Bahama Bay II Condominium/Resort – Third Update
Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. has secured settlements and judgments against Maesbury Homes, Inc., on behalf of numerous client purchasers in the Bahama Bay II development (Bahama Bay, a Condominium, a/k/a Bahama Bay Resort). The firm represents purchasers who signed an Agreement for Sale/contract with Maesbury Homes, Inc., for the purchase of a condominium unit in the Bahama Bay II development and who have not yet taken ownership of their contracted unit(s).
Bahama Bay II purchasers should be aware that there appears to be various firms, such as Compass Financial Consultants Limited (“CFC”), Fuel USA/Fuel Wealth Management Limited (“Fuel”), and other entities that are seeking to hold themselves out as being able to represent you for as little as 15 to 25 percent of the recovered funds. The fact is that only a Florida Bar licensed attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and enforce your legal rights in Florida courts.
Purchasers should be very cautious in dealing with any non-Florida Bar licensed attorney or entity because only a Florida Bar licensed attorney is qualified to opine whether you are being legally and bindingly released from your Agreement for Sale/contractual obligation to purchase a Bahama Bay II unit. Equally important, if there is a problem with the status of your Agreement for Sale or release, only a Florida Bar licensed attorney can appear, or file a lawsuit, on your behalf in Florida courts to enforce your legal rights.
As Bahama Bay II purchasers explore their legal rights and options, most come to realize that the top priority is to ensure that they are fully and finally released from any contractual obligation to purchase a Bahama Bay II unit. The next priority is to ensure that they recover as much of their deposit as possible.
Additional priorities include ensuring that their litigation strategy is tailored to their specific needs and facts, and ensuring that it is formulated to minimize the possibility that they may need to travel to the United States in connection with their lawsuit to attend depositions, mediation, trial or other court proceedings. For example, Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., will adjust the litigation strategy based upon whether a client desires to settle for a full release and recovery of the remaining escrow funds or whether, instead, the client wishes to recover a final judgment in an effort to recover as much money as possible. As a direct result of these considerations, Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s Bahama Bay II litigation strategy, for those purchaser clients who wish to recover a final judgment, very deliberately involves filing a separate lawsuit in Federal court for each purchaser client.
Federal versus State Court:
Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. files in Federal court for several reasons. Federal judges are appointed for life (and are thereby somewhat insulated from local political considerations). Federal judges are equipped to adjudicate technical legal matters that require significant judicial resources, such as resource attorneys and magistrate judges who can adjudicate or recommend rulings for the main judge. The federal rules of procedure allow a party to move for summary judgment (essentially a trial on paper) even if discovery has not yet been started. The federal rules also allow a judge to grant summary judgment more readily based upon the papers (essentially the defendant cannot simply claim a fact dispute requiring trial but must affirmatively present its own evidence of a fact dispute).
In contrast, State court judges are elected, serve terms and have to be re-elected. They also have limited resources (compared to a federal judge). For example, a state court judge may share a single research attorney with one or two other state court judges. The state court rules of procedure allow a defendant to more easily defer ruling on summary judgment until discovery, and possibly mediation, have been completed (both the plaintiff’s discovery deposition and mediation usually require the plaintiff to be present in person). The rules are also more favorable to a defendant/someone opposing summary judgment because the burden of proof on the plaintiff/moving party is higher than in federal court (more specifically, a party opposing summary judgment may be able to stop the judge from granting summary judgment by simply asserting that there is a factual dispute precluding summary judgment). Due to these considerations, we feel strongly that especially clients located outside of the United States are best served by having an individual lawsuit filed on their behalf in Federal court.
Although virtually all cases can be filed in state court, there are only two ways for purchaser plaintiffs to file in Federal Court, one of them is that the matter involves a federal question, i.e. a federal law is at issue. The other way is “diversity jurisdiction”, i.e. the parties to the case have to be from different states or countries and the amount at issue must be at least US$75,000. Because most Bahama Bay II purchasers are UK residents (or residents of countries other than the United States) the first requirement of diversity jurisdiction is already fulfilled. Although most clients deposits range in the US$40,000 – $60,000+ range, the $75,000 threshold can easily be met by combining two units in the same lawsuit to meet or exceed the $75,000 minimum.
It appears that the other law firms representing Bahama Bay II purchasers and filing lawsuits against Maesbury Homes, Inc., are one and two attorney law firms and solo-practice attorneys. Purchasers should ensure that any law firm that they contemplate retaining has the attorneys, staff and other resources to diligently handle their case regardless of what contingencies may arise in the future.
Another factor that may influence an attorney’s litigation strategy is the fact that all Florida Bar licensed attorneys can file lawsuits in Florida State court. However, in order to file in Federal court, the attorney must be admitted to the Florida Bar and also separately admitted to the applicable Federal Court Bar. Purchasers should also ensure that if there is a problem in the future or the status of the Agreement for Sale is challenged, (for example by Maesbury Homes, a bankruptcy court trustee, the foreclosing bank, a future purchaser of the Bahama Bay II development, etc.), that their chosen law firm will still represent them and stand behind and enforce any release or judgment.
Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. encourages all purchasers to do their own independent due diligence and research. You can also learn more about Maesbury Homes, Inc.’s Bahama Bay II development via these previous articles:
- September 9, 2010:
Bahama Bay II Condominium/Resort – Update
by John L. Urban
- August 26, 2010:
Bahama Bay II Condominium/Resort by Maesbury Homes, Inc., Foreclosure Update
by John L. Urban
- March 17, 2010:
Bahama Bay II Condominium/Resort by Maesbury Homes, Inc.
by John L. Urban
We encourage all purchasers to interview any attorney that they may be contemplating to retain and to ask that attorney for their experience, record in this area of the law, number of cases taken to final judgment, number of cases affirmed on appeal, number of attorneys in the firm, firm staff, resources, etc. We sincerely believe that purchasers should not retain an attorney or law firm until they are confident that 1) the law firm has the experience and resources to represent their best interest and 2) they fully understand the law firm’s litigation strategy.
The Florida Bar, which regulates all attorneys who are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida, provides strict guidelines which prohibit us from referring to past successes or results obtained for other purchasers in this or other developments. However, we can provide you with this and other information in response to any inquiry. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact us via the “Contact Us” page and we will promptly respond with additional information.
With attorneys in Orlando, Florida, and Munich, Germany, Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. and Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte continue to assist buyers throughout the United States and European Union countries who are seeking to terminate their pre-construction purchase agreements. Most cases can be handled on a contingency fee basis (client is responsible for costs).
We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary.
Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement.
by John L. Urban, Shareholder