Harvey Hernandez’s development group is striking back against Airbnb after the short-term rental company alleged he committed fraud and siphoned money out of an apartment-sharing concept.
NGD Homesharing, led by Miami developer Hernandez, alleges in a countersuit filed Friday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court that Airbnb was actually the one operating in bad faith and caused delays and setbacks in opening its projects by going “radio silent” in communication.
“This is a classic case of a big corporate player attempting to misuse its size and strong-armed legal tactics to improperly usurp an innovative business,” Michael G. Austin of McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, who is representing NGD, said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that Airbnb is attempting to misappropriate NGD’s confidential business information, trade secrets and proprietary business methods for the benefit of Airbnb.
The suit stems from a partnership between Hernadez’s development group and Airbnb to offer Airbnb-branded apartments. Airbnb claims it invested $11 million in the initiative.
But the local developer and the home-sharing giant are now locked in a heated legal battle.
Last week, Airbnb filed suit against NGD Homesharing in Northern California, claiming Newgard was supposed to open at least seven of projects in 2019, including one in Kissimmee, Florida. But Newgard failed to open a single project in 2019, according to the suit.
Furthermore, Airbnb alleges that Hernandez siphoned off $1 million of Airbnb’s investment into another one of his condo projects, Natiivo in Miami.
Airbnb alleges Hernandez and his company tried to disguise the investment as a loan by producing fraudulent and backdated documentation that showed Hernandez as the signatory on behalf of both borrower and lender.
Hernandez’s development group’s most recent lawsuit disputes that the loan was illegal. As the sole manager of NGD, Hernandez was allowed to make the $1 million loan without Airbnb’s consent or authorization under a previous agreement, Austin said in a statement.
Airbnb did not immediately return a request for comment.
In its suit, Airbnb demands the return of its $11 million investment and wants out of its contract.
It is not the first time Hernandez has faced major legal issues with his real estate developments.
In 2016, Hernandez’s development company was sued over a failed robotic car garage he installed at the luxury condo tower Brickell House in Miami. In September, a Miami-Dade County judge awarded the Brickell House condo association $40.6 million from the development group after the technology malfunctioned and left residents without a working garage.