The Real Deal – Trump Doral to pay tenant’s legal fees tied to lease dispute (August 3, 2018)
By Kluger Kaplan August 6, 2018
Doral resort will have to pay more than $2.5M in legal bills
By Francisco Alvarado | August 03, 2018 06:25PM
Trump National Doral Miami is running up an expensive tab in a long-running legal war it’s losing against Florida Pritikin Center, a rehabilitation spa leasing space at the luxury resort.
On Wednesday, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a 2017 final judgement ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jose Rodriguez against Trump Endeavor 12, the entity that owns the Doral golf resort managed by Donald Trump Jr.
In doing so, the high court also ruled Trump Endeavor must pay Pritikin’s appellate legal fees, in addition to the fees the plaintiff incurred during the trial. The cardiac rehabilitation facility operates under the name Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa and is owned by Sam Fox, a St. Louis-based millionaire who served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium under President George W. Bush
By the time the bills are tallied up, Trump Endeavor will have to pay more than $2.5 million in attorney fees in its failed bid to evict the spa from a 40,000-square-foot-space at Trump Doral, said Pritikin’s lawyer, Philippe Lieberman, a partner with the Miami firm Kluger Kaplan Silverman Katzen and Levine.
“The exact amount will be determined by Judge Rodriguez in the next couple of months,” Lieberman said. “Our client is very happy. He is looking forward to putting this behind him and recovering his legal fees from Trump.”
Trump Endeavor attorney Bruce Rogow did not respond to a request for comment.
Pritikin sued Trump Endeavor in June 2015, alleging breach of contract. According to court documents, Pritikin had a lease with the prior owner dating back to 2009 that was still in effect when Trump Endeavor purchased the golf resort in bankruptcy court three years later. The company affirmed the lease and Pritikin was forced to remain while the Trumps renovated the property, the lawsuit states.
“At that point, the property was in disrepair and bad condition,” Lieberman said. “Trump would not reduce the rent or allow Pritikin out of the lease. When the lease was up for renewal, it coincided with when construction was coming to a close. Trump wanted to bully us off the property.”
Pritikin’s lawsuit claims that Trump tried to increase a special room rate for Pritikin clients by 583 percent, would not replace worn-out refrigeration units in the spa, attempted to reject the tenant’s option to extend the lease until 2019 and tried to improperly terminate the agreement. “We resisted,” Lieberman said. “We pushed back.”
In February 2015, Rodriguez granted Pritikin declaratory relief, which forced Trump Endeavor to honor the lease, as well as decrease its clients’ room rates by 15 percent. The developer won a subsequent appeal to the Third District Court, which sent it back to Rodriguez to provide a better explanation as to why he ruled in Pritikin’s favor, Lieberman said.
“He did that in 38-page judgement filed in June 2017,” Lieberman said. “Trump appealed that judgement and the appellate court ruled in Pritikin’s favor this Wednesday.”
This marks the second time in less than two years that Trump Doral loses a lawsuit before the Third District Court. Last year, it rejected Trump Endeavor’s petition to throw out a lower court ruling affirming a nearly $35,000 construction lien against the property. The Paint Spot, a Miami-based paint company, claimed Trump Endeavor refused to pay for work it performed. It was also awarded $300,000 in attorney fees.