Judge orders Craig Robins’ Dacra to pay Ugo Colombo’s $1.5M legal tab tied to jet dispute

Amount is in addition to $1.5M Dacra owes from a 2014 jury verdict affirmed on appeal last year

Mar.March 27, 2017 06:05 PM

In the latest step in a seven-year legal battle, a judge ruled that Craig Robins’ Dacra Development must pay $1.5 million for Ugo Colombo’s attorneys’ fees tied to their dispute over a private jet.

The judgment brings the total Dacra owes Colombo and his CMC Group to $3 million.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman’s ruling from Thursday was an agreed amount, and is on top of another $1.5 awarded Colombo and CMC Group stemming from a 2014 jury verdict that was affirmed on appeal last year, attorney Jim Robinson told The Real Deal. Robinson, a partner with White & Case, represented Colombo and CMC in the original lawsuit.

The litigation dates back to 2010, when Dacra Development Corp. and CL36 Leasing LLC filed suit against Colombo and CMC Group, alleging that Colombo had agreed to buy half of his $22 million Bombardier Challenger corporate jet, but failed to do so. Colombo countersued, alleging Dacra failed to pay its share of the plane’s maintenance and purposely caused a default on a loan used to buy the aircraft.

In 2014, a Miami-Dade jury awarded Colombo $2 million stemming from his legal fight with Dacra. That amount was reduced to $1.5 million later that year, Robinson said.

Dacra appealed the jury verdict to the Third District Court of Appeals, but the court affirmed the verdict in 2016. Colombo and CMC then filed motions for attorney’s fees, resulting in the latest judgment.

Though Robins is not named in the litigation, Robinson said he testified as the main witness at trial and is the “driving force” behind the litigation.

Robinson said Dacra has not yet paid the $1.5 million from the jury verdict, and that Colombo and CMC have begun attempts to try to collect the funds. “Dacra is taking the position in the case that they don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay,” Robinson said. “The Dacra that sued us and paid lawyers and pushed Colombo to a jury trial and lost is now turning around and not paying their judgment.”

In an effort to collect the funds, Robinson said attorneys are investigating fraudulent transfers up to four years before the jury verdict “and every other possible avenue” of recovery. “We had a fully funded company suing us for tens of millions of dollars now all of a sudden they don’t have anything,” Robinson said.

Robins referred comment to his attorney, Dennis Richard. “There is no judgment against Craig Robins. There is no fraudulent transfer claim,” Richard, who represents Dacra, CL36 Leasing and Robins, told TRD.

Other litigation tied to the plane is also ongoing. Bank of America sued Colombo in 2013 for nonpayment of his loan to buy the plane, which has since been sold. According to documents filed in the suit by CMC and Colombo, the bank’s claim is based “not on a default by Colombo, but by Robins, which then triggered a cross-default of Colombo’s loan.”

“Craig’s company paid the bank everything it owed, over $8 million, and the bank is suing Colombo for the balance of his loan of more than $4 million,” Richard said.

Both developers have been very active in South Florida. Robins is spearheading the redevelopment of the Miami Design District, which by the end of 2018 will have 120 retailers and more than 15 restaurants, along with museums and other cultural offerings. Colombo is developing Brickell Flatiron, a 64-story, 549-unit condo tower under construction in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood.

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