UPDATED, July 12, 10:35 a.m.: Miami-Dade Judge Jose Rodriguez ordered real estate agent Tomi Rose to fork over $76,587 to her former brokerage, Opulence International Realty.
Rodriguez’s ruling follows an arbitrator’s findings five months ago that Rose, now a senior director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman, had to pay back Opulence nearly $97,000 in expenses and that the brokerage owed her nearly $20,000 in unpaid mentee fees.
The June 30 final judgement against Rose ends Opulence’s three-year-old lawsuit against her, but her dueling 2018 complaint against her former employer is still pending. In an email, Rose’s attorney Michael Schlesinger said his client “is considering whether to appeal the final judgment.” He had no further comment.
David Hammond, CEO of Opulence, which was acquired by Brown Harris Stevens in 2017, said the company is satisfied with Rodriguez’s ruling. “We are very pleased with the outcome,” Hammond said. “It is what we expected.”
Rose spent four years as senior vice president of Opulence’s sports and entertainment division before leaving for a similar role at Douglas Elliman. She is married to former NBA star Mark Strickland and represented basketball icon LeBron James in the 2015 sale of his Coconut Grove mansion for $13.4 million.
In it’s lawsuit, Opulence alleged that Rose “refused to pay” marketing, travel and other expenses totaling about $96,000 that the brokerage had loaned her during her tenure. Opulence claimed that she had agreed to repay Opulence upon her departure from the company.
Rose countersued Opulence, alleging she was owed $473,817 in unpaid salary, unpaid mentee fees and “wrongfully withheld sums.” She also claimed that the expenses Opulence was trying to recover were not incurred by her.
According to the March 31 findings of the arbitrator, retired Miami-Dade Judge Joseph P. Farina, Opulence did not owe Rose an unpaid salary of $400,000 because she was an independent contractor and not an employee of the firm. Farina also noted that Rose benefited from a favorable commission split that gave her 85 percent to 90 percent of any earnings from a sale.
While the contract between Rose and Opulence did not make it clear she had to repay marketing, travel and other expenses, she did in fact acknowledge she was “receiving advances” in company emails, and she did repay $54,380 during her four-year tour with the brokerage, Farina concluded. And the retired judge determined Opulence did owe Rose $19,847, representing her share of commissions paid to sales agents she mentored.