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Case Dismissed, But …
by Ron Davis

A waste of time and money is the outcome of a lawsuit involving Fort Gatlin Shopping Center in south Florida as well as with certain tenants of the shopping center.

Fort Gatlin’s owners learned of that lawsuit one month prior to any material actions. Efforts to resolve the matter at that point, however, were mostly unsuccessful. By that time the plaintiff, Bruce Larkin, had already sued under the Americans with Disability Act, claiming that the shopping center owners and two of the center’s tenants were violating that law.

Despite the gravity of the charges, however, there was little activity in the case for months. At that point, the plaintiff filed a “motion to dismiss,” indicating that he no longer wanted to pursue the lawsuit “due to a deteriorating medical condition.”

He later did ask for a dismissal of the case. In response, Fort Gatlin’s owners opposed that request of any dismissal of the lawsuit. The court then reserved jurisdiction to allow the defendants to seek attorney fees and costs. The judge followed that ruling by dismissing the case “with prejudice” while still retaining jurisdiction, “solely to consider the imposition of costs.”

Uncertainty oddly loomed as to whether the plaintiff had ever visited the center’s restaurant prior to suing the shopping center owners. In response, the plaintiff was able to assure the court of his first-hand knowledge of the restaurant and its purpose.

Later, the plaintiff asked the court to enact a host of penalties against the defendant, including, but not limited to, an award of costs and attorney fees. In response, the Fort Gatlin defendants filed a response, opposing such allegations.

Certain restrictions are used in such situations.
(1) The attorney must have engaged in unreasonable and vexatious conduct.
(2) Such unreasonable and vexatious conduct must have multiplied the proceedings.
(3) The monetary sanction could not exceed the “costs, expenses and attorney’s fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.”

In conclusion, the court ruled as follows:
“The Fort Gatlin defendant and their counsel have perpetuated this dispute by filing cross motions for sanctions, in which the clients and their counsels accuse their counterparts of misconducts that justifies the impositions of sanctions.”

As suspected, the judge dismissed the case with the following recommendations:
“(1) The Gatlin defendants’ motion for sanction is denied.
“(2) Plaintiff’s motion to withdraw admissions is denied as moot.
“(3) Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions is also denied.”

(Bruce Larkin, Plaintiff, v, Fort Gatlin Shopping Center, LLC, Brazas Chicken, Inc. and C. Jordan Enterprises, Inc., Defendants.)

Decision: April 2017
Published: May 2017



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