against Vosotas in a foreclosure lawsuit BBM3 had filed in that city. Borrok ordered Vosotas to pay an $18.9 million judgment for failing to meet his guarantee obligations on a $36 million construction loan BBM3 had acquired from another lender that was used to fund Hotel Greystone renovations.
In the Miami-Dade lawsuit, Vosotas alleged Muhl purposely kept Hotel Greystone closed for most of 2020 and 2021 in order to wipe out his ownership stake in the property and blow up their partnership. Hotel Greystone had a brief grand opening as an adults-only hotel during Super Bowl LIV weekend in Miami Beach in February 2020, but was forced to close shortly thereafter due to business lockdowns at the onset of the pandemic. The hotel reopened in September with new management under Provincetown, Massachusetts-based Salt Hotels.
Muhl, CEO of Mahaska, a national food and beverage company based in Oskaloosa, Iowa, met Vosotas while attending the University of Michigan and was a groomsman at Vosotas’ wedding.
Muhl claimed the hotel’s reopening was delayed by a fire that caused extensive damage and because Vosotas had failed to obtain the building’s 40-year recertification. He also claimed he put in a considerable amount of equity into the venture by bankrolling the real estate acquisition for Hotel Greystone because Vosotas was unable to get traditional financing.