Would-be condo buyer sues attorney for nearly $500k in lost deposits

Suit surrounds deposits placed in 2004 on four units at Quantum on the Bay and funds tied to One Miami

Quantum on the Bay
Quantum on the Bay

A real estate investor who was unable to close on four preconstruction condos at the height of the housing market crash is going after his former attorney for failing to recoup close to half a million dollars in unreturned deposits, according to a recent lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Moises Zaga is suing Carlos Marin and his Miami-based law firm Marin, Elijaiek, Lopez and Martinez for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. Zaga alleges he retained Marin in 2008 to help him get back a combined $424,063 that he put down as deposits for four units at Quantum on the Bay at 1900 North Bayshore Drive in Miami four years earlier.

The investor ultimately backed out of the transactions after the developer, Terra Group, missed a Dec. 31, 2007 completion deadline, the lawsuit states. Zaga also instructed Marin to collect surplus funds he was owed from the foreclosure sale of a condo apartment at One Miami at 325 South Biscayne Boulevard.

David Martinez, the lawyer currently representing Zaga, declined comment. Marin said the lawsuit is without merit. “We refute any and all claims made by the plaintiff in this case,” Marin said. “However, we cannot comment any further as there is ongoing litigation.”

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Terra Group is not named in the lawsuit as a defendant.

Zaga claims he paid Marin an initial fee of $5,000 and agreed to pay the Marin law firm 22.5 percent of the deposit money that would be recovered. The lawsuit accuses Marin of neglecting his fiduciary duty to get Zaga his funds back by not aggressively forcing Terra Group to comply. “Defendants have continuously provided the plaintiff with misrepresentations and as to their efforts and false assurances that they were in the process of protecting their rights,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that Marin and his law firm concealed the fact Zaga’s claims were subject to a statute of limitations.

“Mr. Marin individually, and on behalf of [his law firm], misrepresented that he had filed lawsuits and were actively seeking the recovery of plaintiff’s deposits,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Marin even misrepresented that he had settled one of the claims as to the Quantum units.”

In reality, Marin never sent demand letters and never filed legal actions against Terra, One Miami developer the Related Group and the title companies that were holding the deposits in escrow, Zaga alleges. He also claims that he can no longer sue the developers because of Marin’s negligence.