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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fowler White Burnett, Greenberg Traurig Attorneys Resolve Litigation in Favor of Shelbourne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko issued a final judgment in favor of all defendants in a lawsuit instituted by approximately 40 unit owners at the Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium in Miami Beach, Florida, bringing an end to litigation that stretches back to 2012. 

Fowler White Burnett shareholders Alice K. Sum and Stephanie M. Chaissan represented the Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium Association and Board of Directors, along with Jonathan Smulevich from Lowy and Cook, P.A. as co-counsel for the Association.  Ronald M. Rosengarten, shareholder for the Miami office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig P.A. represented Shelborne Property Associates and Shelborne Operating Associates in the litigation. The Shelborne is a condominium hotel, where unit owners purchase units as an investment and rent out the rooms to guests.  The lawsuit was brought against the Shelborne Condominium Association, certain of its board members, and against Shelborne Property Associates (SPA), the owner of a substantial number of the hotel units and commercial units, and Shelborne Operating Associates (SOA), the operating company for SPA.

“The SPA and SOA investors and Association board members have endured years of unwarranted personal attacks on their character and reputation by the plaintiffs.  The court’s ruling constitutes complete vindication of all defendants, and confirmation that their actions with respect to the Shelborne were proper, appropriate and aboveboard,” Rosengarten said.  “All Shelborne unit owners should be pleased that their investment has been enhanced by owning units in a building whose commercial areas have been totally and beautifully refurbished, and where life-safety and aging conditions have been responsibly addressed and rectified.”

The lawsuit had alleged, among other things, that the Association and certain board members breached their fiduciary duty in assessing unit owners for construction work that did not constitute necessary repairs and maintenance, and which therefore required a vote of all unit owners.  Plaintiffs maintained that the Association and board members conspired with SPA and SOA to have the unit owners pay for construction that allegedly was done for the benefit of SPA and SOA's hotel program.  After extensive discovery by the parties, the court found that plaintiffs failed to produce evidence to support their claims, and entered the final judgment in favor of all defendants.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case,” Sum said.  “Defendants maintained all along that the board properly performed its duties and assessed residents for work to the common areas of the condominium that was necessary to address a number of required life-safety and maintenance issues for the benefit of all unit owners.  That work included sealing fire wall separations, and replacing old wiring, rusted water pipes and other components that had substantially deteriorated or reached the end of their useful life.”

The Shelborne South Beach is recognized as a landmark hotel in South Beach and an historic Art Deco District hotel that was recently restored to its original opulent splendor. This newly renovated hotel is directly on the oceanfront in South Beach and is now a luxury lifestyle resort and historic Art Deco masterpiece.

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