MIAMI – March 13, 2023 – Greenberg Traurig, P.A. Miami Litigation Practice Shareholder Michael N. Kreitzer prevailed for client Bru’s Room Sports Grill, which was awarded millions of dollars in economic and punitive damages, in 84 Shopping Corporation v. Bru’s Room Bird Road, LLC.
In the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court case, which concluded on Jan. 27 after a six-month-long bench trial and eight years of pre-trial litigation, Judge Charles K. Johnson awarded Bru’s Room approximately $4.2 million in economic damages plus interest and punitive damages against its landlord 84 Shopping Corporation and that company’s principal Daniel Arias. The court also invalidated the underlying lease which formed the basis of the dispute after finding that Bru’s Room’s lease at 8358 SW 40th Street in Miami had been fraudulently induced; the net effect of which was to release the small business from its rent obligation.
Final Judgment was entered on March 10, 2023, awarding Bru’s Room a total sum of $6,103,756.42 with the court reserving jurisdiction to award Bru’s Room its attorneys’ fees and costs. After accounting for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs the judgment is expected to total about $11 million.
The dispute centered on Arias’ misrepresentation to Bru’s Room that the space Arias rented to the restaurant in his shopping center could accommodate a 300-seat restaurant, when in fact the parking facilities at the shopping center were inadequate for this number of guests. Bru’s Room presented evidence that Arias knew about this parking shortage before signing the lease. Further, Arias provided incorrect data regarding the sizes and uses of the other tenants in the shopping center to make it appear as if there was a surplus of parking spaces rather than a deficit. Bru’s Room obtained a building permit based on the fraudulent data, but the construction was red-tagged when Miami Dade County learned that the parking calculations provided by Arias were incorrect. In order to finish construction and obtain its Certificate of Occupancy Bru’s Room had to undergo an expensive and timely variance process to allow the restaurant to open despite the lack of parking. Due to well negotiated lease terms, Bru’s Room did not have to pay rent until the Certificate of Occupancy was obtained. Unhappy with the lease terms, Arias then sued to evict Bru’s Room. Bru’s Room filed a counterclaim for fraud. At stake for the small restaurant chain was millions of dollars in lost revenue and operational costs.
In Judge Johnson’s decision to not only rule in favor of Bru’s Room but to also award it damages, he said that Arias’ actions to deceive met the definition of intentional misconduct: “Punitive damages are appropriate when a defendant engages in conduct which is malicious, deliberately oppressive or committed with such gross negligence as to indicate a disregard for the rights of others to punish them and deter the commission of similar acts in the future.”
“We thank Greenberg Traurig attorneys for their masterful representation of us in this difficult, long-standing matter,” said the owners of Bru’s Room Sports Grill. “The decision brings a positive end to a long 10 years that have left a mark on all of us that try to keep a rather small company moving ahead for the benefit of many. We are truly a family small business, the family being everyone in our staff.”
“It was our pleasure to achieve this important result for Bru’s Room, a truly home-grown South Florida institution,” said Kreitzer, who co-chairs Greenberg Traurig’s Miami Litigation Practice. “We applaud the company’s tenacity in staying the course during a particularly long and challenging trial.”
Kreitzer was assisted in the matter by Greenberg Traurig Associate Jennifer Junger.
About Greenberg Traurig’s Litigation Practice: Greenberg Traurig’s Litigation Practice includes a team of more than 700 attorneys. The firm’s trial lawyers regularly appear in state and federal courts throughout the country, as well as in appellate courts and before international arbitration panels. They work closely with in-house counsel to develop a strategy that best fits a litigation cost and proficiency model appropriate to the client’s unique needs and goals.
About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP has more than 2650 attorneys in 44 locations in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. The firm is a 2022 BTI “Highly Recommended Law Firm” for superior client service and is consistently among the top firms on the Am Law Global 100 and NLJ 250. Greenberg Traurig is Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certified Plus by The Diversity Lab. The firm is recognized for powering its U.S. offices with 100% renewable energy as certified by the Center for Resource Solutions Green-e® Energy program and is a member of the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program. The firm is known for its philanthropic giving, innovation, diversity, and pro bono. Web: www.gtlaw.com.