Miami commissioner Joe Carollo hit with garnishment order tied to developers’ $64M verdict
Federal judge orders city of Miami to take out a portion of elected official’s paycheck for some of the judgment awarded to Little Havana developers Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla
Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo’s paycheck could get lighter as a result of his alleged retaliation campaign against Little Havana developers Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla.
On Tuesday, Broward Federal Court Clerk Angela Noble ordered the city of Miami to begin garnishing a portion of the elected official’s wages. The garnishment will go toward paying down the $63.5 million jury verdict Fuller and Pinilla won against Carollo in June. Jurors found Carollo guilty of violating the duo’s first amendment rights, holding the commissioner personally liable for damages.
Carollo, who is appealing the verdict, and his lawyer, Benedict Kuehne, did not respond to requests for comment.
Under federal law, up to 25 percent of Carollo’s paycheck can be garnished, Noble’s court filing states. The latest development means that city taxpayers could be on the hook for the $63.5 million verdict. Carollo earns $58,000 a year as a city commissioner.
The city has 20 days to respond to the garnishment order.
This month, Fuller, Pinilla and 13 businesses they own together filed a new federal lawsuit against multiple city officials, including Miami City Manager Art Noriega and City Attorney Victoria Mendez, alleging they enabled Carollo’s revenge against them by acquiescing to his demands to target their Little Havana properties with illegal code violations.
Fuller and Pinilla, principals of Miami-based Barlington Group, allege Carollo wanted to punish them because they supported his political opponent in the 2017 city election. In their new complaint, they are seeking more than $60 million in damages against the city.
During the June trial in Fort Lauderdale that resulted in the $63.5 million verdict, former high-ranking city officials, including an ex-city manager and two ex-police chiefs, testified that Carollo exerted undue influence over city employees to harass Pinilla and Fuller.
Fuller and Pinilla are also involved in another federal lawsuit against the city that makes similar allegations. In the pending complaint, Mad Room Hospitality, a company they co-own with brothers Zach and Ben Bush, is seeking $27.9 million in damages.